Last June, when Jay-Z and Beyoncé welcomed twins to their family, they did what many couples do in the wake of a new arrival–move to a bigger home–on quite an epic scale. Over the next few months, they shelled out $26 million for an East Hampton mansion and scooped up an $88 million Bel Air estate, adding 21,000 square feet per newborn. That’s the sort of thing you can do when one partner is a pop demigod and the other is the richest rapper on the planet.
Jay-Z upped his net worth from $810 million to $900 million over the past year, seizing hip-hop’s cash crown for the first time since Forbes started counting back in 2011. The Brooklyn-born mogul’s jump is due mostly to the rising value of his interests in Armand de Brignac champagne and D’Ussé cognac, on top of nine-figure ownership stakes in his Roc Nation empire and Tidal streaming service.
“We always complain about, ‘We don’t own this, we don’t own that.’ … Here he is, this man who owns that,” superproducer Swizz Beatz told me in an interview for my book 3 Kings: Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay-Z and Hip-Hop’s Multibillion-Dollar Rise. “The sky is not the limit: it’s just a view.”
Jay-Z, Diddy and Dre are not only the wealthiest hip-hop acts on the planet, but the richest American musicians of any genre. Longtime Forbes Five champ Diddy ranks No. 2 this year despite increasing his fortune slightly in the past 12 months; tepid trends in the vodka and cable TV sectors have affected his interests in Ciroc and Revolt, but heady growth at DeLeón tequila, his joint venture with beverage giant Diageo–and massive annual earnings totals in recent years–have kept his net worth trending in the right direction.
Dre ranks third with $770 million, creeping upward thanks to the market trends boosting his nine-figure windfall from Apple’s $3 billion buyout of Beats in 2014. The superproducer is also in line to receive a slug of Apple stock this summer worth well over $100 million; depending on the tech giant’s share price at the time, he could leapfrog Diddy and Jay-Z when that happens.
After the top three, there’s a long drop before the fourth and fifth names on the list: Drake and Eminem, tied at an even $100 million apiece. The youngest impresario of the bunch, 31-year-old Drake has earned more than $250 million since 2010, before taxes and spending; an equity stake in Virginia Black whiskey and pricey estates in Toronto, Canada, and Hidden Hills, California, pad his holdings. His inclusion on the Forbes Five represents yet another career goal achieved.
“If I’m not on your list this year, I’d be gravely disappointed,” he told Forbes back in 2013. “That’s pretty much my objective every year … other than making good music.”
Eminem isn’t known as a businessman like some of the other names on this list, but he’s still the best-selling rapper of all time and moved more albums in the U.S. during the 2000s than any act in any genre. Fresh off new album Revival, he makes his Forbes Five debut as former listmember Birdman–Drake’s Cash Money Records boss–slips below the $100 million mark in the wake of some apparent liquidity issues.
To compile the Forbes Five rankings, we follow the same procedures used to calculate our list of the world’s billionaires (our annual update arrives Tuesday): valuing major assets, poring over financial documents, and speaking with analysts, attorneys, managers, other industry players and, in some cases, the moguls themselves.
So who will be the first hip-hop star to reach the billion-dollar mark? Trends in the spirits world could continue to play a key role for Jay-Z and Diddy. After the furious rise of vodka in the first part of this decade, fueled largely by flavored variants like those of Ciroc, the market has shifted towards cognac, whiskey and tequila.
“D’Ussé fits right in there,” says Eric Schmidt, Director of Alcohol Research at Beverage Marketing Corporation. “I think DeLeón is poised for growth … it could one day be the next Patrón, but it’s a long road.”
Jay-Z, meanwhile, shouldn’t be slacking off anytime soon: though he and Beyoncé bought their East Hampton abode outright, according to public records, their $88 million Bel Air mansion comes with a $52.8 million mortgage. – Written by ,
Birds Of A Feather: The Stepchickens Cult On TikTok Is The Next Evolution Of The Influencer Business
Like any self-respecting cult, the Stepchickens follow a strict code of conduct as dictated by their absolute leader, Mother Hen, a comedian named Melissa who posts on TikTok as @chunkysdead. Mother Hen has widely preached a message of peace, telling her 1.7 million TikTok followers: “We do not rule by being cruel, we shine by being kind.” Further, she has asked all Stepchickens to make themselves easily identifiable and make her photo their TikTok profile picture.
Mother Hen has created TikTok’s first “cult.” (Her word.) Boiled down, she is a social media influencer, and the Stepchickens are her fans, just as more famous TikTok influencers—Charli D’Amelio, Addison Rae and the like—all have their fanbases. But Mother Hen’s presence and style is quite singular, particularly in the way she communicates with her followers, what she asks them to do and how the Stepchickens respond to her. After all, not every member of the Charli hive use her image as their profile pictures.
“These influencers are looking for a way to build community and figure out how to monetize their community. That’s the No. 1 most important thing for a creator or an influencer,” says Tiffany Zhong, cofounder of ZebraIQ, a community and trends platform. “It’s become a positive for Gen Z, where you’re proud to be part of this cult—part of this community. They are dying to be part of a community. So it’s easy to get sucked in.”
Mother Hen, who didn’t return a request to comment for this story, already had a popular comedy vlog-style TikTok account on May 6 when she asked her followers to send suggestions for what they could name their cult. From the ideas offered up, she chose Stepchickens, and in the 19 days since, her following has more than doubled. (It was around 700,000 back at the beginning of this month.) She has posted videos about taking edibles, her celebrity lookalikes and her relationship status (“all this cult power, still no boyfriend”). And perhaps in violation of her first-do-no-harm credo, Mother Hen has implored her followers to embark on “battles” and “raids,” where Stepchickens comment bomb other influencers’ videos, posting messages en masse. She has become the mother of millions: TikTok videos with #stepchickens have generated 102 million views on the app, and her own videos have received 54.6 million likes.
Mother Hen is now concentrating on feathering her nest. She has launched a large range of merch: smartphone cases ($24), hoodies ($44), t-shirts ($28) and beanies ($28). Corporate sponsorships seem within reach, too. TikTok accounts for the Houston Rockets, Tampa Bay Rays and one for the Chicago Bulls mascot, Benny, all changed their profile picture to the image distributed by Mother Hen. The Rays sent her a box of swag, addressing the package to “Mother Hen,” of course. She dressed up in the gear (two hats, a fanny pack, a tank top) and recorded herself wearing it in a TikTok, a common move by influencers to express gratitude and signal that they’re open to business sponsorship opportunities. Mother Hen has launched a YouTube channel, too, where she’ll earn ad revenue based on the views that her 43,000 subscribers generate by watching her content.
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Then there is the Stepchickens app available on Apple devices. This digital roost is a thriving message feed—it resembles a Slack channel or a Discord server—where Stepchickens congregate, chat and coordinate their raids. They can also use it to create videos, ones “to glorify mother hen,” the app’s instructions read.
The app launched last Monday and has already attracted more than 100,000 users, a benchmark that most apps do not ever see and the best reach within months of starting. Since its debut, it has ranked as high as the ninth most popular social media app in the world on the download charts and in the Top 75 most downloaded across all types of apps. The Stepchickens have traded 135,000 messages, and the app’s most devoted users are spending as long as 10 hours a day on it, says Sam Mueller, the cofounder and CEO of Blink Labs who built the Stepchickens app.
“There’s this emergence of a more active—a more dedicated—fan base and following. A lot of the influencers on TikTok are kind of dancing around, doing some very broadcast-y type content. Their followers might not mobilize nearly as much as” the Stepchickens, says Mueller. Mother Hen’s flock, by contrast, “feel like they’re part of something, feel like they’re connected. They can have fun and be together for something bigger than what they’re doing right now, which is kind of being at home bored and lonely. There’s untapped value here.”
Here Are All The Crazy Things People Are Betting On In The Absence Of Live Sports
TOPLINE With most live sports suspended during the coronavirus pandemic, online gamblers have turned to different contests like Russian table tennis and Korean baseball, while also betting on everything from video games and reality television shows to political news and even the weather.
- “[English] darts and esports have had big increases in betting volumes, along with football [soccer] leagues that have kept playing like the Belarusian Premier League,” says Pascal Lemesre, a spokesman for U.K. betting exchange platform Smarkets. “Horse racing remains our most-traded sport and has made up two-thirds of volume since the lockdown began.”
- Many betting companies, like DraftKings, had to really dig and get creative with new offerings during the pandemic, says Johnny Avello, head of sportsbook for DraftKings. “We went out and found whatever we could… we wanted to keep our customers engaged.”
- A charity golf match with Tiger Woods, Peyton Manning, Phil Mickleson and Tom Brady, for example, has drawn massive interest and could surpass the betting volumes DraftKings saw in last year’s major golf tournaments.
- Betting on esports has also seen a huge uptick and has really “made its mark,” he says: Virtual NASCAR races proved to be immensely popular, along with daily fantasy for video games like League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
- There has also been a lot of interest in betting on politics, including who will win the 2020 U.S. presidential election, who Democratic nominee Joe Biden will choose as his vice president and how long UK prime minister Boris Johnson will stay in office.
- According to data from Smarkets, almost $2 million has already been traded on the election, with Donald Trump retaining a 5% lead over Joe Biden; Kamala Harris is frontrunner to be Biden’s VP, slightly ahead of Amy Klobuchar.
- Since the Democratic debate between Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders in mid-March, DraftKings has offered free-to-play betting pools around many political events, along with reality television shows like Survivor and Top Chef, and even the weather in certain states.
Bettors have certainly shown interest in gambling on the outcomes of their favorite TV shows: According to data from BetOnline, there was even a flurry of betting on the final episode of The Last Dance, with odds on things like whether Michael Jordan would cry while being interviewed or how many people would be shown with a cigar in their mouth.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Sportsbooks are seeing huge pent-up demand as some major sports like NASCAR and German Bundesliga soccer start to resume. Soccer, which normally makes up 45% of the Smarkets’ betting volume, fell to 23%, maintained largely by interest in the Belarusian Premier League and Nicaraguan soccer, both of which continued to play games amid the pandemic. With the German Bundesliga resuming last weekend, betting volumes increased 428% compared to the previous round of fixtures before coronavirus, according to Smarkets.
“When you don’t have all the normal content, customers will migrate,” Avello says. “That’s the positive that’s going to come out of this—we’re always looking for additional content.”
DraftKings reported record betting during the NFL Draft last month—13x the volume from last year—and has also seen strong interest in the recent return of Ultimate Fighting Championship events, the company said. “We got good action on the stuff we did, but now that we’re starting to get back to core events, demand should rise even higher,” Avello predicts. If the NBA and NHL start playoff seasons this summer and the MLB returns, for instance, “it could be one of the bigger summers that we’ve ever had.”
Quote Of The Day
“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen,”– Vladimir Lenin, Russian Political Theorist
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