Forbes reports: “Dr. Dre is still riding high from the sale of Beats, but with his lump sum payday in the rearview mirror, he cedes his cash crown to someone else. Read on to discover the 20 top-earning hip-hop acts in the world.”
1. Diddy – 60 Million
He rarely performs these days, but Diddy rakes in cash from the fruits of a reputation forged in music: TV network Revolt, clothing line Sean John, alkaline water brand Aquahydrate and Ciroc vodka, which brings in the bulk of his bucks. He’s also readying a new album, and enjoys being named No. 1. “You started learning how to count!” Diddy recently told FORBES.
2. Jay Z – 56 Million
His 22 shows with Beyoncé boosted the multifaceted mogul’s bottom line alongside moneymaking ventures like entertainment company Roc Nation and Armand de Brignac champagne. The impact of his new streaming service, Tidal remains to be seen. But regardless of its fate, he’s taken his business game to previously unimaginable heights
3. Drake – 39.5 Million
The Canadian import clocks the highest Cash Kings finish of his young career, thanks mostly to earnings on the road, where he played 50 dates during our scoring period with a nightly average gross of nearly $1 million. Also padding Drake’s coffers: gold-certified surprise record If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and endorsements for Sprite and Nike.
4. Dr. Dre – 33 Million
Selling Beats earned him $620 million last year, the top annual payday of any musician, ever. Despite a year-over-year drop of more than half a billion dollars, Dre makes the list thanks to smaller checks from Apple and his production catalogue. He also exec-produced biopic Straight Outta Compton and released his long-awaited third studio album.
5. Pharrell – 32 Million
The “Happy” singer is one of the more diversified performers on the list, clocking multimillion-dollar checks from touring, music and his role as a judge on The Voice. He also mingles his fashion sense with an entrepreneurial streak, as evidenced by his Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream clothing lines.
6. Eminem – 31 Million
The Detroit native’s six shows on last summer’s co-headlining Monster Tour with Rihanna averaged north of $5 million per show. Their pair of shows at Metlife Stadium grossed a total of $12.4 million, slightly more than Jay Z and Beyoncé tallied over two nights at the same venue
7. Kanye West – 22 Million
He didn’t crack the top five on this list, but Kanye may have had the biggest year of any hip-hop cash king. Among his highlights were a memorable Grammy performance, a new Adidas shoe launch and an announcement of intention to run for president in 2020. Does he really intend to give new meaning to the term West Wing? With Kanye, one can never say never.
8. Wiz Khalifa – 21.5 Million
Pittsburgh’s best-known rapper may have relocated to “Pixburg” (Los Angeles) but he continues to keep his hometown on the rap map. This year is his best yet, thanks to his Furious 7 duet “See You Again” and incessant touring—plus accompanying sales of his weed-themed merch. “It’s part of my personality,” he told FORBES. “It wasn’t conscious at first, but then when I saw how far it was going and I was like, ‘Why not?’”
9. Nicki Minaj – 21 Million
The world’s top-earning lady MC saw her earnings soar 50% over last year’s figure,mostly due to an uptick in touring. She also rakes in cash from endorsements with the likes of Pepsi and OPI—as well as her very own Myxx moscato, in which she holds a hefty equity stake and gets annual payouts as well.
10. Birdman – 18 Million
The Cash Money chief continues his steady earnings pace, collecting a cut of his label’s eight-figure profits along with his brother and cofounder, Ronald “Slim”Williams. But there seems to be trouble brewing at hip-hop’s top record company, with a public and allegedly violent, dispute with Lil Wayne, who recently released music through Jay Z’s Tidalstreaming.
11. Pitbull – 17 Million
Mr. International continues to live up to his nickname, playing 60 shows during our scoring period in countries ranging from Mexico to Japan to the United Kingdom to China. He also released Spanish-language album Dale in July; it peaked at No. 1 on the Billboard Latin Albums chart.
12. Lil Wayne – 15 Million
The diminutive rhymester’s tour bus got shot up earlier this year—by someone allegedly connected to his label boss —but that hasn’t stopped him from hitting the road hard, making millions on three dozen tour dates from coast to coast.
13. Kendrick Lamar – 12 Million
New album To Pimpa Butterfly was a dense, jazz-inflected record that denied fans singalong hits, yet still sold 324,000 copies in its first week. Still, he didn’t top last year’s $9 million total by all that much, partly due to a hesitation to endorse products. Said Lamar: “All money ain’t good money.”
14. J. Cole – 11 Million
The Born Sinner redeemed himself with a scorching surprise album, 2014 Forest Hills Drive, which debuted at No. 1 and sold 354,000 copies its first week. A budding mogul, Cole’s Dreamville imprint struck a distribution deal with Interscope Records. “It’s definitely a path that’s been made possible by the Dr. Dres and the Jay Zs,” he told FORBES last year.
15. Snoop Dogg – 10 Million
His Pharrell-produced new album Bush didn’t perform as well as hoped, debuting at No. 14 on the Billboard charts and selling 27,000 copies its opening week. But Snoop still earned double-digit millions on the strength of his touring schedule and brand endorsements.
16. Rick Ross – 9 Million
The corpulent rapper doesn’t tour as much as some of his other peers, but continues to make the Cash Kings list on the strength of outside business ventures such as his Wingstop franchises, something he’s wanted to do for nearly a decade. “I began having those thoughts every time I pulled up to the restaurant,” he told FORBES last year. “Like, ‘Yo! This is something I need to do.’”
17. Tech N9ne – 8.9 Million
The Kansas City rapper out-earned bigger names thanks to a staggering work ethic, playing 132 shows in our scoring period, the most of any hip-hop cash king. He also gets to keep more of the gross from shows and record sales because he owns his own touring and recording operations
18. Ludacris – 8 Million
Like fellow Cash King Wiz Khalifa, Ludacris has reaped major rewards from the success of Furious 7. In his case, the big payday came from acting inthe movie—a role that landed him millions. He also released new album Ludaversal in March; it peaked at No. 3 on the charts and sold 62,000 copies its opening week
19. T.I. – 6 Million
The Atlanta-born MC recently took his Grand Hustle label—and his own music—from Warner’s Atlantic to Sony’s Columbia.Paperwork, his first album released under the new arrangement, sold 80,000 copies its opening week. T.I. also pads his coffers with earnings from roles in movies including Get Hard and Ant-Man
20. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – 5.5 Million
The “Thrift Shop” duo nearly fell off the list after last year’s career-best $32 million total, dialing down its touring schedule to record a new album, staying on thanks to a handful of lucrative festival dates at the beginning of our scoring period. If the success of “Downtown” is any indication, look for a return to financial glory in 2016.