What is Fab Five Freddy’s Net Worth?
Fab Five Freddy is an American hip hop artist, visual artist, and filmmaker who has a net worth of $2 million. Fab Five Freddy is widely considered to be one of the architects of the street art movement in New York City. He was also the first host of the hip-hop music video show “Yo! MTV Raps.” In 1981 Fab Five Freddy was mentioned in the Blondie song “Rapture” with the lyrics “Fab 5 Freddy told me everybody’s fly”. Fab Five Freddy famously didn’t show up for the music video shoot for “Rapture,” thinking she wasn’t seriously going to rap or name-check him. So at the last minute Blondie cast her friend Jean-Michel Basquiat to stand behind turntables in his place. Basquiat can be seen in the video pretending to know how to use turntables. Some consider this song the first time rap was introduced to the mainstream. Freddy directed the music video “One Love” by Nas and worked on and appeared in the movie American Gangster.
Fab Five Freddy, or Fred Brathwaite, was born on August 31, 1959 in Bedford-Stuyvesant, New York City. He grew up listening to jazz music, as his parents were big fans of the genre. Not much else is known about his early life or family.
In 1978, Freddy became a member of the Brooklyn-based graffiti group known as the Fabulous 5. The group had become notorious in the city for painting the entire side of New York City Subway cars. Under Freddy’s direction, and with the help of other Fabulous 5 member Lee Quiñones, the group began shifting their attention from being focused on street art only to the art world more generally. By 1979, Freddy had an exhibit in a prestigious gallery in Rome, Italy called Galleria LaMedusa. In 1980, he painted a subway car with his depiction of giant Campbell’s Soup cans, a tribute to Andy Warhol. In late 1980, he was cast in the film “New York Beat,” which showcased the art of Jean-Michel Basquiat and the culture that surrounded it, of which Freddy was a part. Freddy also produced the film and composed all of the original music which can be heard in it.
Freddy also managed to create a bridge between the art world and the hip-hop scene in New York. He was a regular guest on Glenn O’Brien’s public access show, “TV Party.” He also frequented the Mudd Club, a nightclub in the city featuring underground music of all kinds. In 1981, Freddy co-curated a graffiti-related arts show called Beyond Words which was held at the Mudd Club. The show featured Freddy’s work along with that of other artists like Futura 2000, Basquiat, Rammellzee, and Kenny Scharf. Given that many of the featured artists had one foot in both the art world and in the hip-hop and rap scene, the show attracted many individuals from both worlds to downtown New York City where they were able to interact. He can also be seen in the music video for the song “Rapture” by Blondie, which was the first hip-hop video to be shown on MTV. He is also mentioned in the video in the line “Fab 5 Freddy told me everybody’s fly” which helped increase his name recognition in the world of pop culture.
Over the next few years, Freddy himself got more involved with making music. He was featured on the 1982 single, “Change the Beat,” in which he rapped a verse in both English and French. At one point on the track, Freddy can be heard saying “Ahhhhh, this stuff is really fresh.” The line would go on to be sampled in over 750 hip-hop tracks in the future. The record led to Freddy recording four other records, all of which were first released in France in 1982. A tour through Europe followed called the “New York City Rap” tour. It featured Freddy along with artists like The Rock Steady Crew, Futura 2000, Phase Two, and Rammellzee, among others. Prior to the tour, American hip-hop music had not been played in France. The tour sparked the hip-hop movement there and helped France become a massive market for hip-hop music.
In 1983, Freddy produced a hip-hop version of “Eisgukühlter Bommerlunder” called “Hip Hop Bommi Bop” in collaboration with the German punk rock band, Die Toten Hosen. The collaboration is said to be the first co-production of punk music and hip-hop.
Freddy made his next big mark in 1988 when he became the first host of the MTV music video show, “Yo! MTV Raps.” The show quickly became the highest rated show on MTV and Freddy spent 10 years with the network. He continued appearing in film in television in the next decades. He appeared in an episode of “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” in 2007 and also made a cameo appearance in “American Gangster” the same year. In 2008, he had a small role in “Rachel Getting Married.” He had a small role in the biopic about former President Barack Obama, “Barry,” in 2016 and then appeared in the seventh season of “Blue Bloods” in 2016.
Freddy briefly served as the head of the independent label, Pallas records. While there, he signed, produced and created all of the visuals for Crucial Conflict, a rap group from Chicago. In 2019, Freddy served as creative director for the full-size hip-hop photography exhibit “Contact High: A Visual History of Hip-Hop.” The exhibit was based on the 2018 book of the same name created and written by Vikki Tobak. It was hosted at The Annenberg Space for Photography in Los Angeles. The same year, Freddy’s film, “Grass is Greener,” was released on Netflix. The film is a documentary about the history of cannabis prohibition in the United States.
Freddy does not divulge any information about his personal life to the public. It is only known that he has at least one daughter named Sparkle who graduated from high school in 2014.