Kanye West and 4 other pop stars who performed for dictators

Keith Wagstaff
The Week
The backlash from Beyonce's performance for the Gadhafis was fiercer than Sasha.

Pop stars don't make all of their money from record sales, which would explain why Britney Spears once appeared in a Pepsi commercial with former Sen. Bob Dole, as well as why Flavor Flav spends all of his time filming VH1 reality shows.

And sometimes, like a downtrodden small-town DJ, they shlep to a wedding or bar mitzvah for some extra cash. The difference, though, is that those footing the bill are usually foreign strongmen with a terrible record on human rights.

SEE ALSO: 5 towns that had to change their names

Here, five pop stars who have performed for dictators:

Kanye West
Reported fee: $3 million

SEE ALSO: The worst word in business: 'Busy'

Yeezy decided to do his best Adam Sandler impression on Saturday, performing at the wedding of Kazakh President Nursultan Nazarbayev's grandson to the daughter of the chairman of Russian-Kazakh state oil company KazRosGas.

Multiple people at the event tweeted images and videos of the performance on Twitter and Instagram:

SEE ALSO: Apple's new iPhones: The only 6 things you need to know

In 2012, Human Rights Watch accused Nazarbayev's government of a "harsh and unprecedented crackdown on freedom of expression and political plurality" by "imprisoning outspoken opposition and civil society activists."

Reported fee: Around $1 million

SEE ALSO: WATCH: Burning Man 2013, as captured by drones

In 2011, WikiLeaks shed light on several star-studded parties thrown by Hannibal and Mutassim Gadhafi, the sons of Moammar Gadhafi, the "mad dog of the Middle East" who ruled Libya for 42 years before he was overthrown and killed by his own people later that year.

One of those performers: Beyonce, who performed at a Gadhafi-funded New Year's Eve concert in St. Bart's in 2009. After the secret came out, she apologized and said she was donating the money to Haiti disaster relief.

SEE ALSO: WATCH: Lawrence O'Donnell awkwardly psychoanalyzes Anthony Weiner

Also guilty of taking the Gadhafis' cash: Usher, who said his fee from the same concert would go to "various human rights organizations," and Mariah Carey, who said she was "embarrassed to have participated" in a 2008 party on the same island.

Jennifer Lopez
Reported fee: $1.5 million

SEE ALSO: 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to

Earlier this summer, J-Lo sang "Happy Birthday" for Gurbanguly Berdymukhamedov, president of Turkmenistan, called "one of the world's most repressive countries" by Human Rights Watch.

The blowback from the concert caused her representative to issue a statement saying "had there been knowledge of human rights issues of any kind, Jennifer would not have attended." It's not clear if that also pertains to weddings she performed at previously in Uzbekistan and Azerbaijan.

SEE ALSO: The 10 best TV shows from the first half of 2013

Reported fee: More than $1.5 million

Sting got in trouble in 2010 when he performed at a concert organized by Gulnara Karimova, daughter of Uzbek President Islam Karimov, whose government has been accused of boiling dissidents alive.

SEE ALSO: Breaking Bad recap: The ticking time bomb

Afterwards, Sting refused to apologize. He said he was "well aware of the Uzbek president's appalling reputation in the field of human rights," but decided to play anyway because he believed "cultural boycotts are not only pointless gestures, they are counter-productive."

The singer has an estimated net worth of $290 million, making him the sixth-richest lead singer in rock.

SEE ALSO: You're using that dash wrong

Michael Jackson
Reported fee: $7 million

Sheik Abdulla bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the prince of Bahrain, got to see Michael Jackson perform in much closer quarters than a concert — but then found himself suing the singer for $7 million. Al Khalifa, who fancies himself a songwriter, claimed to have spent the money in 2008 building Jackson a studio, paying for an advance on a new album, and covering living expenses for a year, all for the privilege of working on songs together. But Jackson allegedly reneged on the agreement (the two eventually settled out of court).

SEE ALSO: The president's complicated Syria speech boiled down to 16 lines

The pop star had fled for Bahrain — a monarchy currently ranked "not free" by human rights organization Freedom House — after he was cleared of charges of molesting a 13-year-old boy in California. Al Khalifa reportedly wired Jackson $35,000 that year to pay the utility bills at Neverland Ranch, the source of $23.5 million in debt for the singer.

View this article on TheWeek.com Get 4 Free Issues of The Week

More from The Week:

Like The Week on Facebook - Follow The Week on Twitter - Sign-up for The Week's Daily Newsletter