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When Jordan Michael Houston was a child, his father always told him to save his money for a rainy day.
“I’ve been like that all my life,” Houston, commonly known as Juicy J, told Business Insider. “Because rap music isn’t going to last forever. And I’ve been blessed to be in the business for over 20 years, but who’s to say that’s going to last?”
The Grammy-nominated rapper got his start as a member of the rap group Three 6 Mafia, which won an Academy Award for Best Original Song for “It’s Hard out Here for a Pimp,” written for the movie “Hustle & Flow.” But remembering his father’s advice, he said “one day you’re hot, next day, you’re not. So every time I made any money in music, I would always invest it.”
Juicy J started out investing in real estate. The first house he bought was in his hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. He said he purchased it for $80,000 cash, then sold it for $175,000, making a $95,000 profit. From there, he began to buy more homes, and soon, he started to buy land.
“I found a bunch of foreclosed homes and foreclosed lands,” he said. “I bought eight acres of land and I just built a house on one of them.”
After homes, Juicy J invested in other types of assets, first in music publishing, and then in two water companies, a clothing company, tech apps, and video games, among other things. “We can go for days,” he said. “I got all kinds of stuff that I put money into.” Now his investments include investing app Robinhood and Epic Games, maker of Fortnite.
The internet has helped increase access to financial literacy
Financial literary has risen tremendously in rap music, Juicy J said.
He recalled how many rappers in the ’90s “weren’t educated” on what to properly do with their money or how to expand their financial empires. Luckily, he says, the rise of the internet has increased access to information and opportunities for self-education on finances and the economy.
“Now you can go on Google Investments and find something cool that wouldn’t cost you a lot of money,” he said. “When the markets crashed, I threw some money in some Apple and Netflix stocks and I swear that money flipped in a month.”
Juicy J counts rappers and moguls Jay-Z and Diddy as his business inspirations, along with Damon Dash, the founder of the media collective DD172 and the cofounder of Roc-A-Fella records, alongside entrepreneur Kareem Burke and Jay-Z.
It’s easy to see why Juicy J would look up to such heavyweights: Jay-Z is regarded as being the first billionaire in hip hop, with investments in art, real estate, and liquor helping to boost his fortune. He is also the owner of the music streaming service Tidal.
Diddy, Juicy J’s other inspiration, has a net worth of around $740 million, according to Forbes. He is the founder of Bad Boy Entertainment and of the cable network Revolt TV. He also has a sizeable investment in the Vodka brand Ciroc.
Juicy J also has hopes to build an empire — and his latest investment venture is the cannabis brand Asterisk*
Juicy J’s journey with Asterisk* began when the brand’s founders approached him about investing in their newly formed cannabis company. The rapper agreed immediately and signed on to be the face of the company, securing a deal that gives him not just a percentage of the company but also a percentage of future profits.
“I smoked so much, I said, ‘I might as well start to sell it.’ You know, ‘Why not make my own strain?'” he said.
He told Business Insider that he is well aware of how important it is for a Black public figure like himself to become the face of something that has disproportionately landed Black Americans in jail.
According to the ACLU, despite the fact that Blacks and whites use marijuana at the same rate, Black people are almost four times as likely to be arrested than whites are for possession of marijuana — a fact that rings true in every single state in the US.
“They should release everybody, because sooner or later, weed’s going to be legal everywhere,” Juicy J said of everyone currently in prison on a marijuana-related charge. “It’s not that big of a deal anymore. They should free everybody.”
Juicy J gives advice for those looking to invest: ‘Save your money, pay your taxes, and find smart investments’
Another of Juicy J’s top investments is in the financial service company Robinhood, an app that lets anyone invest in the stock market from the comfort of their own home. Juicy J said one of his friends told him about the app, and he loved the idea of helping to increase financial literacy for the next generation, just as the internet helped do for him.
“I had honestly never heard of Robinhood,” he said. “Somebody also brought Epic Games to my attention, which has Fortnite, and so I put my money in that, too. Somebody brought CORE Water to my attention and I was like, yes, this is something different. Something new.”
Taking investment advice from others has allowed for Juicy J to stay on pace with what’s new with the upcoming generation, and it also gives him ideas on how to expand his own brand. For example, Fortnite just had a concert with Travis Scott, something Juicy J called “genius.”
“All those kids are playing the game and they can come in and watch a Travis Scott show,” he said. “Or a Juicy J show.”
However, Juicy J’s investment journey hasn’t been all high points. He noted that he used to invest in CDs, or certificates of deposit, back when those were a “thing.” CDs, which typically pay a fixed interest rate for a specific term, have seen those interest rates decline during the current recession, or as Juicy J says, “you really don’t see a bunch of money up in those CDs like that.”
He also said he’s invested in money market accounts, and still has a few. “I kept a lot of those money market accounts I’m having for like overnight 15, 20 years. But you know, I’ve always tried to put money in different places and different things.”
For the most part, he said, setbacks are part of the investment journey, and the main advice he has for those looking to invest is: “Save your money, pay your taxes, and find smart investments.”
“A lot of people invest in stupid things, so educate yourself before you start to invest. Think about it, talk to some people, get somebody that knows about certain things and have them look over paperwork for you,” he said.
For financial planning, Juicy J said he sticks to a budget, allocating a certain amount of money each year for how much he is willing to spend. This is important, he says, because investing too much money can be risky, especially if something happens and you end up, say, losing all of your life savings.
“You don’t want to do that,” he said.
But of course, music still holds a special place in Juicy J’s heart
Juicy J still stays close to his musical roots. He is set to release his first independent album in over 10 years this fall, featuring heavyweights such as A$AP Rocky and rapper Megan Thee Stallion (last summer, he co-produced Megan’s breakout hit “Hot Girl Summer”).
He just released a music video to his latest single “GAH DAMN HIGH,” which is set to be on the album. And he also said he also has some film projects in the works.
“I’ve been wanting to do this all my life,” he said. “I’m working with these artists and I call all the shots and nobody is standing over my shoulder and telling me what to do. I can drop a song tomorrow if I want. Today if I want. That’s a real good thing for an artist to have — freedom.”
Jeremy Berke contributed to reporting.