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How hip-hop millionaires rise from the margins

As artists including Dr Dre and Jay Z build fortunes, the same entrepreneurial potential can be seen at street level

Why do some rap artists take so readily to the boardroom, asked an article last week about the rise of hip-hop millionaires? And there was certainly evidence of that transition. Dr Dre is the top-dog rap mogul with a fortune – estimated by Forbes – of $620m in 2014. Jay Z and P Diddy had $60m on this count, fortunes built on music and spin-off merchandising. You never know who the gods will smile upon. I have the first Dr Dre album I am aware of – with NWA – on vinyl in a box in the loft. It wasn’t that great.

What do we know of these street culture billionaires? Dre got his first leg up from Eric Wright, a drug dealer who bailed him out of jail with a proviso that he worked thereafter for his music label. Jay Z was a drug dealer in New York. P Diddy’s father was an associate of Frank Lucas, the heroin dealer immortalised in the Denzel Washington movie American Gangster. None rose through the old boys network.

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