The current climate of Hip-Hop is considerably different than the fledgling years when the culture first emerged in the streets of NYC. In the late 80’s and early 90’s, Hip-Hop was based mostly on lyricism, individuality and pure skills. But ever since the genre went global and mainstream, the Hip-Hop landscape has totally changed. The top rappers in the industry are now huge pop stars. They tour the globe non-stop and sign lucrative endorsement deals with some of the biggest companies in the world. The bottom line is this: Hip-Hop has gone corporate and rappers are richer than ever. The dons of the Hip-Hop world have embraced the wealthy lifestyle: expensive cars, huge mansions, high-end strip clubs, private planes, priceless jewelry and rare, expensive cigars. In this article, we talk about some of the most successful rappers in the industry, and their penchant for smoking the finest cigars.
In the present Hip-Hop landscape, Jay-Z is definitely the King and his beautiful wife Beyoncé is his reigning queen. Ever since, he started his career in the early 90’s, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter has continuously upgraded his status in the entertainment realm. From his clothing line Roca-Wear to his management company Roc Nation which oversees the careers of global music stars like Shakira, Rihanna and Kylie Minogue, Jay has constantly proven his keen business mind. His management company has even expanded into the realm of sports, recently signing CC Sabathia, Kevin Durant and Victor Cruz. Jay-Z is often pictured smoking cigars and he loves them so much that he recently collaborated with well-known cigar brand Cohiba to launch the Comador line of cigars. The premium cigars can be purchased for about $350 each. With a business mind as sharp and ambitious as Mr. Carter’s, we can definitely expect many more lucrative ventures from him in the coming years.
Nasir Jones aka Nas is one of the most respected lyricists in the Hip-Hop industry. His debut album Illmatic released in 1994 is widely considered to be one of the best and most brilliant rap albums of all time. Nas came up from very humble beginnings in the Queensbridge projects of NYC. His first album was extremely gritty and raw, but by the time his second album came around, Mr. Jones had developed a taste for the good life and the subject matter of his songs changed considerably. In one of his videos for that album named “Street Dreams,” the setting was a lavish casino in Vegas. In the video, Nas can be seen smoking cigars and dressed in flamboyant, colored suits. Also in 2008, on an album by DJ Khaled titled We Global, Nas rapped the lyrics: “Getting my dough, cigars are hand-rolled, From Guantanamo, Gallardos, the car show.”
Although Nas may not be as heavy into the business world as Jay-Z, he has done very well for himself. He has an exclusive sneaker shop opening soon in Las Vegas, a clothing brand called HSTRY, and an endorsement deal with Hennessy. There are also rumors that a cable show is in development about his life and experiences during the recording of his first album. Needless to say, Nas isn’t going broke any time soon.
6. Sean Combs
Sean “P.Diddy” Combs is an undeniable force of nature. Not only has he been a main presence in the music industry for the last 20 years, he has also made his mark on the clothing industry (with his brand Sean John), the movie industry (with films like Monster’s Ball), and even in the liquor industry (with his brand Ciroc). He’s a multi-millionaire well on his way to becoming rap music’s first billionaire, and his new cable channel called Revolt might be the venture that takes him to a billion dollars. P.Diddy is no stranger to the good life. He’s known for throwing extravagant parties, vacationing in St.Tropez on expensive yachts, chartering private jets and smoking the finest cigars (as shown above). Let’s be honest – if you lived his life, you’d probably do the same.
5. Rick Ross
In the Hip-Hop industry, being considerably overweight and not conventionally handsome are not necessarily bad things. The careers of artists like Big Pun, Heavy D and Biggie Smalls were extremely successful because of their rhyming ability, regardless of their substantial physical frames. In the current era of rap music, Rick Ross holds that mantle. Hailing from Miami, Ross has become popular for his sheer confidence and ease when rapping. He’s also extremely skilled at telling vivid tales of both the hardcore street life as well as the luxury, lavish life. He is currently one of the elite rappers in the game and has worked with the best of the best including Pharrell, Jay-Z, Nas, Kanye West, just to name a few. Ross is so in love with the plush life that he named his label Maybach Music Group after the ultra-luxury, vehicle manufactured by Mercedes. Rick Ross also has a deep love for the best cigars money can buy. On his third album Deeper than Rap, he had a song dedicated to one of his favorite pleasures titled “Cigar Music.” On this track, he raps the following lyrics, “Fascinated with foreign felines, Since I was knee high, This cigar got me buzzin like a Bee hive.”
Rick Ross’s sixth and newest LP just dropped this month, and it’s called MasterMind. It’s a safe bet to assume there will be several luxury rap lyrics on the new album from this heavyweight rap champion.
Hailing from Atlanta, T.I. has often been called the southern version of Jay-Z. He exploded on the scene with his first album in 2001, and he quickly gained a following for his forceful rapping delivery and his clever way with words. Over the years, T.I. has grown into quite the accomplished entertainer. He’s acted in several movies (ATL, American Gangster), has his own reality show, owns a clothing line (Akoo) and does career arcs in some of the most critically acclaimed TV series like Boss, House of Lies and more. He can often been seen dressed up in the finest suits and a fresh haircut, and he’s even been featured on the cover of the premier cigar-industry publication, Smoke. With his abundant success, there have been some pitfalls along the way including serious run-ins with the law. However it looks like he has put those missteps behind him, it certainly seems like smooth sailing for the multi-faceted entertainer from here on out.
3. DJ Khaled
If the Hip-Hop industry was a kids’ classroom, DJ Khaled would most likely the loudmouth of the class. A DJ by trade, Khaled has found a way to transform his record-spinning ability and ear for hit-songs into major bucks in the music industry. DJ Khaled’s songs are known for being jam-packed with celebrity rappers/singers like Nicki Minaj, Chris Brown, Lil Wayne, Rick Ross and more. Similar to be a modern-day Quincy Jones, he’s able to harness all these different musical influences and create songs that go straight to the top of the charts. Also, on almost every song, he’s quick to yell out his catchphrase “We the Best” which is also the name of his record label. DJ Khaled enjoys his cigars and flaunting his wealth. In most of his music videos and press pictures, he’s puffing a fat cigar and he even named his latest album Suffering from Success to let the world now how well he’s doing financially.
2. Fat Joe
The rapper Fat Joe can best be described as a survivor in the ever-evolving rap industry. Ever since he debuted on the rap scene in the very early 90’s, he’s been able to change with the times and still remain relevant. A couple of years ago when the NYC rap scene was in an obvious decline, the Bronx native moved his base of operations to Miami, a city that was enjoying a popular wave of mainstream attention. He’s also proven to be extremely savvy with the release of his latest singles, wisely opting to feature young rappers/singers of this current era like A$AP Rocky and Chris Brown. Fat Joe’s love for cigars is well recorded. On his 2008 album titled Elephant In the Room, the cover art featured Fat Joe all suited up smoking an expensive cigar. Also on his 2011 single “Another Round,” Joe decided to go with the visual of him dressed in a white suit with an unlit cigar in his mouth. Often times, success depends on how versatile and adaptable one can be. In this aspect, Fat Joe is probably one of the most successful rappers of his generation.
1. Suge Knight
To be fair, Suge Knight is not a rapper, but his husky shadow as a rap executive looms heavily over the Hip-Hop industry. Suge Knight was the founder of Death Row records, and was a major figure in the East Coast/West Coast beef that resulted in the death of two of rap’s biggest stars; The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Even later on, he was involved in the splitting up of female pop group TLC when he supposedly lured Left Eye away from the group with a lucrative solo deal. For the most part, Suge Knight is viewed as a bully and troublemaker in the rap industry, and with his foreboding and imposing presence, we can understand why others might think twice before challenging anything he says. Knight is extremely easy to spot in a crowd. He has a hulking figure, a bald head, a thick beard and more often than not, he’s always holding his signature cigar. You don’t believe us ? “Google image” his name, and see for yourself.