In Honor Of 50 Cent’s Bankruptcy, the 10 Thriftiest Rappers In The Game
For most people, listing their monthly expenditures wouldn’t be difficult. 50 Cent isn’t “most people.” To maintain his Connecticut mansion (formerly owned by boxing menace Mike Tyson) the rapper doles out a princely $72,000 per month, which includes $5000 on gardening.
Though 50 Cent’s monthly expenditure of $108,000 doesn’t outstrip his income, a court ordered the rapper to pay a woman $7 million for illegally publishing a private video, in turn causing him to declare bankruptcy. Additionally, he owes $18 million to electronics company Sleek Audio due to a failed headphones partnership. 50 Cent once rapped “I don’t know what you heard about me/But a [chick] can’t get a dollar out of me.” Apparently, that claim wasn’t legally sound.
In honor of 50 Cent’s legal travails, here are some rappers living within their means.
Redman’s 2001 appearance on MTV Cribs was the apex of the series. Rather than a palatial, manicured estate, Redman’s house in the distant reaches of Staten Island was junk-strewn, and the film crew found Redman’s cousin Mr. Cream asleep on the floor next to a couch. (His excuse? “The reason I was on the floor was because the couch—you know how it is when you’re sleeping on a leather couch and it gets all hot? When it’s too hot to sleep on the couch, I just go right to the floor. It’s a cooler situation.”) Instead of fixing his doorbell, Redman left guests to play with two loose wires to alert him of their presence. On top of Redman’s refrigerator was a shoebox full of crumpled dollar bills, appropriately called “The Dollar Box.”
It’s no secret that Ghostface Killah grew up impoverished—”All That I Got Is You” documents, in specific, harrowing detail the rapper’s childhood. As a result, Ghostface appreciates thriftiness; The World According to Pretty Toney includes a section about Ghost’s love of instant ramen. On a long-forgotten MTV2 segment, Ghostface described “The Hustlers Diet.” Depending on one’s level of hustling/impoverishment, the diet could involve anything from a bodega tuna sandwich to three bowls of oatmeal per day.
Big Body Bes
In an interview with First We Feast, Action Bronson’s right hand man and former Albanian Prime Minister, Big Body Bes let the public know some of the secrets to the eating well at a bodega. Like Ghostface, Bes appreciates a tuna sandwich, but he has additional culinary advice: “They have the little macaroni salad. The guy working doesn’t know what he’s doing and he refuses to wear gloves. That’s a risk right there. But don’t get me wrong: That [stuff]’s still fire. I gotta live my life the way I wanna live it. I take risks like that.” Truly a man of wealth and taste.
Action Bronson, whose palette is more developed than Big Body Bes’s, told FADER in 2011 that he was still living in the same Flushing, Queens apartment that he’d spent his entire life in. Though he’s since moved into his own place, in a May 2015 interview with Jonah Hill (!) for Interview, Bronson spoke about his still relatively modest lifestyle. In particular, when asked about his BMW station wagon, Bronson replied “I have nothing—I have children that I take care of, and I have some things set aside for them—but the rest of it, I’m bored. I don’t really buy clothes or [things] like that. [People] will spend ten grand on a pair of tight jeans. I can’t do that. I’d rather buy a Beemer for four, put six grand into it, and it’s like a brand new car; [people] loving it.”
Lil B’s breakthrough came as a teenaged member of The Pack, whose “Vans” was a paean to the shoe company’s inexpensive footwear. As the Oakland rapper’s Internet-bred fame grew, Lil B claimed that he wouldn’t stop wearing the same pair of white Vans until he made his first million dollars. It’s unclear if he still wears the ripped, near-grey Vans. In 2013, Danny Chau of Grantland described Lil B’s shoes as being “like shoes you’d find on a rescue mission airboating through the Everglades.”
“I Ain’t Tha 1,” essentially an Ice Cube song, is about the rapper’s cost-efficiency when dating. He will not pay to have a woman’s nails or hair done, and he won’t bring flowers to their doorstep. Dinner plans? “You want lobster huh? I’m thinking Burger King.”
There’s self-effacement, and there’s victimhood, and Skee-Lo’s “I Wish” toes the line between the two. On “I Wish,” Skee-Lo doesn’t get picked for basketball, gets hit with a bottle, and can’t pick up women in his hatchback. Frugality is an 8-track player in a laughable hatchback.
I wish, I had a brand-new car
So far, I got this hatchback
And everywhere I go, yo I gets laughed at
And when I’m in my car, I’m laid back
I got an 8-track and a spare tire in the backseat
But that’s flat
On “Thrift Shop,” rather than rapping about his acute fashion sensibilities, Macklemore brags about a coat surely left behind by a grandmother leaving the Pacific Northwest for the warmer climes of ”God’s Waiting Room,” Florida. In an interview with MTV, Macklemore said “Rappers talk about, ‘Oh, I buy this and I buy that,’ and ‘I spend this much money and I make it rain,’…[but] this is the kind of record that’s the exact opposite… It’s kind of standing for, like, ‘let’s save some money, let’s keep some money away, let’s spend as little as possible and look as fresh as possible at the same time.’ “Thrift Shop” is, thankfully, the only rap song about thrift shopping.
Malice, aka No Malice
When Malice of The Clipse found (or began searching for) God, he made a series of videos about social issues he ignored, or glazed over, when partnered with brother Pusha T. In one video, re-uploaded by a third party and renamed “Malice (The Clipse) Reveals The Truth,” the Virginia rapper says that “When I get in the booth, I can drive as many Bentleys as I want, I can hop on G5’s, or drop as many tops as I want.” When Malice leads the camera into his driveway, he points at BMW SUV and says “See that? That ain’t no Bentley. That ain’t even got rims on it.” And later “I love hip-hop–I understand the dream and the big chain, and I understand what it’s about–but you gotta learn to separate the real from the fake.”
In 2013, Forbes reported that Lamar’s net worth was $9 million. In 2014, Lamar used his spending power to buy a house. A really normal house. For $523,000. In Eastvale, a very boring Los Angeles suburb. His 3500 sq. ft. house could fit inside 50 Cent’s house roughly 14 times. It’s unclear if Lamar actually lives in the house, if it was purchased for his parents, or if it’s being used as a rental.