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.

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