You've read about the $150 million deal with Live Nation, bought the hit American Gangster album and gone to see the smash, sold-out tour with Mary J. Blige. Given his mountain of coin, Jay-Z must be sitting securely at #1 on Forbes magazine's 2008 list of "Hip-Hop Cash Kings," right?
Not if 50 Cent has anything to do with it. According to the magazine, after topping the list in 2007, Jigga dropped down to #2 this year behind 50, who hauled in $150 million over the past 12 months, nearly twice as much as Jay ($82 million) made in that same period.
A huge chunk of that ($100 million after taxes) came from the sale of 50's stake in VitaminWater, but he also raked in millions from his G-Unit clothing line and record label, his movie projects, video games and sales of Curtis. He could be primed for a repeat next year as well, if his joint venture with South African mining billionaire Patrice Motsepe pans out and produces the expected 50 Cent-branded line of platinum bling.
For the second year in a row, the man who has made a career out of diversifying his portfolio, Sean "Diddy" Combs, came in third on the list, pulling down $35 million from his Sean John clothing line, Bad Boy label, premium Ciroc vodka and a pair of reality shows.
You can bet that the man in the #4 slot isn't happy about being out of medal contention when it comes to what Forbes refers to as "hip-hopreneurs." But Kanye West, no slouch at $30 million, can still have the satisfaction of beating 50 in the record stores and at the Grammys, even if his album sales, production and tour grosses didn't get him into the top three this time out.
One of the busiest men in hip-hop, rapper/mega-producer (and
Chris Cornell's new best friend) Timbaland, who is working on tracks for Jay-Z's next record, slid into #5 on $22 million, just ahead of another superstar performer/producer, Pharrell Williams, who banked $20 million thanks to album sales, production fees, touring, his Ice Cream and Billionaire Boys Club clothing lines, and a line of Louis Vuitton sunglasses. Just behind him was yet another producer/performer: Swizz Beatz scooped up $17 million thanks to his debut solo album, One Man Band Man, [as well as his work as a model for Gap, a cut of the hip toy company Kidrobot and production fees.
And for a guy who seems to have his hand in every aspect of the business, down to a line of clothes for dogs and a reality TV show, it's a bit surprising that Snoop Dogg came in at #8 with $16 million. He was followed by his former mentor, Dr. Dre, who cooked up $15 million mostly composed of royalties from nearly 20 years of producing and appearing on albums, according to Forbes.
The rest of the list includes Ludacris (#10, $14 million), T.I. and Lil Wayne (#11, $13 million), Eminem, Common and Akon (#12, $12 million), Jermaine Dupri and Lil Jon (#13, $11 million) and Outkast, Game and Chamillionaire (#14, $10 million).
In keeping with his status as the Elvis of hip-hop, Tupac Shakur, who was murdered in 1996, continued to ring up serious numbers with $15 million in income.