Back in the day when I was rocking my Lee jeans and shell toe Adidas and spinning windmills at house parties, my mind could never fathom that the genre of music that I thought belonged to my generation exclusively would grow to dominate and influence the world, much less be mentioned in Forbes. But it has done just that; despite Gulf Coast oil spills, an on-going war, a wretched global economy and changes within the music industry that have permanently altered the way business is done and new artists are handled, hip-hop is a juggernaut that can not be stopped.
On August 17, Forbes.com released its annual “Hip-Hop’s Cash Kings” list. Brooklyn-born rap mogul Jay-Z (Shawn Carter) was ranked number one raking in $63 million over the past year. Well, it seems that the foundation of “The Roc” was built on moola. But despite having the bragging rights of being hip-hop’s top earner, Mr. Carter is still not the bread winner in his household. That honor goes to his wife Beyonce who pulled in a hefty $87 million, now that is bringing home the bacon. Harlem native Diddy came in at second earning $30 million.
The secret to their earning ability does not just lie in their lyrical savvy. Creating a brand that has several streams of revenue is what keeps these artists from being one-note. For instance, Jigga co-owns the 40/40 nightclub chain and is part owner of the New Jersey Nets franchise. He is also serves as co-brand director for Budweiser Select and is one of the producers for the Tony award- winning Broadway musical Fela!
Rounding out the top five were Akon with $21 million, Lil Wayne with $20 million and Dr. Dre with $17 million. Hip-hop beef maker 50 Cent also appeared on the list at number fourteen grossing $8 million. View the complete list at Forbes.com.