HE WAS famously raised in a poverty-stricken New York ghetto and turned to rap to escape a life of drugs and violence.
And this week, Jay-Z, real name Shawn Carter, has become the first billionaire in hip hop after striking gold with investments in music, property, fashion and tech.
According to a new report released by Forbes, Jay-Z has taken the crown as the world’s richest rapper following a two-year battle with P Diddy in the race to accumulate their first billion.
The rise in fortune of the 49-year-old husband of Beyonce is all the more impressive given his deprived start in life.
He was raised on the notorious Marcy Houses projects in Brooklyn by a single mum after his dad left when he was 11, survived being shot at, lost friends to death and jail, and famously dealt crack cocaine which he credits with honing his future business nous.
“I know about budgets. I was a drug dealer,” he once told Vanity Fair.
In the ultimate rag-to-riches tale, it was music that helped propel him out a dire situation, and he went from selling CDs from his car to founding the hugely successful Roc-A-Fella Records in 1995, selling over 100m records and nabbing 22 Grammy Awards.
Alongside this, Jay-Z founded entertainment company Roc Nation, created his own champagne brand, bought music streaming service Tidal, and has invested in tech start-ups like Uber.
And the man who once rapped “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man” certainly knows how to spend the fruits of his labour – splashing his cash on a £69m mansion and a pair of £2k animal skin trainers.
£69m Bel-Air mansion with recording studio
The rapper splits his time between three stunning homes in the United States.
There’s the £69m Bel-Air home with eight bedrooms, eleven bathrooms, four pools, a 15-car garage, bulletproof windows and a recording studio.
His £20m waterfront home in the East Hamptons boasts seven bedrooms, nine bathrooms with heated bathtubs, as well as imported Venetian floors and 18th-century French Louis XV carved stone fireplaces worth £49,000 each.
£2m former church
In New Orleans, he stays in a £2m former Presbyterian Church which features three master bedrooms, a huge dining table and lots of quirky decor.
Jewellery collection including £190k solid gold chain necklace
However, it’s his bling where the star really splashes out.
There’s his iconic £191,000 solid gold chain necklace, a Hublot Big Bang watch worth an estimated £60,000 and a £10,000 panther ring from Cartier.
£26k sapphire ring ‘push present’ for Bey
The rapper sure knows how to treat one of the most adored women on the planet – he regularly flies Beyonce on romantic trips to Paris where they stay in the £15,350-a-night penthouse suite at Hotel Le Meurice with incredible views of the Eiffel Tower.
He also bought her a 1959 Rolls Royce Silver Cloud, worth £767,000, for her 25th birthday, and for the 2017 birth of their twins gave her a £26,000 blue sapphire ring as a ‘push present’.
Family holidays on £3m private Bahamas island and £50m yacht
Jay-Z goes just as big on his well-deserved downtime, and jets to a number of exotic locations with his 37-year-old pop star wife, their seven-year-old daughter Blue Ivy, and one-year-old girl and boy twins Rumi and Sir.
He has purchased his own £3m private island in the Bahamas, according to Hello! magazine.
In 2013, Jay-Z treated Beyonce for her 32nd birthday to a stay on a £275,000 triple-decker yacht with sauna, pool and a helipad. They got through £23,000-worth of champagne during the five-day trip from Spain to Italy.
And in 2015, they travelled on £50m yacht, Galatica Star – owned by Nigerian energy magnate Kola Aluko – which can sleep 12 guests for £580,000 a week.
Designer wardrobe including £3k suits and £2k animal skin trainers
Once known for his tracksuits and caps, Jay-Z has upgraded his wardrobe in recent years to feature a range of designers.
He now dresses in £3,000 Tom Ford suits, £550 Givenchy T-Shirts and animal skin “Brooklyn Zoo” Jordan 1s trainers costing £2,000.
Travels for work on £30m private jet
Jay-Z keeps up with his busy social schedule with the help of a £30m Bombardier Challenger 850 private jet.
It comes with a kitchen, living room and two bathrooms, according to The Telegraph, and is believed to have ferried Beyonce to London for the 2014 Brit Awards.
Spends £78k on champagne on boozy nights out
The music mogul has become known for his lavish partying.
In February 2018, he spent £10,000 on dinner in New York for the birthday of his friend Juan “OG” Perez, the president of Roc Nation Sports, before paying for the £70,000 bill – which comprised of 40 bottles of his own Ace of Spades champagne brand – at a bar afterwards, and left an £8,600 tip for the staff.
But in 2011, he footed a £192,000 bill for his ‘Watch The Throne’ listening party, and in 2013 spent £76,800 on an apparently ordinary night boozing at an Atlanta nightclub.
He also likes to dine at some of the most exclusive restaurants, including Le Cirque in New York – which invented the crème brûlée – and where a steak costs £44 – which is pretty cheap for him…
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Personal barber who travels around the world with him
Jay-Z can also afford to pay the best people to help him look sharp at all times.
He flies personal barber Johnny Cake – who also cuts Pharrell William’s hair – round the world with him, and shares vegan personal trainer Marco Borges with his wife.
Jay-Z may have become a global superstar rapping about a Hard Knock Life, but these days his world is anything but…