Forbes released its annual list of hip-hop “cash kings” today, and the No. 1 spot is occupied by Dr. Dre. The Doc earned $110 million in pre-tax earnings last year, thanks largely to a staggering $100 million in compensation from the handset maker HTC, which bought 51% of his Beats by Dr. Dre headphone company last year. Dre, by the way, hasn't released a solo album in 13 years, and “Detox” still doesn't have a firm release date. Now, we can see why he's not killing himself to work on it.
No. 2 on the list is P. Diddy, who brought in $45 mil, mainly through sales of his vodka Ciroc (“and Sprite on a private flight“). Jay-Z ranks at No. 3 with $38 million earned in 2011, and like Diddy and Dre, the majority of his earnings come from ownership stakes in companies, not album sales.
The rest of the Top 10:
4. Kanye West: $35 million
5. Lil Wayne: $27 million
6. Drake: $20.5 million
7. Birdman: $20 million
8. Nicki Minaj: $15.5 million
9. Eminem: $15 million
10. Ludacris: $12 million
One final note on the list: we featured Forbes' list of top-earning DJs a couple of weeks ago, and it seems that the EDM guys still have a good ways to go before reaching the rappers. The combined income of Tiesto, Skrillex, and Swedish House Mafia—the top 3 on that list—is $51 million, $142 million less than the rappers' top 3.
Still, I do think they're going to be okay.