At 18, Danielle Bregoli, AKA Bhad Bhabie, is already well-versed in real estate. Five years after an appearance on “Dr. Phil” — her mother pleaded for his help controlling her “car-stealing, knife-wielding, twerking 13-year-old daughter” — which yielded the meme-worthy saying “Cash me ousside, howbow dah?” the would-be rapper is considering paying cash for a $4 million, fully furnished home in Boca Raton, Fla., with space for her two dogs, three cars (a Bentley, a BMW and a souped-up Jeep) and a “walk-in closet big enough to put a bed in,” she says resolutely while seated alongside her manager, Dan Roof, at a San Fernando Valley steakhouse on a mid-July afternoon.
The waterfront manse she’s eyeing is a 20-minute drive from Boynton Beach, where Bregoli grew up, but a world away. Boca’s median personal income is $67,531; in Boynton Beach, 10% of residents live below the poverty line. And while Bregoli spends part of her time in Los Angeles, where she rents a 6,000-square-foot contemporary in Woodland Hills, she sees Florida for what it is: a tax haven.
Says the incredulous self-made multimillionaire: “All my cars and stuff are registered in Florida. I’m not about to pay these taxes!”
Bregoli is the first to assert her financial success was achieved with little support from the music industry. Signed to Atlantic Records in 2017 at 14, based on the strength of the viral “These Heaux,” which landed her the honor of becoming the youngest female rapper to debut on the Billboard Hot 100, Bhad Bhabie was able to land features by hip-hop heavies like Lil Baby, Ty Dolla $ign, YG, Lil Yachty, Kodak Black and City Girls on her 2018 debut album, “15.” (Currently topping her collaboration wish list: Young Thug.) But placement on popular playlists like Spotify’s Rap Caviar eluded her, despite having accrued hundreds of millions of streams on the platform. (Representatives from Spotify were not available for comment.)
Bregoli and her team suggest the label didn’t properly promote her music, but company sources counter that claim, pointing to the DSPs’ reticence when it came to playlisting Bhad Bhabie, which extended beyond Spotify.
To hear music business insiders tell it, Bhad Bhabie has a credibility problem among hip-hop gatekeepers. “It’s hard to take her seriously,” says one such tastemaker. “She’s promoting acting irresponsibly,” offers another, pointing to her racy lyrics and real-life dustups captured on social media and later dissected on Instagram Live by Bregoli in meticulous play-by-play detail.
Antics aside, Bregoli is no dummy when it comes to money. Although she wasn’t allowed by law to access her bank account as a minor, she amassed a small fortune from branding deals, including upwards of $2 million for product placements in Bhad Bhabie videos and online endorsements for apparel brand Fashion Nova. Elsewhere on social media, Bregoli racks up $40,000 a post to her 9 million Snapchat devotees, not to mention promotions to her 17 million Instagram followers, YouTube views (she boasts 7.6 million subscribers) and royalties from her platinum-certified singles and 1 billion-plus streams. On deck: beauty, hair and nail products bearing the Bhad Bhabie name (at last count, Bregoli tallied 70 tattoos on every part of her body, though so far she’s left her face untouched).
“My main business manager, who’s been with me since I was like 15, when my mom had control of everything, tells me, ‘Everyone thinks that you’re going to blow it, but I think you’re going to do great,’” she says of her finances. “And when I turned 18, I started making so much money when I started doing OnlyFans. And when I say making money, I mean, I could retire right now if I wanted to.”
Launched in 2016, subscription platform OnlyFans has gained notoriety as a favorite of sex workers, who are able to charge subscribers, or “fans,” for exclusive content deemed too provocative for Instagram. Six days after turning 18 in April, Bregoli made $1 million in her first six hours on the platform, breaking the OnlyFans record and sparking a fair share of criticism (although scantily clad, Bregoli assures she’s showing only what she’s “comfortable with”) — to which she responded by giving the world the proverbial middle finger, as she has countless times before. Since her debut, that number has ballooned exponentially, though she and Roof decline to get into specifics. “Imagine where it’s at now, months later,” Bregoli says.
“Bhad Bhabie found a way to turn a negative situation into a life-changing moment, catapulting herself to social media fame, but what’s next?” says marketer and cultural curator Karen Civil, who notes that “her arguments and fights seem to play front and center.” Civil adds: “With her (music) career being stagnant, it makes me question, is rapping really her endgame?”
To that end, Bhad Bhabie — having “parted ways” with Atlantic — is looking to release music on her own. “I don’t do music ’cause I need money from it,” she says, reveling in a co-sign of sorts from Cardi B. Her former labelmate recently said on Instagram: “I’m so proud of Bhad Bhabie, her growth is beautiful. … I’m hearing (she’s) making a lot of money. I’m talking about millions. When people are making big money, I respect it. I don’t give a f--- how they make it.”
The sentiment falls in line with the theme of her new song “Role Model,” which Bregoli says was inspired by a real-life Joseph County, Michigan judge who reprimanded a teenager in his courtroom (virtually), cautioning her, “Is the ‘Cash me outside’ girl your role model?” (The teen replied, sheepishly, “No, sir, it’s not.”) The song’s forthcoming video, in which Bregoli plays school teacher in black stilettos and leather, features a send-up of the exchange.
Bregoli doesn’t purport to be anything other than what she is and says it’s up to parents to properly raise their kids, including monitoring their exposure to explicit lyrics. “Even Cardi B, she turns that shit off when her kid comes around,” she says, referring to the song “WAP” with Megan Thee Stallion. “You are the one who should put restrictions on your child’s youth.”
Coming from the über-rebel herself, whose stunts got her national recognition, that’s a rich statement, but Bregoli takes no responsibility and makes no apologies. “I never wanted to be famous,” she says matter-of-factly. “I wasn’t working my a-- off all night trying to make a name for myself. I was handed it. And instead of being an embarrassment and a joke for the rest of my life, I became something successful and something that people can choose to look up to for the right reasons — or choose not to. I don’t give a f---.”
This story first appeared on Variety.com.