- Richest Business › Producers
- Net Worth:
- $1.5 Million
- Film Producer, Record producer, Entrepreneur
What is Kareem "Biggs" Burke's net worth?
Kareem Biggs Burke is an American rap mogul who has a net worth of $1.5 million. Kareem Biggs Burke earned his net worth as one of the co-founders of Roc-A-Fella Records and Rocawaear clothing. Kareem co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records in 1996 with Jay-Z and Damon Dash. The label got its start as an independent recording outlet for Jay-Z's first album. They eventually represented such major artists as The Notorious B.I.G., Camp Lo, Da Ranjahz, Sauce Money, Jaz-O and Memphis Bleek. Jay bought Damon and Kareem out of Rocawear before the brand was acquired in 2007 for $204 million. Damon would later claim that Jay approached him in the years before the sale and explained that he planned to launch a new clothing line, which he would own 100%. Damon claimed the he knew this move would significantly devalue Rocawear, because the brand was mainly famous thanks to Jay-Z, so he reluctantly agreed to sell his stake. Damon also claimed that at one point they were offered $450 million to be acquired by Tommy Hilfiger, a deal that would have given him $40 million. Roc-A-Fella Records was a 50/50 partnership with Def Jam almost from the beginning. The trio eventually sold the remaining 50% to Def Jam, under the umbrella of Universal Music, for an undisclosed amount. With the sale, Damon Dash and Kareem Burke founded their own label, while Jay-Z became the President of Def Jam.
After the break-up of the Roc-A-Fella Record Company, Burke helped launch another new record label Dame Dash Music along with Damon Dash. Roc-A-Fella Records currently operates as a subsidiary of Universal Music Group and is distributed by Island Def Jam Motown Music Group. Burke remained with Dame Dash after Roc-A-Fella was sold and started Roc4Life while Jay-Z presided over Def Jam.
Among his other ventures, Burke co-directed and executive-produced the television documentary film "It's a Hard Truth, Ain't It," about 13 incarcerated men studying filmmaking as part of their prison therapy.
Kareem Burke was born on January 19, 1974 in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City. He has many siblings, including Brian, Robert, Kyambo, and Jamil.
In 1995, Burke co-founded Roc-A-Fella Records with rapper Jay-Z and entrepreneur Damon Dash. Damon sought out Burke to be an angel investor in the record label. Burke provided $16,000 in startup capital. Damon proceeded to use all of that money to film a music video for Jay-Z's song "In My Lifetime." Burke also introduced Damon and Jay to an associate he knew on the Carribean Island of St. Thomas who lent the duo a yacht and allowed them to film the video at his mansion.
The company was initially created to serve as an independent outlet for Jay-Z's debut album, as the rapper had been repeatedly turned down by major record labels. That album, "Reasonable Doubt," came out in mid-1996 as Roc-A-Fella Records' first release. Although it wasn't a runaway commercial success, the album launched a number of hit songs and helped Jay-Z establish his bona fides in the hip hop world. He was soon joined on the label by producers DJ Clark Kent and DJ Ski and rappers Sauce Money, Memphis Bleek, and Jaz-O. In mid-1997, Roc-A-Fella Records entered a 50/50 partnership and distribution deal with Def Jam Recordings. The company went on to release Jay-Z's sophomore album "In My Lifetime, Vol. 1" and R&B duo Christión's debut album "Ghetto Cyrano." Roc-A-Fella had its first Platinum-certified release with Jay-Z's 1998 single "Hard Knock Life," from his third studio album.
While Jay-Z continued to be Roc-A-Fella's figurehead artist going into the new millennium, the label also found great success with Beanie Sigel and DJ Clue, whose albums "The Truth" and "The Professional 2," respectively, cracked the top five of the Billboard 200. Roc-A-Fella had further commercial hits with Cam'ron's "Come Home with Me," Freeway's "Philadelphia Freeway," the Diplomats' "Diplomatic Immunity," Kanye West's "The College Dropout," and Young Gunz's "Tough Luv." West continued to be a top artist for the label going forward, with his albums "Late Registration," "Graduation," "808s & Heartbreak," "My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy," and "Yeezus" – as well as his collaborative album with Jay-Z, "Watch the Throne" – all hitting number one on the Billboard 200. Meanwhile, Roc-A-Fella became fully owned by Def Jam Recordings in 2004. A couple years after that, Burke sold his shares in Roc-A-Fella and left the music industry.
Circle of Success
More than a decade after leaving the music industry, Burke returned in 2019 to launch his own management company, Circle of Success. His first client was up-and-coming rapper and songwriter Saint Jhn.
In mid-2012, Burke was sentenced to five years in prison after he pled guilty to conspiring to distribute over 100 kilos of marijuana. On top of his sentence, he was ordered to forfeit his New Jersey home and BMW, as well as $15,000 in cash. Burke was released from prison in late 2015.
Beyond the music world, Burke has been involved with some television films pertaining to prison life. In 2018, he co-directed and executive-produced the documentary "It's a Hard Truth, Ain't It," which was shot at Pendleton Correctional Facility in Indiana. The film focuses on 13 incarcerated men studying filmmaking as part of their therapy in prison. All the men earned directing credit on the picture alongside Burke and co-director Madeleine Sackler. Some of the men were also cast in the television film "O.G.," which Burke executive-produced. Premiering in 2018 before airing on HBO in early 2019, "O.G." follows the story of a man reentering civilian life after spending 26 years in prison. It stars Jeffrey Wright, William Fichtner, and Mare Winningham.