While hip-hop has always been a lucrative industry, it’s wealth in 2017 is at an all-time high. With artist signing extremely prosperous contracts each day, from record deals to deals with streaming services and endorsements, how they choose to allocate this wealth is something to be questioned. The early and mid-2000s in the hip-hop scene was essentially categorized by flaunting the lavish and profitable lifestyles rappers lived. The likes of 50 cent and Jay-Z became moguls of multiple industries, consistently investing and letting their listeners know about it. From mentioning the purchasing of mansions, to quarter-million dollar cars, to renting out night clubs; this was part of their every day rhetoric. Rappers such as Drake and Meek Mill of today continue to represent this ideology, mentioning “money, hoes, and clothes” in every bar they can (word to Notorious B.I.G.). According to Business Insider, Drake’s home in Hidden Hills, CA (pictured below ) is worth nearly $8 million, and was originally constructed to rival that of Hugh Hefner’s playboy mansion.
Drake’s known rap game-rival Meek Mill is also not shy about flashing his wealth, as one quick look to his Instagram can tell you. But on the contrary lies a pair of rappers who have done everything they can to deviate themselves from this image. According to BET.com, Kendrick Lamar’s Eastvale, CA home purchased in 2014 was worth a modest $523,500; right around the median home price for the Southern California area. Kendrick also makes mention of his simple style in his controversial verse on Big Sean’s “Control”, citing a white t-shirt and Nike Cortez as his go-to fit. In a December 11th, 2014 sit-down with J.Cole on the Angie Martinez show, Cole went on to state that he had just sold his 2015 Range Rover because he’d rather ride his bike around NYC. Cole went on in the interview to explain how he had gotten over flashing his wealth, and how he had been focused on appreciating many other aspects of his life at this point. After a recent meeting with Chicago’s mayor went south, South Side’s own Chance the Rapper went on to donate $1 million to Chicago public schools to address their drastically underfunded system. While throughout much of hip-hop history, headlines about rappers just straight showing out has grabbed much attention, the modesty by newcomers to the game has in turn grabbed attention. In an increasingly socially-conscious generation, it is worth questioning what approach is more admirable. Rappers who choose to flex should not be treated as villains, but their overwhelming influence over society should certainly be treated with responsibility.