Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Go to Jail, Do Pass Go and Collect $200..... 100,000 times.

In many ways stars such as Elvis Presley, Tupac Shakur, and most recently Michael Jackson being dead has caused their stock to rise. The idea of being worth more dead than alive is certainly embodied in these kings of the music trade. But for stars who have plenty of time left in their careers to maximize potential earnings death isn't a great plan. Eccentric rapper Dwayne "Lil Wayne" Carter has found the solution to this problem, instead of dying he chose the next best thing, incarceration, and it's earning him millions of dollars every year.

"Lil Wayne earned $20 million dollars this year, good enough to claim the No. 4 spot on this year’s Hip-Hop Cash Kings list, despite spending much of the year in jail. That figure was actually $2 million more than Lil Wayne made as a free man the year before, thanks to a rigorous touring schedule and a flurry of recording before he went off to jail."

Could going off to jail be the antidote to poor record sales? Can incarceration be a way of means to maximum efficiency for Lil Wayne? To find that out we would need to look at the opportunity cost of going to jail versus what Lil Wayne could have been doing during his incarceration period. Lil Wayne did make many efforts to boost sales before becoming incarcerated such as tours and recording sessions, but was that the reason for the increase gross from $18 million in 2009 to $20 million in 2010? I don't think so. I'd say if Lil Wayne would have had the choice to avoid incarceration his production would have never exceeded the $18 million in 2009. The fact that his incarceration was due to gun and marijuana possession, two main topics in Lil Wayne's lyrics to his music, also helps his sales. This is because by going to jail on these charges, Lil Wayne's "gangsta" image that his fans see is kept in prime condition. No one wants to see a "gangsta rapper" that works at a flower shop and enjoys free time in the park, they want to see the real gangstas who have lived in the hood, shot guns, been in jail, etc.

"I'm a rapper, that's who I am Miss Katie, and I am a gangsta, and I do what I want."- Lil Wayne in and interview with Katie Couric.

Lil Wayne's choices, while they may have been unlawful were profitable in his situation and job marker. Due to the demographic which he choses to appeal to his incarceration is like a pay raise. For Lil Wayne the choice to become incarcerated actually boosted him to maximum efficiency, earning him $20 million.


  1. I think this is a great discussion of opportunity cost. Do you think this reinforced ‘persona’ will increase ‘popularity’ of incarceration? How would an increase in prisoners affect tax payers on the state and local levels?

  2. I don't think incarceration will ever become popular, that's not what I was really trying to say. What will become popular and is popular to the demographic Lil Wayne appeals to is illegal drug and gun usage. As long as "gangsta rappers" encourage illegal activity prisoner counts will continue to rise. Of course an increase in prisoners will cause taxes to pay for these criminals to rise. These tax raises will be used in building incarceration facilities, prisoner transportaion, etc.