Jay-Z reigns supreme on Forbes magazine's latest edition of its "Hip-Hop Cash Kings" list, which ranks the estimated earnings of hip-hop's biggest stars over the past year. The rapper dwarfed his competition with $63 million earned over the last 12 months, according to the list released today (Aug. 17).
Sean "Diddy" Combs came in second with a gross of $30 million, while Akon racked up $21 million this year to earn third place. The top 20 artists on the "Cash Kings" list accumulated about $300 million in earnings, which is an average of $15 million per person and a comparable figure to last year's list.
Because of declining album sales, most of the list's top earners have mixed microphone skills with business smarts. Forbes attributes Jay-Z's fortune to the September release of "The Blueprint 3" and his subsequent world tour, as well as non-musical endeavors like his 40/40 nightclub chain and stake in the NBA's New Jersey Nets. Meanwhile, Diddy's Diageo vodka Ciroc, his Diddybeats earbud headphones and TV/film roles helped him land at No. 2 despite not releasing a new album or prominently touring last year.
Akon's Konvict Clothing label and Kon Live imprint (which houses Lady Gaga, among other artists) helped him thrive this year, while Drake ranked as the list's biggest newcomer with $9 million earned, good enough for a No. 11 rank.
Kanye West, on the other hand, took a relative tumble from $25 million last year to $12 million this year while taking a break from touring. 50 Cent, who topped the 2008 list with $150 million thanks to his VitaminWater windfall, clocked in at $8 million this year due to a heavier concentration on film projects.
According to Forbes, Jay-Z earned more than frequent collaborators Lil' Wayne, Drake and Kanye West combined this year. However, the rapper's $63 million gross does not make him the main bread-winner in his household -- his wife, Beyoncé, earned $87 million this year, according to the magazine's Top-Earning Musicians list.