Tuesday, July 21, 2015


Last week US rapper 50 cent, real name Curtis Jackson, filed for bankruptcy which is an acknowledgement that he cannot fulfil his obligations to his creditors.

He filed for bankruptcy under chapter 11 of the US bankruptcy code, which will allow him time to reorganise his affairs and work out a plan for how he will pay off his debts. My understanding is, under this law his businesses are protected from his creditors for a limited time.

So essentially 50 cent will not be begging on the streets any time soon or even ever, but that he has got into this situation should be an eye opener for all of us.

"As is often the case with people living large but teetering on the edge of financial destruction, it takes one calamity to bring the façade crashing down around their ears. The trigger for 50 cent’s bankruptcy filing was a case he lost recently in which he was ordered to pay $5m. The case involved the releasing of a sex tape on the internet without the permission of the lady in the tape...

Earlier this year 50 cent’s net worth – the difference between his assets and liabilities, was put at $140m.

A clue as how he might have hit dire straits was the revelation that he has assets and debts in the range of up to $50m (sh175b) but most of the debt is consumer debt. Essentially that 50 cents high living has been propped up by borrowing.

There are only two ways to spend money, either you consume it or you invest it. If you invest it well, your money will work for you and will continue to be the gift that keeps giving. If you yours pending is slanted towards consuming, it I s only a matter of time before poverty comes knocking – even for 50 cent.

Of course our relationship to money comes from our background. 50 cent like most top rappers comes from a back ground of poverty, crime and absentee fathers. This background comes with a lot of baggage but also with a warped mentality about money and how to spend it when you get it.

No one should assume the riches come easy to rappers, because those at the top of rap industry work as hard as any world class achievers, however the money can come in very fast once they break through. And then their old context kicks in, with these artists splurging on alcohol, babes and cars, as of to announce to the world that they have arrived. With a lack of expert advice – they tend to surround themselves with other disturbed youth from their old neighbourhood, it is often a matter of time before they are in trouble however inconceivable it may seem when they are the height of their powers.

There used to be a program on TV called MTV Cribs in which a tour of one celebrity or the other’s home was profiled.

They profiled 50 cent’s 52-bedroom mansion which he bought in the 2003 for $4.1m. It was the former home of boxing champion Mike Tyson – another celebrity with a troubled past who squandered his fortune on the fast life. The tour was surreal for one thing the palace seemed unlived in only serving as a lodge for members of the G-Unit, a collection of rappers he promotes. It was big enough though to host his collection of high priced cars which included Ferraris, Bentleys and Mercedes.

This was in sharp contrast to another artist singer-songwriter Moby, a much more modest house, with less than 12 rooms all told, whose interior décor epitomised the say “less is more”. In the living room area, which had no carpets or rags gratuitously flung around he had two chairs facing out the windows that over looked acres of forest.

Moby, whose career has not made as much for him as 50 cent, could afford bigger and grander, but his money is probably packed in investments that will keep his $32m net worth growing.

Two men in the same industry. Two men making sums they would not have dared dream about in their younger years. One is sliding down the slippery slope to poverty while the other is on a steady rise to wealth that will ensure that his family for generations to come will never want for anything.

This is not rocket science. The discipline might not be easy to execute but the formula is simple – slant your expenditure towards investment rather than consumption.


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