Watch the Throne Indeed: Who Are Hip-Hop’s Top Money Makers?

  • Share
  • Read Later
Jason DeCrow / File / AP

Kanye West, left, makes a guest appearance as Jay-Z performs at Yankee Stadium in New York.

One of the many things rap has taught us is that it’s All About the Benjamins. Now we have the financial data to back it up.

Forbes magazine — the discerning choice of any ambitious musician — has revealed that Jay-Z has been crowned the number-one hip-hop earner for the fourth time in five years. Jay (real name Shawn Carter) amassed a highly impressive $37 million over the past year, thanks to that long-term Live Nation deal (worth $150M) , as well as interests in the New Jersey Nets basketball team, the 40/40 Club chain and advertising firm Translation, among others. It’s also worth pointing out (though not at their home) that it’s the first time he’s out-earned wife Beyonce since they got married in 2008.

It’s been a good week for Jay-Z: not only in the sense that he came out on top here, but his Watch the Throne album dropped with collaborator Kanye West. But Mr. West need not be disappointed either, considering that he came in third, with $16 million (he hasn’t been in this high a position since 2009.) Coming between them is Sean “Diddy” Combs, who racked up $35 million. Forbes points out that music accounts for less than 20% of his earnings nowadays, but his record label Bad Boy presumably helps pay the bills, as does his stake in clothing lines Sean John and Enyce, as well as a deal with Ciroc vodka.

(LIST: Top 10 Musical Collaborations)

Rounding out the top five: Dwayne “Lil Wayne” Carter with $15 million, which is highly impressive considering he spent eight months in jail last year. And that’s exactly the same amount as Cash Money boss Bryan “Birdman” Williams made. Forbes ruled him out in previous years because they felt he was more an executive rather than artist. What changed? Well, not so much “Birdman” but his peers as the magazine rightly views them as having a similar job description when you take into account all their varied interests.

As for the rest of the top 10, it should be no surprise to see those usual suspects Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and Dr. Dre safely ensconced, along with Akon and Ludacris who, of course, is as likely to pop up in a movie as on a record. These days, it seems, if you want to be about the Benjamins, you can’t just be all about the music. (via Forbes)

PHOTOS: A Look at Sean Combs’ Career

Glen Levy is an Executive Producer at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @glenjl. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.