Real Estate is a popular business move for hip-hop stars who are looking to diversify their portfolio and create different revenue streams outside the music. Hall-of-fame radio personality/DJ/Entrepreneur Raashaun “DJ Envy” Casey has grown into the face of hip-hop real estate with years of investing success, mentorship, and disruption alongside his longtime partner and highly-successful realtor Cesar “Flippin NJ” Piña. While there is plenty of real estate-driven reality shows on today’s television, it’s about to get an urban cultural injection in 2023.
50 Cent and Lionsgate announced the development of an unscripted show starring Envy and Flippin NJ set for A&E last October. The upcoming show will join the incredible 50 Cent television empire that is home to the globally popular Power and BMF franchises and recently signed a new non-exclusive broadcast television deal with Fox last month. In the series, Envy and Flippin’ NJ unveil everything that goes into purchasing, renovating, managing, and maintaining a property.
Over the holidays, The Source got the opportunity to speak with Envy and Flippin NJ about a variety of topics surrounding their upcoming show and answered several fan questions on real estate.
Read the full interview, which has been slightly edited and condensed for clarity, below.
[Bryson “Boom” Paul]: First off. Congratulations to the two of you on the upcoming show, Property Players, which is executive produced by 50 Cent on A&E. Now, early news reports say there was a network bidding war for the show?
DJ Envy: I mean, it was a special thing. I approached 50 and told 50 what we were doing with the real estate, and he was into it, and he loved the fact that we were helping our culture and really pushing it through, and we started spreading the word. And when 50 gets involved, it’s like no other, and we’ve had a bunch of networks reaching out to do deals, and I trust 50.
So 50 wanted to go with A&E, we met with the executives at A&E, and they’re cool, they understand the culture, they’re actually into what we’re doing, and that was a perfect fit. But yeah, we did have some great companies reaching out, but I think A&E is a great home for us.
How does your show differ from other real estate television shows?
Cesar “Flippin NJ” Piña: So pretty much with us, what makes us different is we’re not very cookie cutter. Whenever you look at these TV shows when it comes to real estate, they’re all very cookie-cutter. You buy an ugly house. You fix it. You flip it. This is how much you put in. Boom, that’s all you see. It doesn’t show you all the other parts of it. Let’s say just on the flipping side: you’re dealing with contractors, you’re getting permits, you’re dealing with the city, you’re dealing with contractors trying to rob you, trying to charge you more than what things cost.
We’re going to show everything that happens behind the scenes that you never see on TV. Besides that, right? Not only we flip houses, we’re also into rental properties. There hasn’t been any TV show that shows you anything about rentals. They don’t show you about evictions. They don’t show you about property management. They don’t show you about dealing with tenants, which is one of the craziest things in the world when it comes to that. You don’t see that. They don’t show you anything when it comes to that.
Then we’re also developers. We also develop properties from scratch. We’re putting up a 50-unit building, a 100-unit building, a unit building right now that you’re going to see that on the show too. So as far as real estate, we do pretty much everything across the board. Besides the seminars too, and helping other people and mentoring other people, regular people, celebrities and stuff like that. You never really see anything like that on TV.
DJ Envy: Yeah, and we not even sure if “Property Players” is going to be the name yet, but I will say this. If you look at everything that we’ve done or everything that 50 does, it’s out of the box, but it represents the culture, right? Whether it’s The Breakfast Club, it was a show that nobody ever seen before that came together. At first, it was like, “What is this?” And then we are 13 years in the Radio Hall Of Fame and all these accomplishments, interviews, and all that.
So, it’s a show that’s going to show real life. It’s going to show two dudes, one from Queens, New York, myself. Cesar from Paterson, New Jersey. Our grind, how we came up. His dad was a taxi cab driver. My dad is a retired police officer. So it wasn’t like we had a lot of money. Wasn’t like we came from wealth, wasn’t like we were rich, but we figured it out. And not only figured out, we’re turning it around and teaching our community.
So you going to see a lot of craziness. You’re going to see a lot of tenants chasing out of the buildings. You going to see people sleeping in our buildings. You going to see poo and doo-doo in some of our buildings. You going to see our kids in the buildings. You going to see my wife running out in some of the buildings. You going to see real-ish. It’s nothing made up. And that’s the best thing about this. We didn’t have to make anything up because it’s just so real.
Do you consider yourselves disruptors in real estate?
Envy: Yeah, I definitely am. When it comes to real estate, I am a disruptor. I’m the type of person that I’m going to go left. I remember when I first started talking about Paterson and Detroit, and I had all these real estate “moguls” telling me, “Yo, stop talking about these areas. You’re flooding the areas. You’re flooding the blocks.” I had so many people mad that I was working with Cesar.
But I tell everybody all the time, I’m good. Financially, I’m okay. And if I could help my people become okay, I’m happy. So if it’s going to mean that I get a smaller pie, smaller part of the pie, I’m good with that. Because I know my next-door neighbor’s looking like me. I know my next-door neighbor came from the same place as I did. I know my next-door neighbor’s going to be able to teach his son, or teach his daughter, teach his wife, teach his mother, teach his father.
My parents been living in the same crib for 45 years. Never invested a dime. And not because they didn’t want to, it’s because they didn’t have the knowledge to. They didn’t know how to. And for them, a lot of people, especially older people, where they put their money? Under the mattress. They don’t want to put it into the banks though, because they just don’t have the knowledge.
And I think about it all the time. If my mom’s invested instead of doing some of the things she did, she would be even more well off. Thank God she has a son that did okay and make sure she’s all right. But I think about that all the time. There’s a million of my moms out there. A million of my pops out there. So I’m just trying to change the narrative a little bit.
What is the show’s main priority?
Cesar: That anything is possible. Anybody could do it. Real estate is one of those things that as long as you’re good with numbers, I don’t care what your background is, if you have a college degree or you’re from the streets, it’s just numbers. And if you’re good with numbers, man, you could also be successful too.
I don’t come from a real estate family. I don’t come from any money. My real estate story is not traditional. I learned about real estate in prison. The guy that came in, I taught him how to bid, and he taught me about real estate. And here I am, 17 years later, we’re more than 3,000 units nationwide.
Envy: Yeah, I just want the communities to know and our people to know that it can be done. My assistant, her name is Mercedes, she’s been working with me for two years and when she first got the job, and we started working during the pandemic, she was living in a house. One-floor house with five people. And she’s living in a room, whatever they call a room in the houses.
And I told her, “You continue to work with me, I’m going to teach you not only how to buy your own house and your first house, but I’m going to show you and guide you through it.” And a year into working with me, she got her own crib, three-bedroom house that she purchased. I think she purchased for like 350. It’s now worth like 490. And that’s what it’s about. Teaching people like us how do it, and how to obtain it.
I’m sure she thought she could obtain it, but I didn’t think she thinks it would be that fast. But she can. Sometimes it’s just a matter of saving. Sometimes just putting your priorities first. But the reason I tell that story is because it’s not just about her, it’s now she’s inspiring the people around her. Showing her people that, “Yo, it can be done.” You know what I mean? And that’s what we trying to do.
Envy, you’ve been in the entertainment industry your entire career, so television isn’t too unfamiliar to you. But Cesar, television is a completely new frontier for you. Did you ever see yourself making a TV show?
Cesar “Flippin NJ” Piña: Not at all. I’ve been in real estate for 17 years, I met Envy about four or five years ago. He’s like, “Yo, I think you got a great story. Get in front of everybody and let them know what you’ve been through and where you’re at today.” And I was like, it was never in my future or even thought about being a public speaker. I even dropped the book. My wife says all the time that I could barely read and write. I’m just good at numbers. It went number one, Wall Street, number one. Amazon, number one. Barnes and Noble. And now we got a TV show. I’ve never imagined that we would ever, number one, talk in front of large crowds, drop a book, and now a TV show. I never even thought about that.
Of course, you will feature celebrity guests on Property Players. Cesar, I’d like to ask you what is a common question entertainers ask you about real estate?
Cesar: You know what’s the craziest thing that I have learned with a lot of entertainers and especially in hip hop? A lot of these guys are still renters. And when they tell you that, I’m like, “Bro, but you’ve made millions of dollars. You get paid a couple hundred thousand dollars per show. What the hell going on?” And a lot of athletes too. A lot of these guys they got a lot of money, but they don’t know what to do with it. That’s one of the first things they ask me, “How can I invest? How can I start?”
But then you look at them for a second, and you’re like, “Yo, you got more money than me, bro. You still didn’t start?” That’s one of the things, especially with the older hip hop guys, like 90s, early 2000 hip hop, you’d be amazed that most of those guys, man, they didn’t really invest their money a lot.
Fans of the Breakfast Club have heard you two speak on and have differences of opinion on buying properties you haven’t seen. Envy, you are against it, while Cesar frequently does it. Could you two explain your differences of opinion on purchasing unseen properties?
Envy: Well, if you’re a first-time home buyer or you’re new to this, I would say get to that area. I wouldn’t advise going to any area you haven’t seen. Site unseen are for professionals. It’s for people like Cesar, my partner. Even me I purchase a bunch of properties, I still go and see it because I want to touch it. I want to see what the neighborhood is. I want to see what it looks like. I want to see if it’s close to a pharmacy if it’s close to a dog park, if it’s close to downtown where it is.
So me personally, I check on my properties. If I got to drive to Milwaukee, Detroit, Florida, Paterson, Atlantic City, it doesn’t matter. I’m going to go see it. I’m going to make that time. If you can make time to watch your bum-ass Cowboys, I’m sorry that was personal. If you can make time to watch the Cowboy game or football game, or basketball game, or if you can make time to go to the club or go on vacation, you can make time to invest in your future.
Cesar: Real estate is just numbers. When I first started in real estate before … Well, before we started doing the seminars, my thing was Jersey. Patterson, Passaic, Newark, East Orange, Tri-State area, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, I’m buying everything. I want to control it. But then, once I went around the country and I started seeing different areas, it’s just numbers. If you learn the numbers, you could do it anywhere, and that’s all real estate is.
So now, we’re in New Jersey, we’re in Atlanta, we’re in Florida, we’re in Chicago, we’re in Wisconsin, we’re in Ohio, and I’m not there physically. I go to most of those places at least once a month, but it’s just numbers. As far as a person starting, I always recommend rental property. That’s the easiest thing. Get a rental property. Use your FHA mortgage, and then as you learn the business, then expands to other areas. But as far as being an out-of-state landlord and not really being there, it’s very possible to do. Most people get scared about being a landlord out of state, but as long as you find a good property management company, you’re paying them five to 10%, you don’t even have to be there. You don’t have to deal with none of the headaches.
A lot of people relocated to different areas in the US due to COVID-19. As real estate moguls, what are some other areas that you’ve ventured out into looking into as far as buying properties?
Envy: I mean, landscape right now for real estate for myself is a tough spot. Right now, I’m just stacking because I think with interest rates going up, I think a lot of people are going to lose the homes. I think a lot of people overpriced, overpaid for homes. And I think it’s going to be a situation where a lot of people are going to lose. Similar to the 2008 market, where prices went down and there was all this inventory and the people that made off were the people that was buying all that inventory for cheap. And I think this could be a situation again.
So right now, as far as myself, I’m sitting back and I’m waiting to see what happens. I’m just stacking my ends and I’m waiting because I’m starting to see people losing cars. I’m starting to see people losing watches. I’m starting to see people losing homes. And as fucked up as it is, is that’s when people usually get the richest. And I’m sitting back and I’m relaxing. And hopefully, people are out there saving as well.
This would be the time that you get that house that you always wanted that couldn’t afford. This would be that time. And like I tell everybody else, I purchased the house in Jersey and the house was worth 12.8. I paid 5 for it. Perfect timing. That’s when you want to buy, when you can strike those type of deals. So even when you do become broke, or if something does happen, you always have equity in your home.
Cesar: Right now, it’s something very … You hear the media, they’re telling you recession. The same recession. Again, like we were talking about before, everybody’s shopping for Christmas. They’re telling you recession; they’re telling you that the market’s going to change. But this is the thing: when you look in between the lines, rates go up, interest rates went up, and that affects people, mostly minorities, more middle class. They can’t afford to buy now. So they’re like, all right, the rates are going up, real estate is going to go down.
But then, you see at a company like Chase just bought a billion dollars worth of rental properties. If you look at it, in essence, what’s happening in this country is they’re trying to raise … Or we’re becoming a nation of renters. All the big institutions they’re all buying up single-family rentals. In the next ten years, about 40% to 50% of the single-family properties in the US are going to be owned by big institutions. They’re getting rid of the middle guy, the little guy, for being a homeowner or a landlord, and they’re making that person into a renter.
That’s really what’s going on. They’re scaring you, but yet all the big companies, all the big funds, they’re all buying up all the real estate in the world right now. And they’re like, “Oh, rates are going up. Don’t get into real estate,” but come and rent this house for me for $3,500.” You got to read in between the lines a little bit because rents never go down. They never go backwards. They always go up. The rental side, right now, becoming a landlord, you’re dancing to the bank. You’re going to win regardless.
But I don’t see values going down in 2023. I think it’s the even interest rates going up, which actually they went down a little bit now is having … At the end of the day, what it comes down to is supply and demand, and there’s not enough housing. That’s why it’s holding the value. I don’t really see it dropping like that. And if it drops, you’re going to see it more in that single-family area, maybe a five to a 10% drop in single-family homes. But as far as multi-family, commercial, anything we’re renting, it’s on fire. It’s not going back down.
How can hip-hop further educate people about real estate and generational wealth?
Envy: I think it’s what we’re doing now, having these types of conversations. And not only that, people just can’t rely on one conversation and say I know everything. You know what I mean? It’s like anything else. It’s like, yo, if you got to go to the doctor, right? Nine times out of 10, you just don’t go to one doctor if it’s a major surgery. You go to a couple of doctors, you ask a couple of people, and then from there, you decide if that is the right decision for you. And that’s with everything else.
Where is the lack of communication when it comes to urban communities with the banks?
Envy: I mean, I can go to Sears and get a washer and dryer easily, you know what I mean? I can go buy a Mercedes-Benz or BMW easily. But now, if I want a business and I’m trying to create something in my community, it’s almost impossible. And a lot of times, a loan amount is less than the BMW, the loan amount is less than the Mercedes. And they’ll say, oh, that’s because we have some equity.
I don’t see them asking that to other cultures. When other cultures are trying to dive into a business, they dive into it. I got a Jewish friend, his name is Ronnie, and he was telling me in his culture, when a small business opens, he says for the first six months, everybody, it’s not law, but they have to go to that business for the first six months. He said there’ll be lines around the corner. And he said the reason that they do that is they want to make sure that business can sustain for six months and that business will be all right for six months. In our community, we don’t do that.
In our community, you open up a store in Dallas where you selling wherever. The first thing people are say is, “Yo, can I get a discount? Yo, can you hook me up? Yo, can you?” And we have to stop doing that. Although I know discounts and getting things cheaper is great, and it feels good. But sometimes we got to understand that that hurts that man’s business because he has staff, he has employees, he has shipping, he has lights, he has electricity, he has water, he has all those things that he has. So we just really have to support our own, and we also have to give people a little leeway.
I mean, leeway is like all businesses are not going to be great. And it’s the meme I see all the time on Instagram or social media where they say, “You go to McDonald’s a thousand times, and 900 of the times, the frosting machine don’t work. But you still go back.” You know what I mean? But this brother has one business, and maybe he had an employee that had a bad day, or he had one day, and maybe the chef was off one day, and then all of a sudden we never gone back to that business, and we just got to make sure we can’t do that. We have to make sure we support our own.
Cesar, you amassed so much success and employed your friends, loved ones, and enthusiasts interested in the industry. How do you remain motivated following the years of accomplishments?
Cesar: It’s just, bro, there’s really no ceiling to reach when it comes to real estate. I’m from Patterson, New Jersey. Patterson, New Jersey alone, has two billion dollars worth of real estate, and that’s a city of 150,000 people. There really is no threshold for me. When I first started, I wanted to have five, ten units, make five, $10,000 a month, hit that, then hit 100, 200, three. There really is no stopping. Now, I tell myself, “You know what? Once I hit 10,000 units, I’m good.” We’ll probably be at 5,000 in the next two years. But for me, I see myself and my daughter taking over the business eventually in the next, maybe … I’m 45, by the time I’m 50, 52, and then I only come to the office maybe twice a week, kind of thing. And then she just takes over the family business, and I just make sure everything’s running correctly.
But yeah, man, there really is no stopping in real estate. It’s one of those things that you could do forever because the thing with real estate is that is one of the things that is not hands-on. When you think about it, if you’re an athlete, you’re a doctor, you’re an attorney, whatever you are, your career’s going to end eventually. Real estate, that rent is due from the fifth to the 10th, forever. When I’m here, or I’m not here, no matter what, that’s coming in. So real estate is like, you’ll keep on adding more units, and once you have your system in play, there really is no stopping.
And lastly, I know you are in the early stages of production, but when can we expect the release of the debut season of Property Players?
Cesar: We’re probably looking at summer 2023 or September 2023.