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How Young Dolph’s Estate Will Benefit From the Late Rapper Owning His Music Masters

The legacy of Young Dolph will continue to live on and support his family even after his untimely passing.

The 36-year-old rapper was fatally shot 22 times on Nov. 17, 2021, outside of a local, Black-owned bakery in Memphis. At the time of his death, the popular artist known for his philanthropy had a net worth of $3 million.

ATLANTA, GEORGIA – OCTOBER 9: Rapper Young Dolph backstage during day 1 of 2021 ONE Musicfest at Centennial Olympic Park on October 9, 2021 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Prince Williams/Wireimage)

Dolph was mostly an independent rapper. When alive, he often spoke about supporting his family and giving back to the community through the formation of his own music label, Paper Route Entertainment.

When he died, the artist apparently retained ownership of his masters, which could benefit his estate. It is uncertain if the rapper left behind a will and who is in charge of his estate. He did leave behind four siblings: two brothers and two sisters as well as two young children.

A master, sometimes referred to as the master recording, is the underlying rights to a song. The holder has financial control and can profit from the song or album. Often called “masters,” it is the source from which all the later copies are made. By retaining their masters, artists can make money directly from their masters through masters’ royalties, remixes and samples and sponsorships, among other things. By owning the masters, an artist could license third parties to use the masters for TV, film, commercial advertising or even for sampling in other songs by other artists.

Still Remembered

In honor of his success, the “DOLPHLAND Pop-Up Museum Tour,” dedicated to Dolph and organized by his estate, is scheduled for several cities throughout 2023. The first dates are Jan. 13 to 15 in New York City; other locations include Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta and Dallas. Tickets went on sale on Dec. 26, and anyone who makes a purchase is automatically entered for a chance to win $100,000.

“Dolph has a great base of fans, and he loved going out and engaging with them. We wanted to do something that still provided a way for that engagement beyond just the music,” Dolph’s former manager Allen Parks told Complex. “We brought the idea to Trap Music Museum, and they were excited to help bring a dope experience to life for all who will attend.”

As of Dec. 16, 2022, Young Dolph’s seventh studio album, Paper Route Frank, was released posthumously and debuted at No. 4 on the Billboard Rap chart.

Financial Legacy

He didn’t always remain indie. In 2019, he complained about record label issues and having problems getting his music out.

He tweeted, “The record label been bushittin. They want let me drop any new music. I KNEW I SHOULDVE NEVER SIGNED THIS FUKIN DEAL,” Dolph wrote. “I have a confession. I signed 2 deals in 2018 and signed a deal in 2015………. so now that it’s out that I’m not some big independent supastar, and I’ve signed 4 deals like everyone else. I wonder if all the rappers gonna stop hatin now. Sorry for shittin on u guys knowing dam well i got a Major deal‍.”

Dolph never made it clear which label deals he was talking about in the tweet, but a year prior to the tweet he had inked a major deal with independent distributor Empire. The deal was reportedly a multi-million-dollar partnership that was rumored to turn into eight figures over the deal’s lifetime, Complex reported.

Dolph, who formed his own label in 2010, called Paper Route Empire, said he turned down a $22 million deal and opted for the Empire deal because it allowed him to retain his masters.

“The deals I was being offered, I can’t lie, they were good. Not only is this still a multi-million dollar deal, but I can keep my masters and get a bigger percentage,” he said. “This is a big deal because it’s linking the biggest independent artist and label with the biggest distribution company.”

He also built his wealth outside of music.

It was also reported that Young Dolph apparently owned more than 100 foreclosured Memphis properties.

“Damn! @youngdolph rarely rapped about his real estate portfolio but he owned over 100 properties in Memphis and he also purchased a foreclosure for his children every year for their birthdays,” filmmaker and podcaster Tim Jackson wrote on Instagram. “He told me this himself when we met. I admired this about him and even challenged him to rap more about this side of his hustle.” 

At the time of his death, there was much speculation the rapper was retiring from the entertainment business with plans he was going to spend more time with his two children and pursue more philanthropic efforts. Dolph, in fact, was scheduled to appear at a local food and clothes drive, giving away items for the needy families in his hometown.

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