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Forbes’s 5 Richest Hip-Hop Moguls: Or, Rappers and the Money that Loves Them

Thanks to Forbes Magazine, that steely bastion of in-depth economic news and fiduciary genital measurement, we can now resolve the age-old debate over who, in fact, is the ballin’-est player in the game.

This past week, Forbes published a list of the five richest hip-hop stars in the world. To the surprise of almost no one, those who made the list tended to have a significant behind-the-scenes presence, in addition to any mic-rocking or beat-laying activities. Also unsurprising are the multiple paeans to extravagant wealth produced by this crew, all of whom have more than a passing interest in letting the world know the exact dimensions and odors of their big, stinking piles of cash. Here are a few of the better tracks delivered to us by the muse of conspicuous consumption.


1. Diddy ($550 million)

Some would argue (me being a member of this “some”) that Sean “Diddy” Combs has a far greater talent as a businessman than as an MC. As evidence, I’d point both to the embarrassing allegations of ghost-writing that have dogged his albums and the $550 million sitting in the man’s bank account (or, more likely sitting in a highly diversified series of international investments, but whatever).

Quintessential money-hounding manifesto? “It’s All About the Benjamins”, duh.


2. Jay-Z ($460 million)

Curiously enough, Jay-Z’s biggest hits, while dropping ample references to his baller lifestyle, have tended toward thematic obsessions other than bank-breaking affluence. To the man’s credit, it has taken the influence of an increasingly status-conscious Kanye West to produce Jay-Z’s most ostentatious outing of the past few years, “N****s in Paris”.


3. Dr. Dre ($270 million)

The bulk of Dr. Dre’s wealth is the result of the recent sale of his Beats Electronics line of audio products. HTC’s purchase of the Beats Electronics brand landed $85 million in Dre’s hands, with another $100 million in stock options padding out the deal.

Perhaps it’s the calming influence of copious amounts chronic, but Dr. Dre has taken a less-than-ostentatious stance in regards to his growing bankroll. “The Watcher” offers a few clues as to Dre’s lifestyle luxuries, but even here, he focuses more on his reputation than anything else.


4. Birdman ($125 million)

As co-owner of Cash Money Records, Birdman draws from the collective piggy banks of such superstars as Nicki Minaj, Lil Wayne and DJ Khaled in order to form his personal fortune. For lyrical evidence of this wealth, you can pretty much drop the needle on any of the tracks from Birdman’s five LPs. “100 Million”, from 2007’s 5 * Stunna, seems an appropriate fit for the situation.


5. 50 Cent ($110 million)

Two words: Vitaminwater. Or, actually, I guess that’s one word. Weird.

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About the Author


Shane Danaher's affection for pop music has peppered his adult life with a variety of aesthetically rewarding and financially disastrous decisions. After moving to Portland, Oregon for college (because that's where he heard Modest Mouse was from) Shane has wound up participating in the music world in roles ranging from 'drummer' to 'promoter' to 'bathroom floor scrubber.' He has toured without money, written about almost every band ever to have come out of the Pacific Northwest, and one time traveled all the way to Los Angeles just to see a catch hip-hop show. He currently resides in Portland, where he writes about hip-hop, pop and rock music for a variety of publications. He still plays drums. He wants to meet Kanye West.

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Posted in: Featured, Hip Hop Music


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