With a net worth of an estimated $45 million, André 3000 (or André Lauren Benjamin, if we’re going to go by his birth certificate) is one of music’s wealthiest stars. The musician, rapper, record producer, entrepreneur, actor and dancer (yep, he’s one talented guy) has been active in the industry for over 25 years- which may, in part, explain his pretty sizable pot of gold. But it takes more than longevity to make a fortune that big – so how exactly did he do it? Let’s take a closer look.
The Early Years with Outkast
André’s success can be traced all the way back to high school, which is where he met Antwan “Big Boi” Patton. Sensing a kinship, Patton and André partnered up to form Outkast; after graduating, the pair were signed up to LaFace, releasing their debut album, Southernplayalisticadillacmuzik, in 1994. The album was a massive hit, earning the band the title of Best New Rap Group of the Year at the 1995 Source Awards and André his first step towards becoming a millionaire. The band’s subsequent albums fared even better, achieving both critical and commercial success. Their 2000 single, Ms. Jackson, scored the duo a #1 spot on the Billboard 100 and did great things for their crossover appeal – their follow up efforts, Hey Ya! and Roses, meanwhile, cemented their status as one of the nation’s most popular acts. The money by this stage was rolling in, but not so much that André didn’t feel the need to make a little extra…
Making it as a Solo Artist
How to make more money as a musician? Stop splitting it two ways for a start: after years of sharing the returns from Outkast’s output with Big Boi, André decided to reap the full benefits of his musical endeavors by going solo. Well, I say solo… asides from “The Love Below” (which was released as one half of the Outkast project Speakerboxxx/The Love Below), André has never actually released a solo album. What he has done is been very careful in selecting collaborative projects with artists who will not only help increase his commercial and critical draw, but will also thoroughly line his pockets in the process. John Legend, Q-Tip, Chris Brown, Ciara, Kesha, Lil’ Wayne, Wiz Khalifa, Jay-Z, Frank Ocean, Beyoncé, Kanye West… think of an artist that features regularly on the charts and there’s a good chance that André 3000 has collaborated with them. The result? Big album sales, high chart positions and a lot of money for André.
Acting up a Storm
Want to make the big bucks? Then do as André has and diversify. Music will get you money; music AND movies will get you more. Since 2003, André has appeared in 15 films (more than most full-time actors) and 5 TV shows. Just as he does in music, André seems to know exactly which projects will bring in the biggest profits (or at least get him the most respect). One of his earliest features, Be Cool, may not have been a darling of the critics, but it did at least bring in a very healthy $95,216,056 in worldwide box office sales. Scary Movie 4 was another box office success/ critical flop, while Jimi: All Is By My side (a bio of rock god, Jimi Hendrix) managed to claim both positive reviews and a healthy return at the box-office. TV wise, André has pulled in a decent salary from his re-occurring roles on American Crime and Class of 3000, as well as his singular appearances on shows such as The Shield, About a Girl, and Brad Neely’s Harg Nallin’ Sclopio Peepio.
Getting Down to Business
A stellar career in music and film will take you far: a stellar career in business will do the same. Fortunately for André’s bank balance, he’s managed to do both. In 2008, André capitalized on his household name status by going into business. The result was Benjamin Bixby, a line of attire that drew inspiration from old-school college football. Consisting of 70 pieces, the clothing line was a 100% André 3000 creation, right down to the hand drawn sketches he based the preppy designs on. Clothing label aside, André has also seen success with his collaboration with Tretorn; their 2017 partnership resulted in a line of retro footwear that had sneakerheads the world over falling over themselves to hand over their cash. As ever, André was heavily involved in the project, with Tretorn consultant Jeff Staple moved to comment, “You never know what you’re going to get when a celebrity walks into the room, but [André] was super involved in the process. This wasn’t a phoned-in collab”.
Making money is easy enough when a million designers, brands and labels are begging for your endorsement. André has been choosy about his projects, and it’s paid off: each of his sponsorship deals have been with names big enough to bring in the cash AND add value to his household name status. Take his endorsement deal with Gillette: not only did André break ground as one of the first ever shaving style ambassadors to sport a pretty significant amount of facial hair, he also added to his credentials as a philanthropist by supporting the brand’s Movember campaign, helping raise funds for prostate and testicular cancer initiatives. As we all know, there’s nothing like a spot of philanthropy to increase your appeal… and your future cash flow.
So how exactly has André 3000 made his money? The answer is simple- talent, hard work, and just a smidgen of luck. André hasn’t sat back and let the money come to him- ever since high school, he’s been actively chasing it down, whether through his music, his acting, his clothing line or his endorsements. Clearly, there’s power (and wealth) to be had from diversification- as long as you choose your projects wisely and never overexpose yourself to the point your name loses its appeal. And this is perhaps where André has succeeded most- while some artists never seem to leave the spotlight, André dips in and out just enough to keep us eager for more. The result? We’re always more than willing to part with our cash for a slice of his next project, whatever that may be.