Our lives are controlled by what influences us. Some of us want love, healthy relationships and support systems to make life worth living. Others desire wealth, status and material possessions to physically show the world our worth. Social media has given us a non-stop look into the society that we all have had a hand in creating. Whether it’s voting for the current president in command, supporting your favorite artist so they’ll one day be considered a legend or draining your phone battery because The Shade Room never sleeps, all of these influences have power over how we live life and the futures we see for ourselves.
When thinking about the role models in this society, preachers and rappers are basically walking gods on this polluted earth. Jesus ruled with 12 followers. Kanye West influences over 28 million people and that’s just on Twitter. Pop culture has always been an escape from the terrible parts of real life. Whether it was the thrilling radio dramas of the 1920s or more recently Beyonce and Jay Z solidifying their love for one another in the third part of their marital music trilogy Everything Is Love, the impact pop culture has on how we see, live and think about the world is undeniable. But do the rockstars of this era have more power than the preachers teaching the good word to packed megachurches around the united states? According to the Pew Research Center Christianity is one of the largest religions in the world with over 2.2 billion christians which is nearly a third of the 6.9 billion people on Earth. Over the years Hip Hop has become the most dominant genre in the world. Last year Nielsen reported Hip Hop and R&B combined are the top genres when it comes to overall consumption. Let’s look beyond the numbers and find out who out which group truly holds the power of influence! To determine the true leaders of this society, I’ve ranked five of the most powerful rappers and preachers by their net worth, social media following and presence in the mainstream space.
- Kenneth Copeland
Net Worth: $300 Million
Social Media Following: Instagram: 169k | Twitter: 358.3k
- Pat Robertson
Net Worth: $100 Million
Social Media Following: None
- D. Jakes
Net Worth: $147 Million
Social Media Following: Instagram: 2.3 Million | Twitter: 69.5k
- Joel Osteen
Net Worth: $40 Million
Social Media Following: Instagram: 1.9 Million | Twitter: 8.6 Million
- Joyce Meyer
Net Worth: $25 Million
Social Media Following: Instagram: 1.4 Million | Twitter: 5.9 Million
- Kanye West
Net Worth: $160 Million
Social Media Following: Twitter: 28.5 Million
- Jay Z
Net Worth: $900 Million
Social Media Following: None
- Nicki Minaj
Net Worth: $75 Million
Social Media Following: Instagram: 88.4 Million | Twitter: 21.3 Million
Net Worth: $250 Million
Social Media Following: Instagram: 43 Million | Twitter: 37.5 Million
- Kendrick Lamar
Net Worth: $35 Million
Social Media Following: Instagram: 9.5 Million | Twitter: 10.8 Million
When looking at the net worth and social media following of both groups, the numbers give us a lot of insight on the type of people who have the most influence within their industry. Within the preacher group older white men make the most money out of the group (shocking, I know) and while money is power, an online presence shouldn’t be overlooked in a world dominated by social media. Kenneth Copeland and Pat Robertson’s online following is lower than the two preachers representing the voices of minorities but they make up for it by having a powerful presence with other platforms (Robertson founded the highly popular yet controversial The 700 Club show on the Christian Broadcasting Network).
Kenneth Copeland leads the Believer’s Voice of Victory tv show and network, giving his message the power to spread beyond his 1,500 acre Kenneth Copeland Ministries which includes a private airstrip and the ministry’s $17.5 million jet. Younger preachers like T.D. Jakes, Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer have built an empire off their names with best selling books, tv shows, radio shows and a huge social media presence that gives them the opportunity to have a diverse audience all around the world. The rapper side of this comparison is more wealthy with artists like Jay Z worth close to a billion dollars. Every artist on the rapper list has turned their successful music career into a platform to dominate in whatever industry they see fit. Whether it be Jay and Kanye taking on the fashion world. Nicki Minaj endorsing her Myx Moscato wine or Drake’s come up as an actor, this group’s influence reaches past hip hop to make them household names around the world.
It seems like if you don’t have any type of social media in 2018 then you are missing out on the world outside of your inner circle. Jay Z is the only rapper on the list with no social media presence but his wife Beyonce easily makes up for his absence. Over the past three years the Carters lives have been closely followed and critiqued after Bey dropped Lemonade, her sixth solo album which chronicled arguably the most powerful couple in the world putting their marital issues out for public consumption and the people definitely ate it up. When the 65 minute visual for the Lemonade album premiered on HBO, over 700,000 people tuned in to watch the reconciliation of hip hop’s Bonnie & Clyde. When Jay Z released his response to Lemonade in the form of an album, the world stopped again and people clammored to hear how The Blueprint rapper could cheat on one of the most universally loved artists in the world, making the first week sales of 4:44 the fourth largest album sales week of 2017 . I mean how could anyone cheat on Beyonce? She’s bigger than the Pope! Well… at least in social media standards with over 100 million followers on Instagram and 15 million followers on Twitter. Let’s take a minute to let the numbers speak and compare Beyonce to the Pope:
Net Worth: 350 Million
Social Media Following: Instagram: 115 Million | Twitter: 15.2 Million
Net Worth: 2 Million
Social Media Following: Twitter: 17.9 Million
Every year Beyonce goes on sold out arena tours to thousands of passionate fans that want to feel her words in real life. She impacts the world through her music, personal life and business endeavors. I stated earlier that Christianity is the world’s largest religion but music reaches beyond religious beliefs. There is no moral code needed to enjoy “Crazy In Love”. Music is universal and the Everything Is Love powerhouse has a unique influence that most people in this world will never reach (including Pope Francis)…
Artists sharing their music with sold out stadiums isn’t completely different than the prominent preachers that get to preach to thousands of people in their church and potentially to millions of people online through streaming. Having so much authority obviously has its perks but every person on these lists are put on a pedestal and their actions and opinions are closely scrutinized daily. Pat Robertson has gotten flack for a variety of comments over the years including his claim that the 2010 earthquake in Haiti was caused by the Haitians making “a pact to the devil” and the 2017 Las Vegas shooting was the outcome of people not respecting President Trump. On the rapper side artists like Kanye are constantly being criticized for their controversial comments (Don’t forget “slavery was a choice”). Comparing the two lists it seems the least controversial figures also make the least amount of money. Joel Osteen and Kendrick Lamar have a very supportive following but their net worths don’t come close to the rest of the people on the lists.
Moving past the numbers, rappers have the opportunity to make art that can reach listeners from any background. While the preachers on this list are very powerful and have the million dollar homes and huge audiences to prove it, their reach doesn’t go beyond religion. Everyone isn’t religious and everyone doesn’t believe in god. But people did believe the 2007 Kanye when he claimed, “I had a dream I could buy my way to heaven. When I awoke, I spent that on a necklace,” on “Can’t Tell Me Nothing”. Having faith for a powerful presence you can’t see is a lot harder than looking at your favorite rapper become a “rap god” over their career and dreaming that you can follow their footsteps.
Rappers also have the advantage of not having to adhere to a morally conscious lifestyle if they don’t want to. Whether you’re checking the Spotify or SoundCloud charts, the biggest artists are rapping about drugs, sex and expensive items. The more conscious rappers (Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Lupe Fiasco) can have more respect in the culture but that respect doesn’t equate to dollars and if you can’t make money from your art than you probably won’t be doing it on a mainstream level for long. In the world of Kendrick Lamar’s and Joel Osteen’s it’s important to remember that none of these people are more superior than the other in the grand scheme of life. When they breathe their last breath they can’t take their money, private jets and designer clothes with them. Their legacy (whether it be good or bad) will be cemented in history but that doesn’t mean their choices should be followed and emulated by the masses in search of true happiness.
So to wrap up this debate, Rappers have the most influence over society. We can’t deny the powerful platform we give these people to share their opinions and reflections of the world. When Beyonce drops an album the world stops for a moment and we’re once again amazed that she pulled off a feat bigger than the previous record. Songs like Childish Gambino’s “This Is America” or Jay Z’s “The Story of O.J.” start endless conversations that question if we’re truly removed from the slave origins of this country. Fearless women in hip hop like Nicki Minaj, Azealia Banks and Cardi B challenge the idea that women shouldn’t be sexually liberated or powerful. Following these artists can lead to interesting reflections on the society we live in and who we put in power but at the end of the day, all of us have a responsibility in shaping the lives we want to live. Take a step back from scrolling through Instagram and following people on Twitter and realize that when it comes to the life you live on this earth, the most powerful influence in your world should be your own.
Article By: Marcel Jeremiah