Countdown Top 9 Hip Hop Entrepreneurs of 2012: #4 Kanye West

The purpose of this blog is to inform the class of America’s “Top 9 Hip Hop Entrepreneurs of 2012” and the various business ventures in different industries that contributed to their individual successes.

Countdown Top 9 Hip Hop Entrepreneurs of 2012: #4 Kanye West

Name: Kanye Omari West

Stage Name(s): Kanye West

Age: 35

Forbes Hip Hop’s Top Earners List: #4 of 9

How Much??? $35 Million

As promised, we finally have an artist not affiliated with Cash Money Records (no offense).

Born in Atlanta but raised in Chicago, Kanye is an art college drop-out who teamed up with Jay-Z and Roc-A-Fella Records and eventually sold over 30 million digital songs in his career.  He is one of the most decorated artists (award-wise) of all time, and wherever he goes, people listen. But when he’s not stealing the microphone (get it?), he’s constantly looking for new business ventures to start.

Here are some of his past/present/future business ventures:

1. He created G.O.O.D. (Getting Out Our Dreams) Music record label in 2004. Couple artists under the label are: John Legend, Big Sean, Kid Cudi, Mos Def, Pusha T and Q-Tip.

2. Kanye plans to set up 10 Fat Burgers restaurant chains in the Chicago area under his holding company, KW Foods LLC, in 2008. So far, only two have been opened. (Here in the link:

3. In 2011, West partnered up with Parlux Fragrances to create his own cologne which will be in stores this year. (Here is the link:

4. Started a design company called DONDA (named after his deceased mother) that “will galvanize amazing thinkers and put them in a creative space to bounce there dreams and ideas… I am assembling a team of architects, graphic designers, directors musicians, producers, AnRs, writers, publicist, social media experts… app guys, managers, car designers, clothing designers, DJs, video game designers, publishers, tech guys, lawyers, bankers, nutritionist.” (Kanye on his Twitter account, Jan. 5, 2012). To learn more, here is the link of an article that explains his company more in detail:

5. The Fashion Industry: In 2009, Kanye introduced his first shoe line designed for Louis Vuitton at Paris Fashion Week. In 2011, he premiered his first women’s clothing line called DW at Paris Fashion Week with his Spring/Summer 2012 Collection. Then, about seven months later, he presented his Fall Collection 2012 at the same event. But after months of studying/interning in Japan and Italy (worked at Fendi, had a contract with Louis Vuittion, and turned down Versace offer), and even after creating a small design studio is Paris, Kanye was still heavily criticized and gained little respect for his works. He decided not to attend the most recent Fashion Paris Week. For now, his fashion endeavors are on hold. (Here is the link to Kanye’s late night twitter ramblings about the whole experience: Here is the link to some of the criticisms he received for his work:

(What do you guys think?)

Although some ventures were considered expenses rather than investments, Kanye was still able to rack up $35 million (mostly thanks to his music) this year – making him the 4th most successful and influential hip hop entrepreneur of 2012.

(In a couple days, I will post up #3! So please stay tuned! Let’s count down to #1 together!)

By: Aaron Kim (Duke)

Other sources:

*Sources are provided within the post.