There’s no better place to see extravagant displays of wealth than a rap video. Whether it’s Post Malone driving Bugattis and Rolls-Royces through the south of France, Gucci Mane and Migos hanging out by the pool or in a multi-million-dollar mansion, or that Run the Jewels video where they’re literally burning money, it sure does seem like rappers got a whole lot of money to blow.
So, it may or may not surprise you to know that there are a bunch of rappers out there that have gone completely broke. And I’m not talking about your no-name Soundcloud rappers, I’m talking about some of the biggest names in hip-hop! These are rap legends that were raking in the millions but ended up blowing it all and going completely bankrupt.
And, hopefully, if you’ve been watching our Ideal Money videos, you know that no matter how much money you make, it can all go away in the blink of an eye if you don’t budget, save, and plan for the future. These are the superstar rappers who went broke. Let’s go.
#1: Nas – The Don’s Downfall
First up on this list we have an artist who’s considered by some to be literally the greatest rapper ever. And even after such a successful career, which is still going, by the way, Nas ended up going totally broke. That’s right, Nas, The Don, the creator of Illmatic, which many hip-hop-heads consider to be one of the greatest rap albums of all time, had a pretty ill-tragic financial downfall back in the 2010s.
It all started when he got married to Kelis in 2005, the singer of the intellectually stimulating masterpiece “Milkshake.” And while her milkshake may have brought all the boys to the yard, it couldn’t bring Nas to pay child support. She needed a lawsuit for that.
Nas was court-ordered to pay $150,000 in child support in 2010 when the couple split up, and things continued to go sour from there. In 2012, Nas was unable to make his $585,000,000 house payments and it got repossessed. And, at pretty much the same time, the state of Georgia claimed that Nas owed over a million in back taxes, and the federal government came after him for a whopping $6 million in back taxes.
Nas has found better financial luck now as his successful career has continued and he paid off all of his debts. But, back then, he was inches from bankruptcy. Side note: check out Nas’s 2021 album King’s Disease II. It’s fire!
The next rapper on this list has a lot in common with the Nas story. She’s from New York, she faced a massive back tax liability, and she got her house foreclosed on. But, unlike Nas, she wasn’t able to avoid bankruptcy.
#2: Lil Kim – Rap Diva Disaster
In 2017, Lil Kim’s net worth was reported to be $18 million. In 2018, she filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy in New Jersey with a debt of about $4 million. She also had her $3-million-dollar mansion foreclosed on just three days after declaring bankruptcy as she apparently owed about $600,000 in mortgage payments. And the 6,000-square-foot mansion was put up for auction later that year.
But, wait, it gets even worse. Lil Kim also owed around $1.8 million in back taxes at the time she declared bankruptcy and she had $186,000 in legal fees. At that time, the beloved “Big Momma Thang” singer had only $2,500 to her name. So, what happened? What caused this absurd reversal of fortune?
Well, there are rumors that she spent hundreds of thousands on plastic surgery and expensive clothes and jewelry. Her most recent album called 9, which was being produced in 2018, was also one of the biggest flops in hip-hop history. And there was probably a good deal of money mismanagement going on as well.
Fortunately for Lil Kim, she eventually asked for the bankruptcy case to be closed, since she no longer needed it, and the judge granted the motion. Still, she had to take out a loan of about $2 million to pay off her debts. That’s going to take a while to pay off. Hopefully, her next album does a little better.
The next rapper on this list is less known by my generation for being a rapper and more well known for a certain television show that involved making absolutely absurd modifications to cars.
#3: Xzibit – Pimp My Pride
You guessed it! I was talking about MTV’s Pimp My Ride, a show that involved stealing old, beaten-down cars from their owners and doing awful, awful things to them. I mean, really, who needs an aquarium in the back of their old Honda Civic? You’re going to spend more on fish food than the car’s even worth.
And another monster that this show created was its host Xzibit, who had a rap career but reached mainstream fame when the show got popular. Apparently, one thing that Xzibit did not foresee was the show eventually got canceled. And, to be honest, I was pretty sad when it got taken off the air. For as awful as those cars were, it was certainly entertaining television.
Anyway, Xzibit was earning about $500,000 a year while hosting Pimp My Ride, but his income plummeted to around $70,000 after the show was canceled. On top of that, he owed about $1 million in, you guessed it, back taxes. Are you noticing a theme here? He was also facing imminent foreclosure on his California home.
The rapper-slash-ride-pimper has tried to file for bankruptcy twice since 2009, but both times he was denied for various reasons. We’re not really sure how Xzibit is doing now, but if anyone sees him working at their local Denny’s, let us know in the comments.
Next up on this list is the famous rapper who made “U Can’t Touch This.” That song, however, apparently did not apply to his creditors when it came to the money he owed them.
#4: MC Hammer – They Touched It
We all know MC Hammer for his pants and for his famous single “U Can’t Touch This.” That song was absolutely huge when it came out and it still gets a ton of play today. So, it’s no surprise that MC Hammer made around $50 million of it and his other music.
Unfortunately, he blew through that $50 million, plus another $14 million that he borrowed, in under five years. And while a lot of the celebrities on this list have obviously gone a little overboard, MC Hammer took it to a new level.
He bought a mansion for $30 million, he bought 17 luxury cars, a private jet, 21 racehorses, and hired an entourage of around 200 people to travel with him and cater to his every whim. But what happened when MC Hammer’s extravagant spending got the best of him and his creditors and the IRS came knocking? Yes, back taxes again…
Well, they threatened to sue those Hammer Pants right off him and he had to declare bankruptcy in 1996. He apparently owed money to the Feds, the state of California, Alameda County, and over 200 different creditors, one of which was former NFL superstar Deion Sanders, who loaned him $500,000. Unfortunately for Hammer, he had to sell his massive mansion for around $25 million less than he paid for it. Poor guy went from rags to riches and right back to rags.
If you’re a fan of hip-hop, you’ve probably heard the song “X Gon’ Give It To Ya.” But I bet you didn’t know he was talking about giving all of his money away. Yeah, I just made another song pun. So what?
#5: DMX – He Gon Give It To Ya
In 1998, DMX became the second rapper since Tupac to have two number-one singles in the same year. But the fame seemed to really have gotten to X as he was charged with felony weapons possession that very same year. The next year, he was arrested over a dozen times for crimes ranging from cocaine possession to reckless driving to criminal impersonation.
Why did DMX think he could get away with impersonating someone even though his face is all over MTV? Who knows? In 2013, DMX filed for bankruptcy, claiming that he only had $50 in cash to his name and not a single dollar in his bank account. Ouch.
I guess that goes to show what happens when you get into drugs and start spending excessively. One of our employees here at Ideal who hails from New Jersey has also informed me that he recently saw DMX get kicked out of a bar in Bayonne. You know times are bad when you’re a hip-hop superstar and you’re still getting kicked out of dive bars.