The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop’s Wealthiest Artists 2016
Drake once said he planned to make $250 million by the time he was 29. With less than a year left before he turns 30, he’s still got a ways to go. But the Toronto native is certainly on the right track: This year, he’s the first newcomer to crack the Forbes Five.
For years, our list of hip-hop’s wealthiest artists has been composed of the same five figures: Birdman, Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay Z and 50 Cent. But the last spent his $100 million Vitaminwater windfall faster than we thought, and last summer’s bankruptcy filing knocked him off the list. Enter Drake—flush with cash from touring, music and deals with the likes of Nike, Sprite and Apple—at No. 5, with a net worth of $60 million.
“That’s pretty much my objective every year,” Drake once said of having his financial achievements acknowledged by FORBES. “Other than making good music.”
Still, it could take decades for Drake to ascend to the heights occupied by this year’s king: Diddy, who boasts a staggering fortune of $750 million, up slightly from last year.
The bulk of his bucks come from his agreement with Diageo’s Ciroc vodka; adding to his total are stakes in his TV network Revolt, clothing line Sean John, record label Bad Boy, tequila Deleon and alkaline water Aquahydrate.
Coming in a close second is Dr. Dre at $710 million, also up a tick from 2015. Two years ago, the superproducer’s Beats By Dr. Dre sale got him the largest one-off payday of any living musician in history, and last year’s biopic Straight Outta Compton padded his coffers too. He now sits on a nine-figure cash stash—and a jaw-dropping portfolio of Southern California real estate—that even a billionaire would envy.
As DJ Khaled once put it to FORBES: “It’s safe to say headphones is a good business.”
Jay Z ranks third in the race to $1 billion; his net worth now stands at $610 million. The Brooklyn-born rapper boasts a broad range of holdings, but it’s his Tidal streaming service that made him this year’s biggest gainer on paper. The company has had its bumps, but with 3 million paid subscribers, it’s now worth an estimated three times more than its $56 million purchase price.
Cash Money chief Birdman ranks fourth with $110 million, down a tick from last year due to turmoil within his empire. Flagship artist Lil Wayne has slowed his once-frenetic release pace; rumors of his departure, along with fellow top acts Drake and Nicki Minaj, continue to swirl. That said, Drake’s latest album, Views, dropped just days ago via a smorgasbord of labels including Cash Money/Young Money, and a source close to the company says all three have multiple records left on their deals.
To compile the Forbes Five list, we follow the same procedures used to calculate our list of the world’s billionaires: looking at past earnings, valuing current holdings, leafing through real estate records and talking to analysts, attorneys, managers, venture capitalists and some of the moguls themselves to find the details.
One of these days, a member of our list is likely to become hip-hop’s first billionaire. Diddy certainly wouldn’t mind if it’s him.
“I’d be blessed to be a billionaire,” he told FORBES in 2013. “Hopefully someday it’ll come true and I’ll be able to do some good with it.”
Diddy tops this year’s list of the world’s richest rap stars.