Though his long-awaited record Detox is still, well, awaited, Dre’s cash flow has skyrocketed thanks to his best selling Beats by Dr. Dre headphones, which now account for more than half of the country’s premium headphones sales (priced $100 and up). Dre received a huge windfall last year, collecting $100 million of the $300 million HTC paid to acquire a 51 percent stake in the company.
Following Dre is another hip-hop mogul who’s making most of his money outside the studio: Diddy, whose $45 million comes mostly from his share of profits from Diageo’s Ciroc vodka.
Even third-place finisher Jay-Z – a more frequent visitor to the vocal booth these days – pulled in more than half his $38 million from outside ventures including his ownership stakes in the Brooklyn Nets, the cosmetics company Carol’s Daughter and a joint venture with battery maker Duracell.
Coming in fourth is Kanye West, whose $35 million comes largely from Watch the Throne and the massive tour that followed. Lil Wayne rounds out the top five with $27 million: Though he can still push records (Tha Carter IV sold a million in its first week), Weezy also launched a clothing line, Trukfit, and partnered with Mountain Dew for the first major product endorsement in his career.
Also popping up on the list are newcomers Drake and Nicki Minaj (numbers six and eight, respectively, with $20.5 and $15.5 million) who’ve scored album and tour successes, along with endorsements by companies like Kodak and Pepsi. Eminem, who landed at number nine, was one of the few artists who raked in millions on music alone, thanks primarily to his large back catalog and the occasional tour.
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“We work so hard that we never get a real chance to stop and reflect on what we’ve done sometimes,” said 10th-place finisher Ludacris, whose $12 million comes from music, movies, Conjure cognac, a new headphone line Soul and more. “So the Forbes list is a great representation of, ‘You know what, wow, we are out here working as hard as hell!'”