While it’s not entirely official yet, hip hop artist Sean “Diddy” Combs is poised to become hip hop’s first artist to hit the ten figure mark.
Officially, Forbes magazine places his estimated net worth at US $820 million, but have long suggested that the billionaire status is very much within reach for the accomplished rapper.
In fact, Combs piqued the hope of his fandom earlier this year when he released a video on Youtube, seemingly announcing that he had already made a billion dollars.
In the video, Combs reminisces on how far he’s come. While eating a scrumptious-looking lunch of salmon, greens and potatoes, he declares that many have doubted his potential and how he eventually proved them wrong.
The video expectedly caused a huge stir with many even calling the announcement “long overdue news”.
However, Combs quickly released a correctional statement shortly after, urging fans and music commentators alike to not take his words literally.
He went on to explain though many thought he “had become hip-hop’s first billionaire”, that that “was not the case”.
He then playfully added “the race is still on”, which was possibly a friendly challenge to other “hustlers” (Jay Z and Dr Dre) who are hot on his tail and too, on the verge of achieving billionaire status.
What could this change?
From altering his stage name from Puff Daddy to P. Diddy to just Diddy over the past few years, Combs, regardless of what he’s called, has always been a household name in hip hop.
However, should he truly reach the billionaire milestone, Combs could very well revolutionize the cultural and economic face of the music industry.
He would be a pioneer
Racial equality has always been a contentious topic in America.
And despite having its first African American president in Barack Obama, many Americans have discerned that the “post-racialism” promise – which was a recurring theme of Obama’s 2008 and 2012 presidential campaign – did little to placate the underlying racial tensions that plagued the country.
Case in point, the recent shootings, riots and instances of police brutality dampened the spirits of the African American community, further shedding light on the divide between different racial groups in the US of A.
After all, to some, the American Dream is exactly just that – a dream.
As of today, there have only been three African American billionaires in Forbes history, with the richest being media mogul and talk show host Oprah Winfrey (she has a cumulative net worth of US $3 billion).
And according to entrepreneur and host Paul Brunson, “despite making great strides over the last several decades, we [the African American community] still lag behind in every economic category, including broad disparities in unemployment and poverty rates”.
However, should Combs eventually join the billionaires’ club, his success may be a symbolic step towards financial empowerment for his community and would become “a symbol of economic power”.
He would legitimize hip hop economically
It’s no secret that hip hop (founded in 1973), when compared to genres such as rock or pop, is a relatively new brand of music.
As a result, many have had their qualms about the new musical kid on the block and its potential.
Additionally, according to The Richest, the music industry, on its own, has only produced two other billionaires – rock singer Sir Paul McCartney and theatrical composer Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Hence, if Combs does indeed join their ranks, he would be the third musical artist in history to do so, thereby becoming a living testament to the economic power of hip hop.
Further supporting this idea – it is useful to mention that fellow hip hop veterans Jay Z, with a net worth of US $810 million, and powerhouse producer Dr Dre, whose net worth is estimated at an equally respectable US $740 million, are also predicted to join the billionaires’ club in the near future.
Diversity is key
Traditionally, billionaires were formed through a single source of wealth creation. However, Combs’ entrance could further challenge this notion.
As of 2017, there are around 2,000 billionaires in the world and according to Forbes, almost 98 per cent of them owe their massive portfolio to a single source – some noteworthy examples include Bill Gates (Microsoft), Jeff Bezos (Amazon), and Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook).
However, Combs’ portfolio is uncharacteristically diverse and he currently has stakes in Bad Boy Records, Revolt TV, Wine & Spirits, Sean John, AQUAhydrate, and more.
With a wide spectrum of investments to boast, Combs is paving the way for a new form of wealth creation and amidst a list of ‘firsts’, he is unapologetically proving to the masses that while nice guys may finish last, Bad Boys certainly don’t.