Sean “Diddy” Combs Becomes Hip-Hop’s First Billionaire in 2017

I had an unusual hobby as a teenager, one of my favorite pastimes was reading Forbes magazine, namely the coveted Forbes Billionaire issue, presenting the world’s wealthiest people. Just reading the names and sources of wealth gave me motivation, but I was often left without inspiration. Why? I yearned to see someone who looked like me — someone who was black. I didn’t quite believe I could aspire to the upper heights of wealth without first seeing someone who looked like me do it. Nevertheless, year after year I gobbled up every bit of information from each issue and when media magnate Bob Johnson made the list in 2001, as the first African American Billionaire, I was incredibly proud.


In the 15 years since Johnson’s pioneering add, only three other African Americans have joined the exclusive billionaire club. However, in 2017 I believe we’ll see not only the fourth African American to join, but we’ll all witness the first billionaire Bad Boy.

Sean “Diddy” Combs is unquestionably a consummate entrepreneur. I predict his portfolio of Bad Boy Records, Revolt TV, Wine & Spirits, Sean John, AQUAhydrate, and more, currently valued at $750 Million, will see an overall increase in valuation strong enough to push him over the billion dollar mark. However, Diddy becoming a billionaire should not be taken lightly. It’s significance carries major impact, especially in 3 categories:

He’ll Be An Economic Pioneer

Combs will become only the 4th African American to ever make the exclusive billionaire club, instantly making him a black economic pioneer. “They’ll be what they see” is a powerful mantra of the 100 Black Men organization and for many of the world’s black people, Mr. Combs’ triumph becomes another beacon of hope towards our financial empowerment. Despite making great strides over the last several decades, we still lag behind in every economic category, including broad disparities in unemployment and poverty rates. Namely because of Sean Combs’ global and multigenerational influence, he is poised to become an inspirational symbol of economic power.

He’ll Legitimize The Economic Power Of Hip-Hop

Diddy becoming a billionaire also helps to legitimize the economic power of hip-hop, still considered a new (and for some) a weakening genre of music. Among all genres of music, hip-hop, founded in just 1973, is still relatively young compared to other popular categories such as rock, pop, and soul. Yet, out of all genres of music, only rock has created a billionaire, with Sir Paul McCartney. The only other musically associated billionaire is theatrical composer, Andrew Lloyd Webber. Sean Combs becoming a billionaire will make him only the 3rd musical artist in history to do so. Not bad coming from a newbie music genre. Further supporting hip-hop’s overall economic power, behind Combs is a long list of rappers and rap producers with substantial wealth. I predict hip-hop artist Jay Z and hip-hop super producer Dr. Dre, with a net worth of $610 million and $700 million respectively, to join the billionaire club in the near future.

He’ll Break The Rules Of Massive Wealth Creation

Lastly, Diddy’s diverse portfolio of assets suggests the path to billionaire status doesn’t require the traditional strategy of having only one major source of investment. Of the 1,810 world billionaires, Forbes lists more than 98% deriving the majority of their wealth from a single source (think Bill Gates with Microsoft, Reid Hoffman with LinkedIn, Jeff Bezos with Amazon, etc). Sean Combs is the exception to the traditional billionaire “wealth source” rule. His diversified portfolio of music, spirits, clothing, media, & startup investments equally contribute to his wealth. Sean “Diddy” Combs proves that Bad Boys who break the rules don’t have to finish last.

This article is part of the LinkedIn Top Voices list, a collection of the must-read writers of the year. Check out more #BigIdeas2017 here.



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