Houston hip-hop mastermind Bun B has a new album coming out on August 3 called Trill O.G., and like his best work (both as a solo artist and as one half of UGK), it's full of rugged rhymes, glossy production (courtesy of the likes of Boi-1da, DJ Khalil, the Neptunes and others) and some razor-sharp guest appearances by Young Jeezy, Drake, Raekwon and T-Pain. The latter provides the hook on the just-released single "Trillionaire," on which Bun brags about being "a self-made trillionaire."
In bragging about such incredible wealth, Bun B has left the middling economy in the dust and kicked the inflation level way, way up. To our knowledge, nobody has ever touted being worth one trillion dollars, which is the sort of money that even Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey have to dream about. So until somebody comes along and brands himself a quadrillionaire or a quintillionaire, Bun currently sits at the top of the pile as far as bragged-about riches go.
But how did we get to "Trillionaire"? It took a bit of time and a natural progression of increasingly large numbers.
Bing Crosby, "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?"
Though riches were scarce during the Great Depression, great music flourished under challenging circumstances. "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" became a huge hit, and was so massive that both Crosby's version and a version by Rudy Vallee became chart-topping hits.
Marilyn Monroe, "One Silver Dollar"
Monroe was worth significantly more, but you have to start somewhere. Ironically, there were no silver dollars minted in 1959 when Monroe performed the song in the film "Some Like It Hot."
Dr. Dre, "The $20 Sack Pyramid"
In The Chronic's most memorable skit, two players compete on a game show where the modest prizes include a bag of marijuana and a gift certificate to the Compton Swap Meet. Hardly the riches that Dre would become used to, but for some, that's a massive prize.
The Twilight Singers, "Forty Dollars"
Hardly a fortune, but certainly enough for former Afghan Whigs and Twilight Singers frontman Greg Dulli to have a hot night out on the town. According to the song, "Forty Dollars" is actually the cost of his love. "I got love for sale/ Come on get some before it gets stale again," he sings, truly offering up his services at a discount.
Puff Daddy and the Family, "It's All About the Benjamins"
While Diddy and his cohorts are more interested in fat stacks than single bills, this is by far the best ode to the $100 bill (so named because of the image of Benjamin Franklin on it) ever written.
Barenaked Ladies, "If I Had $1,000,000"
An early hit for the Canadian rock pranksters, "If I Had $1,000,000" has the group fantasizing about what they would do if they were suddenly wealthy. Such aspirations include "I would buy you some art/ A Picasso or a Garfunkel" and "I'd buy you an exotic pet/ Like a llama or an emu." This song sneaks in here because it's an aspirational tune about money, whereas the next song actually boasts about the amount in question.
Lil Wayne, "A Milli"
The most ubiquitous beat of 2008 probably should have laid out all the reasons why Lil Wayne was rich, but it ended up being a sign of things to come, as Lil Wayne became the last artist (and perhaps the last ever) to sell a million copies of an album (in this case his magnum opus Tha Carter III) in its first week of release.
Travie McCoy featuring Bruno Mars, "Billionaire"
The chart-crashing hit from Gym Class Heroes frontman Travis "Travie" McCoy explains all the reasons why the rapper wants to have a billion dollars, even going as far as wishing he was on the cover of Forbes magazine. In his best aspiration rhyme, McCoy says, "I'd probably pull an Angelina and Brad Pitt/ And adopt a bunch of babies that ain't never had sh--."