A Rapper's Blueprint to Megastardom

With a book and a Western, Common is next in a line of emcees who sought success beyond the mic.

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Although she's thankful to hip-hop, its failure to nurture and support female rappers will always be a sore point, and perhaps offers an explanation for why she moved away from the rap game. "We can't just have one [female] rapper … the industry has gotten [terrible] in that sense by not supporting and making sure that our voices are heard. It just became so male-dominated. To me, hip-hop will never be right until female rappers have a stronger voice in it," she said.

Ice Cube, who can currently be seen shilling for Coors, reportedly is slated to produce and direct a movie about car culture for Disney. Things certainly have changed for an artist who once belonged to a group that proudly declared "f--- tha police."

Surviving nine gunshots gave rapper 50 Cent plenty of street cred. But now Fitty calls the shots after he scored a $100 million windfall for his stake in VitaminWater when the parent company was sold to Coca-Cola in 2007, according to Forbes. His portfolio features a variety of ventures, includes a movie production company, a clothing line and a Reebok sneaker deal. For his next act, 50 Cent is using his latest project, an energy shot called Street King, to help feed the poor.

Few have merged hip-hop and Wall Street with as much savvy as Jay-Z, whose empire includes Roc Nation, the 40/40 Club chain and a stake in the New Jersey/Brooklyn Nets franchise, putting his net worth at $450 million, according to Forbes. Sean "Diddy" Combs may top the list of wealthiest hip-hop artists with a net worth of $475 million, but who has appeared on the cover of Forbes magazine with billionaire businessman Warren Buffett? Who has received multiply invites to the White House? One S. Carter. 

For Jay-Z, success in business is personal. "My brands are an extension of me. They're close to me … My thing is related to who I am as a person," he told Men's Health magazine. And anyone looking to duplicate Jay's success, his version of "keepin' it real" -- staying true to yourself -- offers a blueprint. "All my businesses are part of the culture, so I have to stay true to whatever I'm feeling at the time, whatever direction I'm heading in. And hopefully, everyone follows."

Genetta M. Adams is a contributing editor for The Root.

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