The five richest rappers of 2019 have a combined wealth of more than $2.9 billion, nearly half that belongs to Jay-Z. All five rappers on Forbes’ latest list are men, ranging in age from 32 to 54.
In addition to being artists, the lyricists also have lucrative business and real estate dealings, including clothing lines, liquor brands and numerous other products.
To compile its ranking of the richest rappers, Forbes used the same procedures employed in the calculation of its annual billionaires list: poring over financial documents, valuing major assets, and consulting with analysts, managers, attorneys and other industry insiders.
Here are the five wealthiest rappers:
No. 5: Drake — $150 million
The 32-year-old Canadian is the youngest rapper on the list. His wealth grew 50% over the past year, Forbes reported, “boosted by holdings ranging from real estate to his Virginia Black whiskey, as well as a lucrative tour and new residency at the XS Nightclub in Las Vegas.”
No. 4: Kanye West — $240 million
In addition to his music, West can credit Adidas and his Yeezy shoe line with landing him on Forbes’ list. “Our accounting of West’s wealth is almost entirely predicated on a conservative estimate of that brand’s value,” Forbes wrote.
No. 3: Diddy — $740 million
Diddy drops to No. 3 this year as some of his holdings — cable network Revolt and his Sean John clothing line (he still holds a stake in the company) — lose money. “I’ve always understood that if I give the customers my best and service them differently, whether music, clothing or vodka, I’ll get a return on my hard work,” he told Forbes. His investment in Ciroc vodka is providing the biggest return right now, Forbes said.
No. 2: Dr. Dre — $800 million
Dr. Dre declared himself a billionaire in 2013, but Forbes has yet to do so. “Even with the vesting of his final slug of Apple stock last summer, Dre hasn’t quite made it into billionaire territory,” Forbes wrote. “He has spent heavily over the years on property (he paid $40 million for Tom Brady and Gisele Bundchen’s Los Angeles estate) and charitable donations (along with Beats cofounder Jimmy Iovine, he gave $70 million to start a school at USC).”
No. 1: Jay-Z — $1 billion
With a $1 billion fortune, Jay-Z is officially the first hip-hop artist to become a billionaire, according to Forbes.
The 49-year-old father of three has amassed his income through investments in art, entertainment, real estate — he has properties in Los Angeles and New York — liquor — he owns Armand de Brignac — and his own music catalog. Jay-Z is now hip hop’s first billionaire, according to Forbes, If you combine his wealth with that of his wife Beyoncé, the family is worth $1.4 billion.
“To convince artists that you can’t be an artist and make money … was the greatest trick in music that people ever pulled off,” Jay-Z told Forbes in 2010. “I think the people that were making the millions said that.”