His legal name is now Ye, but you may still know him as Kanye West. Nevertheless, regardless of whatever name he chooses to go by, he is, without doubt, one of the greatest musical geniuses of our time, if not all time. Having sold over 160 million records, he has influenced a whole generation of musicians that have come after his debut. In 2016, Time Magazine even named him on the 30 Most Influential People on the Internet list.
Ye is one rapper who is never out of the spotlight for too long. He always finds himself at the center of a controversial topic of discussion, mostly due to his actions or statements. Most famously (or infamously), Kanye interrupted Taylor Swift's award acceptance speech at the 2009 VMAs, leading to a long feud between the two. He has also called slavery a choice, gone on Twitter rants, and most recently, online-bullied Pete Davidson for dating his ex-wife.
All the musical achievements and fame might give the impression that Ye has been financially stable for a long time. Unfortunately, that was not always the case. Let's take a closer look at Kanye's financial history.
Of course, when he started as a hip-hop producer, he was not exactly financially comfortable. At the same time, he was never living in poverty since, for most of the time before his debut as a rapper, Kanye lived with his mother. His mother worked as a college English professor before retiring to work for Ye just as his career started to take off. All of this leads us to believe that Kanye probably did not have it very tough financially, even growing up.
After releasing The College Dropout, his first studio album, which debuted at #2 on the US Billboard 200 and sold 441,000 in its first week, Kanye's fortunes began to improve. By 2013, he had released 7 other albums, including My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, which enjoyed huge success, and Watch the Throne, a collab album with Jay-Z. In 2014, he was worth ~$30 million.
Surprisingly though, in 2016, Kanye announced that he was $53 million in debt. On a track titled Saint Pablo from The __Life of Pablo album he released in 2016, Kanye raps, 'Got friends that ask me for money knowing I'm in debt, and like my wife said, I still didn’t say no.” Apparently, Kanye, who has always been a huge fashion lover, tried to invest in some fashion-related businesses. And, to sum it up nicely, he did not get the returns he was hoping for.
Through The Wire
When discussing his finances on The Late __Late Show with James Corden in 2019, Kanye revealed that even after making $115 million in 2018, he was still $35 million in debt. He also discussed how he got $68 million in tax returns in 2019. But that wasn't all the cash the rapper got in 2019. Forbes estimated he was the highest hip-hop earner, with Yeezy Shoes
doing $1.5 billion in sales that year, giving the rapper ~$150 million in income before taxes for 2019.
Finally, in 2020, Forbes Magazine announced that Ye was a billionaire. According to Forbes, Ye was more than persistent and increasingly insisted that the magazine announce his entrance into the billionaire’s club. Funny enough, he made most of his money from Yeezy, his sneaker brand under Adidas. So, at the end of the day, fashion put him in debt but later made him a billionaire!
His stake in Yeezy, along with cars, houses, land, and livestock, were all valued by Forbes before he was awarded the billionaire tag. According to Forbes, Kanye's net worth in 2020 was $1.3 billion. However, Kanye vehemently rejected their valuation, claiming that he was worth $3.3 billion and that nobody at Forbes “knows how to count.”
In March 2022, Kim Kardashian divorced Kanye, and as a result, both parties will have to split some assets, possibly affecting his finances. But today, Kanye West is valued by Forbes to be worth $2 billion. If you ask him, though, he'll probably tell you he's worth a lot more than that. Some other sources have also valued Ye differently, given his recent deals with Gap and Balenciaga.
Current Net Worth: $2 Billion
The $2 Billion Tag: Richest Rapper Alive?
Kanye West’s current net worth of $2 billion makes him the richest rapper alive and the richest musician in the world. And what do you do when you're worth $2 billion? Pretty much anything you want, as long as it isn't illegal. Julia Fox, an actress and model Ye dated after his divorce from Kim Kardashian, described Ye as someone who made anything possible. Even the wildest ideas.
Well, Ye is known for doing some wild things. He recently released his latest (and still unfinished) album, Donda 2, exclusively on the STEM player. His decision to release exclusively on the STEM player was fueled by anger at the amount of money streaming services were making off his music. For a while, the decision paid off, but there are now rumors that the album will be finished and released through regular channels.
Ye has also started a school called Donda Academy and a sports agency, Donda Sports.