Musicians of African-American heritage have been an integral part of the global popular music scene from the times of Bob Marley and Tupac Shakur to Snoop Dogg. They are a dominant fixture in most genres of music, contrary to popular belief that Black musicians are only interested in creating rap and hip-hop tracks.
The unique quality of popular Black music artists is that they usually try to make an industry out of their widespread appeal and they get into merchandising. Once the hegemony of Black musicians, this business model is now duplicated by many other musicians in the industry. It feeds into their popularity and helps them dominate the music scene with fame and numbers.
We are all aware of Jay-Z’s multi-million dollar brand which doesn’t stand solely on his popularity as a musician, as Hova invests in real estate, art, and owns companies like his music streaming service Tidal. Rihanna hitting the headlines as the richest female musician of all time, is another example. Her cosmetic and fashion brand, Fenty, plays a big part in her $600 Million net-worth. However, these two aren’t the only Black artists ruling our hearts and our wallets. Here’s a look at some of the other men and women of African-American origin who’ve managed to make a lion’s space for themselves in the cramped up music industry.
Kanye West: $250 Million
Yes, Kanye West is mostly on the news for some Twitter rant or feud but don’t judge his musicianship by his antics. Kanye is one of the biggest artists in the music industry and enjoys mass appeal despite his occasional not-so-pleasant personality. One look at the success of his Yeezy Clothing brand and you’ll know what we’re talking about.
Beyonce: $500 Million
All hail Queen Bey. Beyonce has had a prolific singing career – from a sought after member of the popular girl band Destiny’s Child to a solo musician. Female Black musicians are just as prominent in the music industry as their male counterparts. Beyonce has not been shy of using her music and popularity to make affirming statements in support of the Black Lives Matter movement in the music videos of her songs “Freedom” and “Formation”.
The Weeknd: $70 Million
Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd is a recent addition to the bandwagon of successful Black musicians taking the pop music industry by storm. He tasted fame with the release of his début album “Beauty Behind the Madness” in 2015. Three tracks from this album made the Top 3 ranks on the International R&B charts.
Kendrick Lamar $55 Million
Lamar’s success can be measured by the 11 nominations that he received at the 58th Grammy Awards that included “Album of the Year” and “Song of the Year” besides “Best Rap Album.” The artist’s politically charged performance to “The Blacker the Berry” is now part of Grammy history.