Five Richest Rappers of 2015
Jay Z makes stacks and stacks off rap and cognac.
Photo by Sayre Berman
A man don't need to rap to be rich. Even if he is, in fact, a rapper. After all, in recent years, the world's wealthiest hip-hoppers, as tracked by Forbes Magazine , have been those homies with a flair for big business, like Diddy and Dr. Dre, who've basically retired from the game to focus on managing their investment portfolios and entrepreneurial endeavors rather than dropping new bangers.
It's been almost five years since Diddy's last solo studio album, Last Train to Paris, while his latest singles, “Big Homie” with Rick Ross and “I Want the Love” featuring Meek Mill, didn't even chart. As for Dre, he's been working on his next record for the last 16 years and it's still untitled.
Yet Diddy and Dre's bank account balances are creeping toward $1,000,000,000. So who needs a hit when you've got clothing lines, premium booze brands, cable TV channels, and music streaming services to sell?
Here are the richest rappers of 2015.
5. Birdman: $150 Million
The Cash Money Records mogul actually lost $10 million over the past 365 days. (Probably the result of publicly beefing with longtime label-making artist, Lil Wayne, who even sued and threatened to defect along with rap superstars Drake and Nicki Minaj, both signees to Weezy’s Young Money Entertainment imprint.) He was the fourth richest rapper of 2014. But Birdman’s dropped a notch.
4. 50 Cent: $155 Million
Since selling 12,000,000 copies of his 2000 major-label debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Curtis "50 Cent” Jackson’s music-related successes have been in steady decline. His 2014 album, Animal Ambition, has only moved 124,000 units. But hey, homie’s still counting cash, thanks mostly to his $100 million cut of Vitaminwater's sale to the Coca-Cola Company in 2007. His current hustles include SMS headphones and Effen vodka. Oh, and Frigo underwear. Yes, Fiddy is selling undies.
3. Jay Z: $550 Million
Yeah, yeah, yeah. Just over a month ago, Shawn “Jay Z” Carter stirred up all kinds of hype with his Tidal stunt, the relaunch of a Scandinavian streaming service that he'd bought and rebranded as “an artist-owned global music and entertaiment platform,” whose new proprietors include Carter and his wife, Beyoncé, as well as Alicia Keys, Arcade Fire's Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, Calvin Harris, Chris Martin, Daft Punk, Jack White, Jason Aldean, J. Cole, Kanye West, Deadmau5, Madonna, Nicki Minaj, Rihanna, and Usher.
But no one knows if Tidal's gonna be a big bomb or not. And Jay's real 2015 money is being minted by Roc Nation, his mega-tandem tour with Mrs. Carter, his back catalog, and his stake in the champagne game.
2. Dr. Dre: $700 Million
“The first billionaire in hip-hop, from the motherfucking West Coast,” Dr. Dre said last year, just after he and his main partner, record exec Jimmy Iovine, had completed the sale of Beats by Dre, the headphone line and streaming service, to Apple for $3 billion. But there was a problem: Dre only owned 25 percent and he forgot about the taxman. In the end, he made $500 million and increased his net worth to $700 million. So no, he isn’t a billionaire. And he’s not even the richest rapper of 2015.
1. Diddy: $700 Million
Two decades ago, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs was “All About the Benjamins.” These days, he's all about the millions. And soon, he's gonna be all about the billions. He made his benjamins off production and rap work with Notorious B.I.G. and Bad Boy Records in the '90s, but he's since turned his hundreds into $720 million with clothing lines Sean John and Enyce, his stake in Cîroc Vodka and DeLeón Tequila, and his ownership of cable TV channel Revolt. He's even dipping, along with actor Mark Wahlberg, into the bottled-water market with Aquahydrate. And now Diddy's insisting that, unlike the rap game, “the fragrance game needs me.”