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Diddy Leads Hip-Hop Top-Earners List

Nicki Minaj ranks fourth, making her the highest-paid woman

Sean 'Diddy' Combs
Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images
September 25, 2013 11:00 AM ET

Diddy was named hip-hop's richest artist last March, and he's still holding down the top spot. The Bad Boy Records founder leads Forbes' latest list of the highest paid hip-hop artists, raking in $50 million over the past 12 months with his label, vodka brand Ciroc, clothing line Sean Jean and forthcoming TV channel Revolt.

Diddy Tops List of Richest Hip-Hop Artists

Though Jay Z is selling his stake in the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center, the rapper still pulled in $43 million over the last year – good enough for the list's second spot. Live shows, partnerships with Armand de Brignac champagne and D'Ussé cognac and label and sports management firm Roc Nation have helped give Jay Z a hefty income. And of course, he picked up $5 million from Samsung and made his album Magna Carta Holy Grail platinum before its release.

Dr. Dre's Beats by Dre continues to pay out well for the rapper-producer; he pulled in $40 million last year, and Beats by Dre looks to expand into a streaming music service soon. Nicki Minaj rolled into the fourth spot with $29 million, making her the highest-paid woman in hip-hop. Her take was boosted by touring and music sales, a nice paycheck for judging American Idol and endorsement deals with companies like Pepsi. Cash Money honcho Birdman came in at Number Five with $21 million.

Rounding out Forbes' Top 10 are Kanye West with $20 million, Lil Wayne with $16 million, Wiz Khalifa with $14 million, Ludacris with $12 million and Pitbull with $11 million.

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Song Stories

“Try a Little Tenderness”

Otis Redding | 1966

This pop standard had been previously recorded by dozens of artists, including by Bing Crosby 33 years before Otis Redding, who usually wrote his own songs, cut it. It was actually Sam Cooke’s 1964 take, which Redding’s manager played for Otis, that inspired the initially reluctant singer to take on the song. Isaac Hayes, then working as Stax Records’ in-house producer, handled the arrangement, and Booker T. and the MG’s were the backing band. Redding’s soulful version begins quite slowly and tenderly itself before mounting into a rousing, almost religious “You’ve gotta hold her, squeeze her …” climax. “I did that damn song you told me to do,” Redding told his manager. “It’s a brand new song now.”

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