After years of living life as a self-proclaimed billionaire, Kanye West felt like he never received appropriate estimates for his financial achievements. Until last week, when Forbes finally added West to their billionaires-list. Along with his love-hate colleague Jay-Z, with whom he collaborated on the ‘Watch the Throne’-album, are currently the only two HipHop-artists to see their value represent at least ten digits.
Quite in fashion with recent antics, Kanye West was responsible for quite some drama in the past months. When Forbes published their annual billionaires list, it was to his displeasure when it confirmed another absence of the Chicago-born rapper and fashion designer. While his sister-in-law, Kylie Jenner, found herself back as the youngest billionaire for the second year in a row and (former?) friend Jay-Z were prominently featured in the rankings, Kanye West was not included. Weird to some, especially as the magazine used West for a cover story and earlier his wife, Kim Kardashian, had already implied a new, elite status was all but confirmed.
His net worth saw quite the upgrade last week.
The Odd One Out
With the rise of Yeezy, a Kanye West-owned clothing brand, branching out to architecture, and even planning to start a church, many assumed that adding a billionaire-status to West’s name was only a formality. While many colleagues in the industry started investing in side-projects like headphones (Dr. Dre), exclusive vodka (Diddy, Jay-Z), and sports (Jay-Z) and consequently saw their net worth valued around one billion dollars, West and his Yeezy-brands would halt at a meagre 240 million dollars. But that net worth saw quite the upgrade last week, after West publicly denounced the list and consequently provided full insights in many of his assets.
Whilst West has been a leading figure in the global music industry, both with his music as well as his actions outside the studio, his music-revenues total up to ‘only’ 52 million dollar. Much of this is explained by his private spending: next to outrageous spending on ‘armoured vehicles’ (read: tanks) and properties in Los Angeles, Chicago and Wyoming, West is known to spend much of his own money right back in his music. By paying his tours himself and flying out the Sunday Service, a religious group performing Kanye songs in places ranging from Coachella to Africa, not much money is left over for West to make a profit.
This situation is different when we look at Yeezy. The company, valued at a whopping 1.3 billion dollars, is officially owned 100% by Kanye West. Yet, another document proves that West only receives fifteen percent of what Yeezy makes. It does, however, solve the mystery as to why West is valued at 240 million, as 15% of 1.3 billion plus the music profits would end up in that range. It doesn’t explain why he should now all of a sudden be seen as a billionaire. After all, the one thing that requires someone to be considered a billionaire – you know, actually owning a billion dollars – cannot be proven.
For calculations’ sake, and maybe to appeal to Kanye West a little more, Forbes calculated his net worth assuming he actually owns all of Yeezy. This would result in West, just as he claims, in having a net worth of 1.3 billion – 300 million more than both Jay-Z and Kylie Jenner, though a little leeway is required to actually compare the three. At the very least it justifies the claims of both West and Kim Kardashian that the family has doubled in billionaires ever since last year.
So, the show must go on.
All in all, a dramatic story about one’s ego seemed to take quite a lot of effort to actually be resolved, but at the end of the day all parties seemed to be happy. For a whole 12 hours everything seemed fine, but then Kanye West made up his mind again. No longer wanted he to be valued as ‘just a billionaire’, which was already kind of a stretch but could be justified. According to him, he was worth triple that: 3.3 billion dollars to his name would be a more exact evaluation. And so, just like we know the extravagant artist, this story fits perfectly in the drama that is Kanye West: petty and unrecognizable to most but at the same time very entertaining. And, so the show must go on, even when actual, physical shows are no longer possible now.
Cover: Mathieu Lebreton