Who makes the most money in hip-hop?
It’s a fraught question, and one that comes up frequently in rap lyrics — Drake, for example, raps in his song “5 AM in Toronto,” “I made the Forbes list, n—a/F— your list, everything’s lookin’ gorgeous.” Today, Forbes is ready to set the record straight by publishing its list of Hip-Hop Cash Kings, compiled from “pretax earnings for living artists whose work is primarily classified as hip-hop or rap.” Earnings include “income from touring, record sales, publishing, merchandise sales, endorsements and other ventures.”
Not surprisingly, Dr. Dre is in first place by a large margin. He’s still riding high from the sale of Beats Music to Apple, which earned him $620 million. This represents not only “the highest yearly earnings total of any musician ever evaluated by Forbes,” but also more money than the earnings of every other rapper on the Forbes list added together.
Following Dre, there’s a two-way tie for second place between a couple of East Coast hip-hop moguls: Jay Z and Diddy, who both pulled down $60 million. Drake comes in fourth with $33 million. Relative newcomers Macklemore & Ryan Lewis round out the top five, right behind Drake ($32 million).
Other notable figures appear on the list as well: Pharrell is in ninth place, though he’s more into singing these days. Producer Swizz Beatz made $8 million, good enough for No. 16 on the list. This is especially impressive considering he didn’t tour this year. Nicki Minaj, holding down the 11th spot with $14 million, is the only woman on the list. With a new album coming in November, she might be able to climb a few spots next year.
Aside from displaying the glaring gender disparity present in hip-hop, the other lesson of the list is clear: Don’t forget about Dre.