NEW YORK (Hypebot) – Hip-hop has been synonymous with entrepreneurship since its inception – from the 70s and 80s with pioneers like Jazzy Jay and Grandmaster Flash laying the foundation to what would become a massive worldwide phenomenon, to today’s hip-hop moguls whose influence can be felt in countless consumer products and all across pop culture. It comes as no surprise then, nor could it be any more fitting, that today’s top earning hip-hop stars continue the tradition of entrepreneurship to witness extraordinary high yearly earnings.
Topping Forbes’ list of the top cash kings in hip-hop was Dr. Dre, and anyone who’s ever walked down a city street for more than five minutes can guess why. With $110 million in pretax earnings, Dre soars past the others on the list by earning the bulk of his income from his deal with Jimmy Iovine and the Beats by Dre line of headphones. While his Detox album is still yet to be released, he continues to see royalties from The Chronic and 2001, as well as past projects and production credits.
At $45 million in pretax earnings, Sean “Diddy” Combs continues to kick it comfortably among music’s highest earners, thanks largely in part to a share of profits from Diageo’s Ciroc vodka. Right behind Combs is Jay-Z, who saw more than half of his annual income from non-music ventures including ownership stakes in the cosmetics companies Carol’s Daughter, the Brooklyn Nets and a joint venture with battery maker Duracell. Jay-Z’s Budweiser-sponsored Made In America event last weekend in Philadelphia also brought in $38 million.
Kayne West comes in fourth place with $35 million in pretax earnings, stemming largely from his Watch the Throne album with Jay-Z and the massive tour that came to support it. Lil Wayne follows behind West at $27 million. While his latest album, Tha Carter IV, sold one million copies during the first week of its release, the rapper has also seen income from his new clothing line Trukfit and partnership with Mountain Dew. Wayne is joined up in the ranks by labelmates Drake and Nicki Minaj, who earned $20.5 million and $15.5 million respectively – stemming largely form their new albums, huge tours and product endorsements with Kodak and Pepsi. Cash Money co-founder Bryan “Birdman” Williams rests comfortably between Drake and Minaj at seventh on the list $20 million in pretax earning
This year’s top 20 earners in hip-hop (complete list below) brought in a combined $415 million, stemming largely from leveraging their personal brands and their audience demographics for major product endorsement deals. Touring also continues to be a large factor, as it is for musicians of any genre nowadays. At the end of the day, the entrepreneurial spirit that brought hip-hop to prominence over the past three decades continues to flow through these cash kings and queens.
The 20 Richest Hip-hop Stars:
1. Dr. Dre @ $110 million
2. Diddy @ $45 million
3. Jay-Z @ $38 million
4. Kanye West @ $35 million
5. Lil Wayne @ $27 million
6. Drake @ $20.5 million
7. Bryan "Birdman" Williams @ $20 million
8. Nicki Minaj @ $15.5 million
9. Eminem @ $15 million
10. Ludacris @ $12 million
11. Pitbull @ $9.5 million
12. Rick Ross @ $9 million (tied)
12. Wiz Khalifa @ $9 million (tied)
14. Snoop Lion @ $8.5 million
15. 50 Cent @ $7.5 million
16. Swizz Beatz @ $7 million (tied)
16. Pharrell Williams @ $7 million (tied)
16. Young Jeezy @ $7 million (tied)
19. Mac Miller @ $6.5 million
20. Akon @ $6 million (tied)
20. Timbaland @ $6 million (tied)
20. Tech N9ne @ $6 million (tied)