With private equity firms moving further and further afield in the ongoing search for new opportunities, it probably comes as no surprise that firms are looking at projects in places like Vietnam, Kazakhstan and Nigeria. But before any firms pat themselves on the back for closing a deal in a faraway place like Azerbaijan, they should know they were beaten to the punch—by a gangsta rapper. Willie D, a founding member of the Houston-based group The Geto Boys, is reportedly living in Azerbaijan and making a killing in the property market.
Willie D, nee Willie James Dennis, came to prominence with US teenagers in the late 1980s when his group released popular rap albums like their eponymous third record and We Can't Be Stopped. A high-profile fight with the group's record label pushed the single “Mind is Playing Tricks on Me” to the number one spot on the rap singles chart.
Speaking to Allhiphop.com in 2004, Willie D laid out his reasons for moving his wife and family to the Central Asian nation. “Business opportunities made me move,” he said. “I was messing with the real estate. The world is bigger than the United States and if there is an opportunity abroad, that's where I am going.”
“Our people need to find some real estate,” he continued. “It's way more stable than the music game. Cats keep taking all their street money and putting it in the rap game. Ninety-five percent of them are going to fail and lose all that they have. You gotta be a dumb motherf***er to fail in real estate. Real estate has a 91 percent success ratio.”
Late last year, Rolling Stonechecked in with Willie D, who was still making ends meet in the Caucasus property game.
“Azerbaijan ain't like the USA,” he told the magazine. “It took some getting used to. You're going to have some problems going to the bathroom when you start eating that food and you'll get your ass killed if you talk about the government! But with real estate, it's all about getting in early.”
Sounds like a seasoned real estate pro to us.