Even by hip hop’s standards, Lil Wayne has endured a career filled with as much scrutiny as it has been with success. He’s a multi platinum rapper with a string of successful hits, but he’s also been incarcerated for weapons charges and spent a year in prison.
Despite the controversy, or maybe partly because of it, Lil Wayne’s net worth still clocks in at $150.0 million, making him one of the richest rappers alive.
This is the Carter
Though Wayne enjoyed a solid beginning to his rap career with the Hot Boys, his music really took flight with his Tha Carter III album. Released in 2008, his most prominent record to date would sell just over one million copies in its first week of sales alone. At the time, it was the first album since 2005 to accomplish that feat. It would go on to sell close to three million copies by the year’s end.
With the release of his previous album Tha Carter II, Wayne had started his subsidiary label Young Money. It was a part of the bigger Cash Money imprint to which he was signed, and it connected both him and his new label to Universal Music Group, one of the largest music distributors in the world. Wayne would earn half a million a year just off of production income from starting Young Money.
Label Mates and Matters
In 2009, Wayne would use his Young Money moniker to sign two of Hip Hop’s biggest stars: Nicki Minaj and Drake. Both would go on to sell millions of albums in their own right, and are currently leading this generation of hip hop artists as far as popularity, tours, and making boatloads of money go.
As successful as Wayne had been up to this point, both with his own career and profiting off of the success of his label mates, there was still some discontentment. Cash Money founder Bryan “Birdman” Williams, who is the one who signed Wayne when he was just 13 years old, was at the center of Wayne’s issues with the label.
The dispute lead Wayne to file a $51.0 million lawsuit against Cash Money, claiming $10.0 million of which for delaying his Carter V album, along with unpaid royalties for him and his Young Money artists, specifically Drake. In response, Birdman did an interview with Hot 97’s Angie Martinez at his Miami mansion. In the interview, he claimed to have already given Wayne $100.0 million, of which about $60.0 million was upfront.
The two appeared to have squashed whatever beef they had earlier this year, appearing on stage together at a Drake show in Miami on New Year’s Eve. Nothing else has been publicly stated about the lawsuit and whether the pair has fully worked out their differences, but the image of both of them together has at least prompted some hopeful expectations.
Wayne Does the Dew
Even though Wayne has been in the music game for close to 20 years, he hasn’t done the typical endorsement deals you think would fit someone of his stature and influence. His first major deal came four years ago, when he signed a multimillion dollar deal with Mountain Dew.
|Earnings per show||$600,000|
|Touring (2009 – 2011)||$90.0 million|
|2015 earnings||$15.0 million|
|Current estimated net worth||$150.0 million|
But, as has been standard for Wayne’s career, more controversy followed. Just a year after signing the deal, Mountain Dew discontinued its relationship with the Young Money rapper. Mountain Dew cites an offensive lyric in one of Lil Wayne’s songs that references murdered black teenager, Emmett Till. The uproar was started by the Till family and caused enough commotion to force Mountain Dew to make the move and veer away from Wayne.
Wayne isn’t completely oblivious to the endorsement game, though. He has a clothing line called Trukfit, which he debuted in 2012 and just recently rebranded. He also has his own Beats By Dre headphones called Tunechi, along with other small investments.
Despite all of his tribulations, Wayne is still an in-demand artist. By 2012, he was pulling in upwards of $600,000 per performance, and in 2013, he led all rappers by earning a reported $46.0 million that year alone. He may be on the decline of his career, meaning his output and notoriety within hip hop is not as grand as it once was, but that hasn’t stopped him from earning millions—$15.0 million, to be exact, just last year.
We’ll have to wait to see what happens with the whole Birdman kerfuffle, and maybe this will be the year his fans finally get his long awaited Carter V. If his past is any indication, you just never know with Lil Wayne!