Rap tours — like many other tours — all but came to a standstill during the COVID-19 pandemic.
A report by the Chicago Tribune revealed that the concert industry — long considered a prime income stream for musicians both independent and mainstream — took a $30 billion hit thanks to the coronavirus.
“Pollstar on Friday said the live events industry should have hit a record-setting $12.2 billion this year, but instead it incurred $9.7 billion in losses,” reports the outlet. “Pollstar said the projected $30 billion figure in losses includes ‘unreported events, ancillary revenues, including sponsorships, ticketing, concessions, merch, transportation, restaurants, hotels, and other economic activity tied to the live events.'”
Yet, despite this obvious financial hit, the business of Hip-Hop is still big business. In its early days, rap tours were renegade in their nature — take what you can, hope for the best, and get the money any way you knew how (And it’s to be commended for thriving even when it was a “niche” market). But today’s Hip-Hop tours are money-making machines for all involved, which is why 360 deals are becoming more and more common for new label signees.
Let’s take a look at the top 10 highest-grossing rap tours of all time. Some of the answers may surprise you.
Jay-Z and Beyoncé — On The Run II
Total Gross: $253.5 million
Although she isn’t a Hip-Hop superstar, Beyoncé makes the list because of her Hip-Hop billionaire husband.
Billboard reports that the Knowles-Carter duo knows how to make that money. With more than $250 million in the bank after their “On The Run II” tour, all they can do is add to their billionaire status.
P.S. — even if it wasn’t for the “On The Run II” tour, she’d be on the list of Black artists’ highest-grossing tours.
Drake — Various
Aubrey & The Three Migos Total Gross: $79M (per Forbes)
Summer Sixteen Total Gross: $84.3M (per OkayPlayer)
Club Paradise Total Gross: $40M (per HipHopDX)
With a total net worth of $200 million and a variety of investments that rival some of Wall Street’s most aggressive businessmen, Drake doesn’t need to go on tour to pay his bills. But when he does go on tour, he makes bank. At one point, the Summer Sixteen tour was the top-earning rap tour of all time before Jay-Z and Beyoncé knocked him out of the top spot.
Kanye West — Various
Watch the Throne Total Gross: $75.6M (per The Fader)
Saint Pablo Total Gross: $52.8M (per Pollstar)
Yeezus Total Gross: $31.8M (per Pollstar)
Glow in the Dark Total Gross: $30.8M (per Billboard)
Say what you want about Kanye West, but this is a man who knows how to make money. His genius and creativity most definitely contributed to him becoming a billionaire.
Jay-Z — Various
Legends of the Summer Total Gross: $68.8M (per Fortune)
Magna Carter Total Gross: $31.2M (per CapitalXtra)
Whether he goes on tour with Beyoncé, Kanye West, or by himself, Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter is a money-making legend all by himself.
Travis Scott — Astroworld
Astroworld Total Gross: $53.5M (per Forbes)
In 2019, “Astroworld” is was the top-grossing tour, putting more than $53 million in Travis Scott’s pocket.
Lil Wayne — I Am Still Music
I Am Still Music Total Gross: $47M (per MTV)
With a net worth of $170 million, Lil Wayne is another rapper that doesn’t need to go on tour if he doesn’t want to. But his touring record proves that he is, indeed, “still music.”
Kendrick Lamar — Damn
Damn Total Gross: $40.7M (per Billboard)
Interest in the “To Pimp A Butterfly” rapper has skyrocketed thanks to the Super Bowl halftime show, but Kendrick Lamar has always been about his business.