If you’re thinking of quitting your day job to pursue something more lucrative, consider hip hop. It’s an area of work that calls for its craftsmen (or craftswomen) to gloat about their money almost as much as it does for them to, you know, actually earn it. Ever since Big Bank Hank of The Sugarhill Gang first bragged about owning a color television on “Rapper’s Delight,” the career and the C.R.E.A.M. have gone hand-in-hand.
Obviously, times have changed since 1979, and artists make WAY more money than they used to (rappers are on color TV now.) To give a good indicator of just how much money an upper echelon hip hop artist can pull in, Forbes just released their 2015 Hip Hop Cash Kings list, ranking the 20 biggest salaries this year. These guys are so money, they don’t even know how money they are.
Here are the top five:
Take that, rappers. Right at the top of the list, Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs demonstrates that you don’t need to be a real performer who’s released anything memorable in the last decade to make the big bucks. The Bad Boy Records founder got started signing artists and hijacking their songs, before pursuing a mediocre solo career of his own. Ultimately his other business ventures, like Sean Jean clothing, Ciroc vodka, and Revolt TV made him the man he is today, supplying enough him with enough streams of income to net him $60 million in 2015.
He hasn’t dropped an album in two years, and the only time we hear him rap anymore is over his wife’s (FUCKING AMAZING, MOSTLY) music. Heck, the guy was a more active rapper when he was “retired.” Still, he took a page out of Diddy’s playbook and diversified his income stream, and as a result, has dabbled in fashion (Rocawear), spirits (D’ussé cognac), and even sports management. However, most of the $56 million he made this year was dragged in from last year’s huge On The Run Tour with Bey. I think it’s safe to assume that “money” also does not make the shortlist of Shawn Carter’s problems.
This year is The Kid’s biggest on record, as he’s pulled in just shy of $40 million so far. He earns most of his money on the road, where he allegedly grosses around $1 million per night. Drake really wasn’t kidding when he said “On the road, I do One Direction numbers“. Oh yeah, he also happened to release two of the biggest rap albums of 2015: last week’s surprise Future collaboration, What A Time To Be Alive, and the best-selling digital body of work this year, If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late.
This year the D-R-E signed more deals with Apple, including his own radio show on Beats 1, Apple Music’s online radio service (which bears the name of the Dr.’s former headphone brand), and the exclusive rights to sell Compton, his first album in over 15 years. Straight Outta Compton hasn’t been doing so shabby at the box offices, either. If you’ve seen Forbes’ Hip Hop Cash Kings before, you know that Dre is no stranger to the list (he topped it last year.) Or, did you think motherfuckers forgot about Dre?
One of the most diversified guys on the list, Pharrell records, uh, “popular” music, produces just about all the songs, and is no stranger to network television. He also has a couple of fashion lines — remember Ice Creams? He just missed Dr. Dre’s #4 spot on the list, and it’s too bad, because Pharrell is the nicest guy around. You’d think $32 million would go to someone’s head pretty quickly, but not Skateboard P: the guy is about to donate 50,000 books to children from low-income families across the country, in order to raise the literacy rate. Aw! And he also loves weird hats, adorable!
So, yeah, it’s safe to say these guys are married to the money (and ain’t never letting go.) Check out the artists that rounded out the top 10 below. And remember, kids — diversify!
1. Diddy – $60 million
2. Jay Z – $56 million
3. Drake – $39.5 million
4. Dr. Dre – $33 million
5. Pharrell – $32 million
6. Eminem – $31 million
7. Kanye West – $22 million
8. Wiz Khalifa – $21.5 million
9. Nicki Minaj – $21 million
10. Birdman – $18 million