March 14, 2011 – Forbes recently released their list of the top 5 wealthiest Hip Hop artists. Amazingly, Diddy tops the list, beating out Jay-Z and 50 Cent. Diddy just won’t stop. The best thing that ever happened to Diddy was Biggie. However, Diddy took that exposure further and built a huge empire and brand. Regardless of what you think of the man, you have to admire his work ethic. The Forbes list was formed using the same procedures used to form the list of the world’s top billionaires – valuing current holdings, looking at past earnings, leafing through financial documents and talking to a bevy of analysts, attorneys, managers and other industry players to find the nitty-gritty details.
The top spot goes to Sean “Diddy” Combs, who tops our accounting of rap’s richest with a fortune of $475 million, fueled by his interests in Sean John clothing, Bad Boy Worldwide record label and, most significantly, his Diageo joint-venture vodka brand Ciroc. Jay-Z ranks a close second, with $450 million.
Superproducer/rapper Dr. Dre ranks third with $125 million, fueled by past earnings generated from his own career and by helping to launch those of Snoop Dogg and Eminem. Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, a onetime Dr. Dre protege who reaped a nine-figure payday from the sale of Vitamin Water to Coca-Cola, rounds out the top five in a tie with Cash Money Records cofounder Bryan “Birdman” Williams at $100 million.
Though other hip-hop artists including Lil Wayne, Pharrell Williams, Rick Ross and others — not to mention pop sensation Bruno Mars, who penned Travie McCoy’s hit song “Billionaire” — frequently speak of ten-figure desires, we kept our list to five because of the lack of information available on the fortunes under $100 million.