Diddy, Jay Z Top Highest-Paid Rappers of 2015 - Rolling Stone
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Diddy, Jay Z Top Highest-Paid Rappers of 2015

Drake, Dr. Dre and Pharrell round out Forbes’ top five “Hip-Hop Cash Kings” of past year

Diddy; Jay-ZDiddy; Jay-Z

Diddy and Jay Z topped a recent poll of hip-hop's biggest earners of the past year

Larry Busacca/Getty; Joseph Okpako/Getty

Diddy, Jay Z, Drake, Dr. Dre and Pharrell are the world’s five “Highest Paid Rap Acts” of 2015, according to Forbes‘ latest hip-hop cash round-up. Diddy, ranking Number One, reportedly earned $60 million in the past year from a variety of investments: Ciroc vodka, water brand AQUAhydrate, Revolt TV and clothing line Sean John. 

Jay Z brought in $56 million, with Forbes citing three key income streams: entertainment company Roc Nation, recently acquired luxury champagne brand Armand de Brignac and 22 concerts alongside wife Beyoncé. Following at Number Three is Drake at $39.5 million, his highest ranking yet on the “Cash Kings” list. The rapper grossed an average of nearly $1 million per show across 50 tour dates, bringing up the bottom line with his surprise gold LP If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late and endorsement deals with Nike and Sprite. 

Dr. Dre dominated last year’s list with $620 million, the highest entertainer total ever recorded by Forbes, following Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats. In 2015, he ranks at Number Four with a more modest $33 million, with the publication citing his executive-produced NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton and long-awaited comeback LP. Rounding out the Top Five at $32 million is Pharrell Williams, whose diverse 2015 has included music production, tours, coaching on The Voice and work with clothing lines Billionaire Boys Club and Ice Cream. 

The bottom half of the top 10 includes Eminem ($31 million), Kanye West ($22 million), Wiz Khalifa ($21.5 million), Nicki Minaj ($21 million) and Birdman ($18 million). 

Forbes generates their annual list by considering “pretax income from touring, record sales, streaming, publishing, merchandise sales, endorsements and other business ventures.” The earnings are calculated from June 2014 to June 2015, using data from “Nielsen SoundScan, Pollstar, the RIAA and from interviews with managers, lawyers, executives and a handful of the artists themselves.”


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