The richest Black man in America might soon be Kanye West, according to projected reports from Bloomberg, which foreshadow his upcoming earnings to be in the $6-7 billion ballpark. In the meantime, a Forbes fact check found that West’s current net worth is actually closer to an estimated $1.8 billion, with the Bloomberg figure having been based on “theoretical future expectations” regarding revenue West’s deal with Gap will yield.
The rapper had reportedly been living at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium ahead of his upcoming album, “Donda.” Having seen its release pushed numerous times since it’s initial July 23 announcement, West’s tenth studio album finally dropped on August 29.
Regardless of just how wealthy West is, it’s clear that he has amassed an enormous fortune from a combination of business ventures after breaking into the music scene with his 2004 album “The College Dropout.” However, you might be surprised just how small of a percentage his music contributes to his overall wealth as we dive into how the world-famous entrepreneur got his start.
Early Life and Rise to Music Stardom
Born Kanye Omari West on June 8, 1977 in Atlanta, Georgia, West lived with his parents, Ray and Donda West, for three years until their divorce. His mother then relocated them to Chicago, Illinois. The mother-son duo went on to live in China for one year while Kanye was 10, which he said had a huge impact on his life. Donda played a tremendous role as both his mother and manager, publishing the book “Raising Kanye: Life Lessons from the Mother of a Hip-Hop Superstar” just six months before her passing in November 2007 due to surgery complications.
The American rapper, producer, fashion designer and entrepreneur first began his music career in 2000 as a producer for Jay-Z’s Roc-A-Fella Records, working with artists like Alicia Keys, John Legend and Janet Jackson. In 2002, West was in a severe car crash which left his jaw wired shut and inspired the track “Through the Wire,” which featured on his 2004 debut album “The College Dropout.” The album was titled appropriately, as West had dropped out of the Chicago’s American Academy of Art to pursue music.
The album received 10 Grammy nominations and a certified triple platinum in the U.S, taking West to the next level of his stardom. With his newfound fame, he continued to release albums: “Late Registration” in 2005, “Graduation” in 2007, “808s & Heartbreak” in 2008, “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” in 2010, a collaboration album with Jay-Z titled “Watch the Throne” in 2011, “Yeezus” in 2013, “The Life of Pablo” in 2016, “Ye” in 2018 and “Jesus is King” in 2019.
West is no stranger to accolades, either. He boasts 21 Grammys and 70 Grammy nominations, as well as his albums “Yeezus” and “The Life of Pablo” both reaching the No.1 position on the Hot 200 Billboard chart.
West has continued to produce music for the likes of 6ix9ine, XXXTentacion, Lil Pump, Chance the Rapper, Kid Cudi, and Teyana Taylor. Even so, his musical endeavors account for a mere 0.05% of his wealth, or an estimated $90 million. The major stakes in his net worth remain largely in his fashion brand, Yeezy, which he owns 100% and earns $150-200 million in royalties per year.
Fashioning a Career
Most of the 44-year-old’s assets come from his fashion ventures, rather than music. His career in the fashion industry started from a sneaker collaboration project between Nike and himself — Air Yeezys — which launched in 2007. The cult following for West’s designs quickly grew and eventually lead to a 10-year contract with Nike’s rival company Adidas in 2013. Two years later, the Yeezy Boost 350 sneaker was born, which created an insane resale value. The coveted shoes skyrocketed in price online, which sneaker-heads lapped up like milk from a spoon.
The iconic sneakers placed Kanye in a world of his own. Yeezy is set to release several new sneakers by the end of this year; three Yeezy Boost 350s V2s called “Mono Ice,” “Mono Mist” and “Mono Clay,” plus a rumored new 700 V3 color way which could be glow-in-the-dark. The news comes after his major restock on Yeezy Supply August 2nd.
In June 2020, West’s Yeezy fashion brand signed a 10-year partnership with Gap. The co-branded collection called Yeezy X Gap will range for men, women and children and is expected to tremendously increase the value of the rapper’s empire.
Don’t get too ahead of yourself, the former CEO of Gap, Mickey Drexler, warned West. Drexler believes West has some potential red flags in his deal, stating Kayne “is not a corporate person.” But the combined value of Yeezy — an Adidas partnership — and Yeezy X Gap already surpassed $4.7 billion, despite the Gap collaboration not even re-leasing yet.
Kim Kardashian Split
West and Kim Kardashian West announced their shocking split in February of this year, after several public meltdowns and Twitter rants from the artist, in which he compared his life to the Jordan Peele horror movie “Get Out.” The pair had long fought over where they should live and raise their family of four, with West choosing the sanctuary of his 4,524-acre Wyoming ranch and Kim preferring the sprawling hills of Los Angeles, near her large immediate family.
The separated couple will eventually have to divvy up their assets in the divorce proceedings, which include an impressive portfolio of real estate together, stakes in each other’s companies and custody of their four children — North, Saint, Chicago and Psalm. Despite Kim selling out her stake in Yeezy earlier this year, Kanye still has a reported $64 million hold in Kim’s lounge and shape-wear brand, Skims.
The A-list divorce is set to be one of the most infamous separations to rock the world this year and will be tasked with tediously separating their combined wealth. Similarly, the world delved into another powerhouse couple divorce this year, the separation of Melinda and Bill Gates’ $148 billion net worth.
The couple are said to be on good terms, with Kardashian supporting West at his latest endeavor, the listening party for his latest album titled “Donda” on July 22. The pair coordinated in monochromatic red outfits, with West adorning several unreleased pieces from his Yeezy X Gap line.
Despite being supportive of one another through the divorce, sources state Kardashian is still planning an upcoming rebrand of her beauty line KKW BEAUTY to separate herself from West’s last name.
Other Business Ventures
Kanye has always lived by the motto “Dream Big,” like when he tried to run for president in 2020. However, this has occasionally ended with some of his business ventures failing through the years, including his travel company Kanye Travel Ventures, fast-food chain venture with Fatburger and, most recently, his ties to the nonprofit Donda House.
West has long been philanthropic; in 2011 he and fellow rapper Che “Rhymefest” Smith co-created the nonprofit charity Donda House in his hometown of Chicago to honor his late-mother. The charity become the center of a controversy in 2018 when Rhymefest tweeted at rapper Drake for support, stating Kanye abandoned the project.
Kim Kardashian West took to Twitter to blast Rhymefest, saying he would no longer be featured on Kanye’s album at the time, “Ye.” This backlash came after the nonprofit released a statement in May 2018 that the charity was unable to secure funding for construction and was distancing itself from Kanye West due to his public support of President Donald Trump. The nonprofit quickly rebranded after the incident to Art of Culture, Inc. and has separated its ties from Kanye all-together.
Despite all this, West continues to aim high with his efforts. His latest big dream began in 2018, an initiative he announced as Yeezy Home, to create an affordable housing development in Calabasas, California. West fiddled with several “Star Wars”-inspired dome prototypes, which the city eventually made him tear down due to lack of permits.
Yeezy Home is the architecture arm of his expanded Yeezy empire and aims to tackle the housing crisis by creating low-income homes composed of prefabricated concrete modules, called YZY SHLTRS. It is unsure if West is continuing with this project, but true Kanye fans know to never get too comfortable, as the artist is always coming up with something new.
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Last updated: August 30, 2021
This article originally appeared on GOBankingRates.com: How Much Kanye West Is Worth Upon Release of ‘Donda’ Album