I love rap music. Biggie, Kanye, Drake, Jay Z, Wale, Lil Durk, Iamsu, Wiz, and many other rappers fill my head daily. I love the beats and the flows, but most of all I love the inspirational lyrics.
One day I dream of writing a philosophy of rap book on all the life lessons embedded in hip-hop and their evolution over time.
I got my first rap CD when I was 8 years old – my babysitter lent me his Biggie CD before he went to college and never asked for it back. As crazy as it seems, I’ve learned a lot about personal finance, and life, from rappers over the years.
5 Rappers on Personal Finance
Let’s take a look at some of the best personal finance lessons from rap lyrics. Let’s start with the Big Poppa himself.
1. Notorious B.I.G/Biggie Smalls
“Damn right I like the life I live because I went from negative to positive.”
Biggie is the best rapper of all time. Period. He also taught me a lot about money at a young age. His story is a legend.
Biggie was one of, if not the first rapper, who went from hustling drugs on the streets to multi-millionaire rappers in a few short years.
He also was one of the first rappers to really glorify his rags-to-riches story in his music. His music is a celebration of his hustle and his success. His songs are aspirational and inspiring. They are also still relevant.
A vast majority of Millennials and all Americans are still in the “negative”. 60% of Millennials have less than $1,000 saved in their bank accounts and have fallen behind.
But the key to unlocking financial freedom is to escape living paycheck to paycheck and get to positive. That is where you can really live the life you want. I mean who can forget this gem, “Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis, when I was dead broke I couldn’t picture this.” Super Nintendo is the OG.
Biggie also taught us that the key to unlocking wealth is to follow our hearts. And that making money and finding joy comes from doing what you love. One fact that always blows my mind is that Biggie was writing these raps when he was 20 years old and he died at only 24. His wisdom was well beyond his years.
Biggie Money Quotes and Personal Finance Lessons:
- Get Out of Debt: “Damn right I like the life I live because I went from negative to positive.”
- Follow Your Passion and Money Will Follow: “Stay far from timid and only make moves when your heart is in it.”
- More Money Brings More Problems: “I don’t know what, they want from me, it’s like the more money we come across the more problems we see.”
- You’ve Got to Change and Evolve: “We can’t change the world unless we change ourselves”
- Don’t Stress too Much About Money: “Learn to treat life to the best, put stress to rest.”
- Invest in a 529: “Take a better stand. Put money in my mom’s hand. Get my daughter this college plan, so she don’t need no man.”
2. Kanye West
“Having money isn’t everything, not having it is.”
Kanye has some pretty profound insights on making, saving, spending, and building wealth across his albums. Who knew Kanye was such a personal finance guru?
The first time I heard this line in Kanye’s song “Good Life,” ft. T-Pain, I set it on repeat and listened to it at least 10 times. This is one of my favorite songs and easily one of Kanye’s best.
Mr. West is right, there’s more to life than money when you have some, but money seems to be everything when you don’t. Seriously, let that settle in. When you listen to Kanye’s albums he models a similar rags-to-riches journey as Biggie, but with a more self-conflicted journey.
Kanye Money Quotes and Personal Finance Lessons:
- There’s More to Life Than Money: “Let’s go on a living spree, they say the best things in life are free”
- Be Careful There’s a lot of Greed at the Top: “It seems we living the American dream | But the people highest up got the lowest self-esteem | The prettiest people do the ugliest things | For the road to riches and diamond rings.”
- Treat Yourself and Enjoy Yourself: “I remember I couldn’t afford a Ford Escort / Or even a four-track recorder / So it’s only right that I let the top drop on a drop-top Porsche | It’s for yourself, that’s important.”
- Money Can’t Buy You Happiness: “The devil is alive I feel him breathin’ | Claiming money is the key, so keep on dreamin’ | And put them lottery tickets just to tease us.”
- Don’t spend too much money: “I want to act ballerific like it’s all terrific | I got a couple past-due bills, I won’t get specific | I got a problem with spendin’ before I get it.”
- Remember Where You Started: “Before anybody wanted K. West beats | Me and my girl split the buffet at KFC.”
3. Jay Z
“I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell, I am a hustler baby, I’ll sell water to a well”
Jay Z is another escape from Brooklyn drug dealing rapper, who raps a lot about making it. He is also uniquely the first rapper who turned himself into a massive brand. He’s not just a rapper, he’s an investor, a mogul.
Jay Z also endorses a ton of products and gets sponsorships. Not only is he a brand, but he married Beyonce who is her own brand. Jay Z is a true hustler and redefining what it means to be a mogul in today’s environment. Anyone who wants to be an entrepreneur can learn a lot from listening to Jay Z’s music.
Jay Z Money Quotes and Personal Finance Lessons:
- Create Side Hustles: “I sell ice in the winter, I sell fire in hell, I am a hustler baby, I’ll sell water to a well”
- Build Your Personal Brand: “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man…”
- Get Paid What You are Worth: “My mind on my money, money on my mind If you owe me ten dollars, you ain’t giving me nine”
- Know Your Market: “I dumbed down my audience to double my dollars”
- Compound Interest is Key: “You already know, you light I’m heavy roll, heavy dough. Mic macheted your flow, your paper falls slow like confetti, mines a steady grow.”
- Take Risks: “I’m not afraid of dying, I’m afraid of not trying”
“Oh well guess you win some and lose some, as long as the outcome is income”
Drake famously made $25 million by the time he was 25. The former actor-turned-rapper was a massive success from the day he took the mic. The famously philosophical and self-aware singer tends to over-analyze all aspects of his life in his songs.
While he didn’t come from rags to riches, he sings about money a lot and tries to make as much as possible. But like all of us, Drake gets conflicted and struggles over whether he should be hustling so hard since money can’t buy you time.
I always appreciate Drakes’s deep thoughts and everyone should be more self-aware when it comes to their relationship with money.
Drake Money Quotes and Personal Finance Lessons:
- Diversification Leads to Wealth: “Oh well guess you win some and lose some, as long as the outcome is income”
- Keep Working Hard and Saving: “I just been playing, I didn’t know I was winning”
- Money Buys you Freedom: “I got car money, fresh start money”
- Don’t Let Money Change You: “I like when money makes a difference, but don’t make you different”
- Money Can’t Buy You Time (and time is more valuable than money): “What good is all the cash if it doesn’t buy time?”
“If I woke up tomorrow and didn’t have a dolla, as long as I have my heart, I can get it all over.”
Wale is a conscious rapper who speaks the truth all over his albums. I love the juxtaposition of light and heavy topics throughout his music.
He is also one of those rappers who both flaunt but also shun wealth – like Drake caught in between wanting, but not wanting to want, more money. A lot of rappers pose this question – when is enough, enough? But no one does it better than Wale.
Wale Money Quotes and Personal Finance Lessons:
- It’s natural to have a love/hate relationship with money: “Music is full of relevance and money’s overrated. That’s why I spend it like I look at it with hatred.”
- Don’t focus all of your energy on making money or trying to be famous: “Took my mind away from money. I ain’t interested in fame, and I pray that never changes”
- Family first: “Family is everything and money is less important.”
- Be meaningful and build something unique: “I’m tired of making money, I’m on making history”
- Be smart with the money you make and keep building: “Make the least of your haters, make the most of your money. Have that consistent drive long as your motors running”