Many of today’s top rap artists are also savvy business managers and entrepreneurs—a few with lucrative tech investments in their portfolios, proving that gritty street smarts also readily translate to the world of business.
The following are 17 of the top artists in the game today that are also successful tech startups entrepreneurs.
Hakeem Seriki—better known as Chamillionare—has raised $1.5 million for startup X Empire, a Twitter-like offering with live streaming built-in. The platform is currently in stealth mode.
Multi-platinum artist Drake isn’t content with just dominating the hip hop game. The rap giant has also invested in Omni, a San Francisco-based on-demand storage app.
Atlanta rap artist Ludacris has not only been honing his budding acting chops—in 2015, he participated in a $10 million Series A round for on-demand package delivery service Roadie.
14. Ryan Leslie
Leslie’s self-coded Superphone is an SMS-based CRM and direct sales tool for celebrities and creators to galvanize and monetize their audiences. The product is marketed under the artist’s startup Disruptive Multimedia .
13. Nicki Minaj
Minaj’s knack for innovation also translates over to the tech world: she recently invested in Music Messenger, an app for users to share links to their favorite songs.
12. 50 Cent
50 cent’s G-Unit record label cum clothing company and beverage startup Vitaminwater investments are well-known, but many are unaware of his headphone accessories brand SMS Audio.
11. Pharrell Williams
Pharrell has lots to be happy about these days: he’s reportedly putting his amassed $80 million fortune to work as an active investor. His Collaborative Fund is a venture capital fund focused on supporting and investing in the shared future.
Nas’ QueensBridge Venture Partners has invested in 119 companies with five portfolio company exits: Luxola, SHIFT, Fitmob, and AlphaDraft. Other notable portfolio items include Dropbox, Lyft, and Casper.
9. Dr. Dre
Dre founded Beats with his partner Jimmy Iovine—years later, they sold it to Apple for $3 billion, making it the Cupertino computer manufacturer’s largest acquisition ever.
8. Jay Z
Jay Z has invested in startups like Julep and JetSmarter, and in 2015 acquired music-streaming service Aspiro—later relaunched as Tidal. The service reportedly has 2.5 million total subscribers currently.
7. Snoop Dogg
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Snoop is an active player in the cannabis tech industry—his Casa Verde Capital is a VC fund focused on early-stage marijuana startups. The rapper has also invested in Reddit, Robinhood, Philz Coffee, DOG for DOG, and Eaze.
Will.i.am has had several successes as a angel investor; unfortunately, he’s perhaps best known for his Puls smart wristbands, a failed contender to the Apple Watch.
5. M.C. Hammer
T.I. invested in a startup called Yopima—short for your opinion matters—in 2013. The app enables users to find trending spots and venues based on crowdsourced recommendations.
3. Kanye West
Kanye West’s creative company Donda is involved in graphic design, film and music projects and has various tech inventions to its credit, including a unique stage design involving multiple screens for immersive audio/video experience.
2. P. Diddy
P. Diddy is perhaps most well-known as the founder/CEO of Bad Boy Entertainment, home of iconic acts like Biggie Smalls. The rapper-turned-fashion designer also invested in video messaging app Tiny App, later acquired by Paltalk.
1. Russell Simmons
The Def Jam and Run DMC co-founder is known for starting street-inspired clothing lines like Phat Farm and Tantris—however, many are unaware of his tech-related investments like Flyp, a service that enables users to use multiple phone lines on one device.
In short, both music and technology are highly-lucrative industries, and these rap moguls are taking their hard-learned lessons from the main stage to the startup stage. Who knows—it’s possible (and quite likely) that your favorite up-and-coming artists have a few tech ambitions up their own sleeves.