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3 ways to not go broke as an artist in the rap game, as told by OGs

Nowadays, when you see a hip-hop artist, more than likely they’ve accompanied with jewelry, cash, cars, women and all the glitz and glamour you can imagine.

They come off as rebels and appear to walk with a sense of reckless abandon that’s just flat out inspiring. It looks cool to be a rapper — so who wouldn’t want to be one?

Little do many know, however, the life of a music artist is anything but a cakewalk, and send many who get on spiraling out of control broke.

MC Hammer infamously lost millions, Lauren Hill is the only hip-hop artist to win Album of The Year at the Grammy’s and was avoiding tax evasion, and I don’t need to remind you of the episode of MTV Cribs where Redman’s house looked like that of an entry-level car salesman well into his 50’s.

These are rappers of old who struggled to hold on to their initial big bag and it’s even harder to make a bag today.

According to an extensive report from Citigroup (via Pitchfork), out of the music industry’s $43 billion in revenue in 2017, only 12% actually went to artists. In layman’s terms, that’s $5 billion going to the people who are essentially the foundation of this entire business.

Ever since music became digital people went from buying CDs to getting it for free.

Honestly, streaming companies are lucky they get our little $9.99 and that hurts every time it comes out, too. I still be trying to switch up emails.

Well, now some rappers are coming together both young and old, to drop game on how best not to go broke thanks to a special that dropped on BET last week.

The doc features Too Short, Nipsey Hussle, Dreezy and many other rappers and has tons of personal stories as well and gems to apply to your life even if you’re not an aspiring artist.

Here are the three of the top ones.

Save more than you spend

According to Cousin Stizz, a Boston rapper who was featured on the BET piece, spending money on things you want is inevitable, it’s all about “getting to the point where you’re making money faster than you’re spending it.” And he’s right.

Artists or not, it’s easy to get caught up in ‘lifestyle’ and ‘culture’. We’ll see a way of life, get a taste, then think that’s the way it should always be — but that’s the trap.

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Too Short said he didn’t ball out until his third check.

He’d received some nice-sized checks up until then but waited to enjoy them until he really got paid, which should be a model for all young artists today.

Invest in yourself

When a lot of these rappers get their first check they’re young, teenagers even, who blow it on everything but what they need. But if they want longevity, according to Jimmy Iovine, the first big purchase they should make is a studio.

An artist purchasing their own studio is akin to a painter getting the best utensils money can buy or an athlete investing in a chef — it’s protecting the machine that got them there. But most artists don’t think that way; at least not out the gate.

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As early as possible it’s imperative music artists start viewing themselves as a brand and as operating self-sufficiently as possible. Not relying on others to make high-quality content not only makes them prolific but saves them money on the backend.

Music artists who invest in their abilities early are the ones who last until later.

Circle of accountability

One of the most repeated pieces of advice given by almost all the rappers featured in the doc is the importance of having a solid crew around you.

This might not seem applicable when it comes to monitoring your pockets seeing that they’d just be more mouths to feed but actually it’s quite to the opposite.

If and when you have legitimate genuine individuals around you who are interested in your best interest, they’ll intervene in times of folly and you’ll be able to trust them with and around your money. “In order to be a dynasty, you have to put the right personnel together,” rapper D Dot says on the doc.

There will be a lot of money coming in rappers inevitably will need help handling it, which is why the team must be trustworthy.

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However, many rappers have ‘yes-men’ — or people around them who only affirm — and other leeches who appear to be for you but who are looking for a check. If your team is clear of those, you should be in good shape.

It seems like only beef and controversy gets shared in hip-hop so it’s good to see the elder statesmen in the game come together with the youth to shed knowledge.

To see the rest of the doc and peep more tips on how rappers can keep from going broke, peep the video above.