The rapper Tech N9ne (aka Aaron Yates) is not only one of the most creative and talented artists in the music industry, he is also one of the most well-off financially. Tech has a powerful and energetic style of music, presented in a series of albums going back for well over a decade. So, he’s been in the game as long as Jay-Z and any of your other favorite rappers, but he’s made his riches on his own terms, which is part of what makes him unique.
I heard about Tech’s music from Vigalantee (aka Roger Suggs), another popular artist out of the midwest. According to Vigalantee, a lot of mainstream artists are actually afraid of performing with Tech due to the fear of being embarrassed by his lyrical skillset. What really impressed me is that Tech has a very strong following and tours around the world, all because he was able to build a working business model for himself. In that regard, he’s better off than nearly any other artist I can think of.
Tech shocked the world by popping up on the Hip Hop Cash Kings List from Forbes Magazine, which is typically reserved for artists who are getting major corporate backing. Tech was actually ranked #18 on the list ($7.5 million), right ahead of the rapper 50 Cent ($7 million). With each passing year, the 42-year old rapper is finding himself with a bigger bank account and he’s earning every penny.
When he was asked about his position on the list, Tech actually gave the kind of advice that one would expect from an intelligent financial manager, not a corporate buffoon. But then again, when you’re managing your own money, your own shows, and your own brand, you can’t afford the blissful ignorance that comes with being a corporate slave. You actually have to think like a businessman, which is a whole different level of consciousness. Tech said that he doesn’t announce his income to the world, because that usually brings unwanted trouble.
“I wanted to keep it a secret. When people feel like you won the lottery, they call you. Cancel your Facebook and everything,” Tech said to Radio.com. “When you make that much money, I guess they have to report it. Forbes wants to say, ‘Look what this guy did. $7.5 million this year,’ and I was like, ‘Don’t say that’.”
Tech also expressed pride in the fact that he was able to consistently increase his income without the help of a record label and without major media outlets supporting him. In fact, he doesn’t get played on the radio or television in hardly any capacity, since most media outlets have deals with record labels, which give them the incentive to only promote specific artists.
It’s clear that mainstream media doesn’t promote rappers with the most talent, since much of the hip-hop on the radio is starting to sound like a 24-hour robotic infomercial. In fact, I agree with Damon Dash, who claims that the culture has been kidnapped by corporate vultures seeking to turn the power of hip-hop into a force for destruction of young black men, keeping us filling prison cells and caskets, while white guys walk away with all the money.
“I’m proud of it. That was bigger than the year before,” Tech said about his big financial haul this year. “We’re steadily on the incline, and it’s a blessing to be able to do it independent. Our own money, without major radio or video – still on the Forbes list.”
Financial Juneteenth lessons from this story:
1) To succeed in the music industry, you should probably start by studying business. A person who knows marketing, distribution and enterpreneurship can go a lot further than someone who just knows how to sing, dance or rap. The person with no business skill often spends their time feeling like a hooker on the corner, waiting for someone to pick them up and give them an opportunity. But the person who knows business can create opportunities out of thin air. All you have to be able to do is identify a need and produce a product to fill that need. The biggest money in entertainment is made on the back-end, not on the field or stage. That’s also where you get all the power. If you’re interested in taking a class on how to start your own business, you can do so by clicking here.
2) Tech’s best advice from this interview is to keep your income level to yourself. His decision to remain private about his financial situation is in direct contrast to an industry where artists are accustomed to bragging about how much money they have. Bragging about your income level is not only a sign of insecurity, it also brings serious problems to your table. Human beings naturally sniff out those who have the most resources at their disposal. So, by boasting about how much extra money you have, you’re effectively asking everyone you know to come borrow money from you every chance they get. This will increase your financial pressure and also make you look that much sillier when you end up in bankruptcy court.