With 50 Cent’s recent filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, we explore 7 other hip-hop stars who have been forced to face their financial troubles in a similar manner.
As we’ve already reported, 50 Cent’s filing for Chapter 11 protection in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Hartford, Connecticut has a lot more to do with his obligation to pay $5 million USD worth of damages to Lastonia Leviston for a privacy violation, than it is a signal of supreme financial distress for the rapper.
Most people equate the word “bankrupt,” with the notion of “running out of money.” For 50 Cent, that is not the case. But for a number of other hip-hop artists who have sold millions of records – and in turn spent millions of dollars on lavish homes, cars and drugs – bankruptcy did in fact mean that their finances were in the red.
Here are seven notable instances.
Young Buck rose to prominence alongside 50 Cent as part of G-Unit. Their debut album as a group, Beg for Mercy, sold 6 million copies worldwide in 2003. His debut solo album, Straight Outta Cashville, was released in 2004 and was certified Platinum by the RIAA.
On August 3, 2010, the IRS raided Young Buck’s Tennessee home – claiming that he owed $300,000 in unpaid taxes. While he was allowed to keep his home and his car, many of the items inside were seized and scheduled to be auctioned off.
“The worst part of this isn’t the material stuff — that will all be replaced,” Buck said in a statement. “It’s what it does to the people around me. They took my kids’ PlayStation, my assistants’ computers, and baby’s mothers’ jewelry. They took my home studio so I can’t even record. Nothing like this will ever happen again. This is a huge wake-up call for all entertainers to stay on top of your own trusted employees and team members, and replace anyone that was put in place by your record label if the situation you have goes sour. This IRS situation came about because I trusted accountants, lawyers and managers to handle my business for me while I focused on making music. From now on, I am going to stay on top of my own business.”
In 2010, Buck was forced into Chapter 13 bankruptcy which allowed for a potential deal where he would have five years to repay his creditors under a court-approved payment plan. “Now I have a clean slate and full control over my own life and career,” he told TMZ.
According to The Wall Street Journal, “In exchange for getting the property back, Brown (Buck) is proposing to surrender real estate valued at $638,500 (with equity of $120,000). Not only will that lower his living expenses, allowing the rapper to propose a plan to pay his creditors 100% of what they’re owed, but it will also allow the IRS to sell the property and pocket the $120,000 in sale proceeds.”
As both a rapper and a TV personality, Xzibit seemed to dominate the MTV landscape in the early 2000s when teenagers scurried home from school to see who had charted on TRL, as well as watch the latest automobile monstrosity that had been transformed on Pimp My Ride.
By 2009, Xzibit had filed for bankruptcy twice – although both were dismissed. But his finances were clearly in ruin – with $739,433 USD in assets and $1.4 million USD in debts. According to Jalopnik, it was in fact the cancellation of Pimp My Ride that led to his financial difficulties. While the show was airing, he earned $497,175 USD for headlining. In the year after it had been cancelled, he earned only $67,510 USD – a whopping 85% decrease in revenue.
As of 2011, court records showed that Xzibit still owed $959,523 USD in back taxes.
As the head honcho in charge of Death Row Records, Marion “Suge” Knight had forged an empire off the success of Dr. Dre, The D.O.C., Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg – as well as a lucrative distribution deal with Interscope Records and Time Warner. At the height of the label’s success, Knight pulled in more than $100 million USD annually.
In 2005, a jury awarded a $107 million USD settlement to Michael “Harry-O” Harris and his wife Lynda. Although Harris was incarcerated, the jury felt that the Harris’ were entitled to a share of Death Row’s riches because Michael “Harry-O” Harris had ponied up $1.5 million USD when Death Row was just forming.
At that same time, Knight was listing debts in a bankruptcy petition that included $11.5 million in back taxes owed. According to The Daily Beast, “He sold his mansion in Malibu and fell so far behind on his bill at a storage facility that his things were sold at an auction featured in the reality TV show Storage Wars. The 30-minute sale brought in only $4,500.”
As it has been widely reported, Suge Knight now faces murder charges for his role in a fatal altercation surrounding production of the upcoming N.W.A biopic, Straight Outta Compton. According to reports, Knight still owed $120 million USD at the time of the incident. His finances were in such ruin that an investigator said that he was so broke he could not afford to replace teeth that were knocked out in a brawl.
Much of Wyclef Jean’s success stemmed from his work with The Fugees in the late ’90s – buoyed by their album The Score which earned them three Grammy wins and was certified six-times Platinum. Needless to say, Jean hit it big at a time when people bought physical copies of albums and music piracy was not yet an issue.
Fifteen years later, his accountant proclaimed to Jean’s creditors, “There ain’t no money.” Following his string of success, Jean found himself in deep financial trouble due to $2.9 million USD he owed in back taxes. Additionally, the Fugees star couldn’t even afford to pay for his legal services. According to The New York Post, “Attorney Dorothy Weber asked a judge to let her off a copyright case after Jean’s business manager said the singer can’t pay for current or future services, according to a Manhattan federal-court filing. A judge denied Weber’s request.”
Scott Storch went from a member of The Roots, to multi-platinum producer responsible for hits like Dr. Dre’s “Still D.R.E.,” Fat Joe’s “Lean Back” and more. Between 2001 and 2005, he wrote and produced nearly a dozen Billboard Hot 100 top 10s.
By 2006, Storch had amassed a fortune of more than $70 million – reportedly earning $17 million USD that year alone. Luxuries included a $10 million USD Greco-Roman mansion on Miami Beach’s Palm Island, a 117-foot yacht called “The Tiffany,” and a fleet of cars which included a 2007 Bugatti Veyron, 2005 Ferrari Superamerica, 2006 Rolls-Royce Phantom Convertible, Ferrari 612 Scaglietti, Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren, and many other exotic imports like Aston Martins and Lamborghinis.
According to Billboard, “Storch found his taste for cocaine at a 2005 party in Los Angeles, when a friend pulled him into a bathroom and offered him a line. By 2006, his addiction was full-blown. ‘I did coke constantly and provided it for everyone else,’ he says — although he dismisses reports that he spent $30 million on blow. ‘You couldn’t snort that much if you tried.'”
“We’d be at the club [in Miami] and I’d decide to take everyone to Las Vegas [on my private jet],” he told Details magazine. “Do more coke, f—k a bunch of girls. Be up for two days and decide at 11 in the morning to go buy a Rolls-Royce.”
In June 2015, Storch filed for bankruptcy in a Miami district court. According to case documents, he declared his assets to total $3,600 USD — including a $3,000 watch, $500 worth of clothes, and $100 cash. With only $10,000 USD earned in 2014, Storch still owes nearly $4.4 million USD to creditors.
According to Forbes, Hammer pulled in $33 million USD after his Diamond-selling album Please Hammer, Don’t Hurt ‘Em was released. He also employed a 200-person entourage that reportedly cost the “U Cant Touch This” rapper $500,000 USD a month.
In 1991 – with plenty of cash to spend – he used $20 million USD to build a 40,000-sq-ft house in the hills of Fremont, California that had Italian marble floors, a bowling alley, recording studio, 33-seat theater, two swimming pools, tennis courts, a baseball diamond, and a 17-car garage.
By 1996, Hammer would file for bankruptcy with debts of nearly $14 million USD and assets of $9.6 million USD. While one could point to a tapering off of his hip-hop career, he also spent quite recklessly – running a horse at the Kentucky Derby, owning a 17-car collection, and a Boeing 727 airplane. He sold his home a year later for $5.3 million USD to a television producer from Singapore who paid cash.
In 1998, DMX joined Tupac Shakur as the second rapper in hip-hop history to have two number one albums in the same year. May’s It’s Dark and Hell is Hot debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 chart in the U.S. and sold over 5 million copies. In December, Flesh of My Flesh, Blood of My Blood debuted at number one on the Billboard 200 – where it remained for three consecutive weeks – before eventually going four-times Platinum.
Later that same year, DMX had his first publicized run in with the law for a weapons possession violation. In subsequent year, The Daily Beast estimated that he has been arrested more than a dozen times for everything from felony drugs charges, to cocaine possession, criminal impersonation, and reckless driving and parole violations.
In his 2013 bankruptcy filings, DMX claimed to only have $50 cash on hand. According to The Wall Street Journal, “Not only does he report, under penalty of perjury, that he has zero dollars in the bank, but he also denies having any personal property of value—no electronic equipment, no jewelry, no clothes and no cars.”
While the court filings list $1.4 million USD in personal property, DMX insisted that all the assets in his name were tied to pending litigation and other claims.