Most successful musicians are given a lot of grief for making it big and getting paid absurd amounts of money for doing it. The insane difference in salary between entertainers and most teachers/police officers/or whatever else you might think of is a continuous discussion. But if you take a closer look, a lot of the more successful rappers and singers don’t just reap the rewards of album sales and tours, but from investing in a business that gives back to the community.
The idea of this blog post came after a plea I posted on Facebook, asking for topics. A friend commented that he heard Lil Wayne had recently purchased the Skate Park of Tampa, right over the bridge from where I live. First off, I was excited because I’m a Weezy fan to the core. Second, I internally, subconsciously blew off this information and didn’t even bother to look it up. Not because I thought it was useless, but because as a true fan I understand that Lil Wayne is not a great skateboarder and so any major move by him in that direction is going to be something of a laughing stock. Anyway, so it turned out that little tidbit was an April Fool’s joke. (Haha?). But it made me think about all the other artists who have a stake in a business or company, or even own one.
By business or company, I mean a tangible piece of property with an address. Legit real estate. I’m not including fashion lines, lingerie lines, shoes, perfume or beauty products. I realize these are all worthy investments and those successful in the fields have helped create billion-dollar industries, but one, they’re all over the place, everyone and their grandma owns one, and second, I’m a bigger fan of sports and food than I am of fashion and beauty.
So, here’s a list of 18 musician-celebrities and the business(es) they own:
- 50 cent – His Formula 50 brand of Vitamin Water he created with Glaceau was recently bought out by Coca Cola. He also co-founded a film company in 2009 called Cheetah Vision.
- Alice Cooper – The rock star owns a sports bar in Phoenix, AZ called Alice Cooperstown, which opened in 1998.
- Bono – The Irish singer owns a hotel in, where else but his birthplace, Dublin. The Clarence Hotel was transformed from a two-star, 70-bedroom to a five-star, 49-bedroom hotel by Bono and his U2 bandmate, The Edge.
- Dave Matthews – The DMB front-runner purchased Blenheim Vineyards, an historic Virginian farm that dates back to the 1700s and housed historic figures like Thomas Jefferson, in 1999.
- Fergie – In October 2009, the lead singer of Black-Eyed Peas became a part owner of the Miami Dolphins.
- Gavin DeGraw – The singer opened a restaurant in 2007 with his brother on Manhattan’s Lower East Side called The National Underground.
- Gladys Knight – Technically owned by her son, the self-explained restaurant called Gladys Knight & Ron Winans’ Chicken & Waffles currently has three locations in the Atlanta area.
- Jay-Z – The new father is co-owner of an upscale sports bar in New York, Chicago and Atlantic City called the 40/40 Club. He is also part owner of the New Jersey Nets, soon to be called the Brooklyn Nets.
- Justin Timberlake – The former-N SYNC member doesn’t stop. He’s opened three restaurants: Chi in West Hollywood and Destino and Southern Hospitalty in New York. He also has his own brand of tequila called 901 and reopened and renamed a golf course in Tennessee, Mirimichi Golf Course.
- Kanye West – His company, KW Foods LLC, bought the rights to the Fatburger chain in Chicago. (Pharell and E-40 have also owned franchises of the restaurant).
- Lenny Kravitz – The rock star and recent Hunger Games actor founded Kravitz Design Inc., a company focused on interior and furniture design (designed a chandelier for Swarovski called “Casino Royale”).
- Ludacris – The southern rapper is co-owner of Conjure Cognac liquor and Soul headphones.
- Marilyn Manson – He developed Mansinthe, an Absinthe label that boasts 66.6% alcohol in a standard bottle.
- Olivia Newton-John – The Grease star co-founded Koala Blue Wines and established the Gaia Retreat & Spa, both located in Australia.
- P. Diddy – The seasoned rapper opened an upscale restaurant chain called Justin’s in Atlanta, named after his son. Diddy also signed a multi-year deal with Ciroc to help develop the brand by doing more than just endorsing.
- Pete Wentz – In 2007, the Fall Out Boy bassist and ex-husband of Ashlee Simpson opened a nightclub in New York, Angels & Kings. The business is also owned by Jamison Ernest of Yellow Fever and members of the bands Gym Class Heroes, The Academy Is… and Cobra Starship.
- Toby Keith – Of course this country singer’s Oklahoma restaurant is called I Love This Bar & Grill, fittingly named after his 2003 hit single “I Love This Bar.”
- Usher – At 26, the R&B singer became part-owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers. Seven years later, it’s still true.
After discovering and researching some of these little facts, I have to wonder a few things. First, does it matter whether someone owns, co-owns or has a share in a company? Does co-owning something make it less of an accomplishment? And second, are these businesses and companies good? Are they necessary? Do people go to them and use the services provided out of necessity or are they just a tourist stop? What difference does it really make that a celebrity is part of the decision-making process of a business?