For some artists, owning their masters and having control of their catalog is the ultimate goal. However, in the case of several rappers and producers, there seems to be a growing trend of doing the opposite. Rappers are now cashing out and selling their catalogs.
Here are five hip-hop talents who have sold portions of their catalogs in multi-million dollar deals.
- Lil Wayne – World-renowned rapper Lil Wayne was one of the early artists to garner media attention with the sale of his catalog. The move came in December of 2020 and earned him a reported gain of over $100 million. The rapper sold all of his music, plus Drake, Nicki Minaj, and Tyga’s catalogs under Young Money to Universal Music Group. The deal shocked many fans, as the deal included the hits of his fellow Young Money artists, but it seems to have kicked off the trend for other rappers to follow behind him.
- Dr. Dre – West Coast rap veteran Dr. Dre made waves when it was learned that he sold a share of his royalties from N.W.A., a share of his producer royalties, and two of his solo albums. Variety confirmed that Dr. Dre sold his catalog and artist royalties to Shamrock Holdings for “well above $200 million” in January 2023. The acquisition also extended to his share of music released under the Aftermath/Interscope joint venture with Top Dawg Entertainment, including Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN and To Pimp a Butterfly. Dr. Dre was first known as a member of the rap group N.W.A. before transitioning into a career as a solo artist and producer. He later revolutionized the headphone industry with the introduction of Beats by Dre in 2006.
- Metro Boomin – Popular hitmaker, Metro Boomin, followed behind Dr. Dre and sold a portion of his existing publishing catalog to Shamrock. While Metro Boomin may not have the same legendary status as the West Coast vet, his catalog is still impressive. His work includes “Bad and Boujee” by Migos, “Mask Off” by Future, “Congratulations” by Post Malone, “Child’s Play” by Drake and many others. The deal with Shamrock – which was brokered earlier this year – reportedly helped to increase the producer’s income by nearly $70 million, according to Billboard.
- Nelly – The “Country Grammar” rapper recently made headlines when it was announced on July 5 that he was selling a 50% stake in his catalog. Nelly agreed to sell a portion of his catalog, which includes hits such as “Ride Wit Me,” “Dilemma” and “Hot in Herre,” for $50 million. The new owners of the 50% stake in the catalog are HarbourView Equity Partners.
- Wiz Khalifa – HarbourView Equity Partners struck again by making a deal with popular rapper Wiz Khalifa for an undisclosed amount. The deal was first announced on July 6 and includes tracks such as “Black and Yellow,” “See You Again” and “The Thrill.” The Pittsburgh native and CEO of HarbourView Equity Partners both expressed excitement for the new partnership. Wiz Khalifa burst on the music scene with his 2006 debut album, Show and Prove, and has continued to be a top talent in the industry.