Forbes’ Top Earning Hip-Hop Stars: A Numerical Analysis


From authors to celebrities, it seems Forbes is always publishing some new list of who’s making an obscene amount of money. Today, they’ve brought us the “Cash Kings of 2011: Hip-Hop’s Top 20 Earners.” For music-industry nerds, it’s a fascinating list. The big take-home, as far as we can tell, is that a hit album doesn’t have nearly as much to do with a rapper’s earning potential as what else he’s doing — producing and endorsing products are big, and three of this year’s top five earners are also moguls. Check out the full list, and our numerical analysis by gender, age, race, and more, after the jump.

Is it lonely at the top, Hova?

The list: 1. Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, $37 million 2. Sean “Diddy” Combs, $35 million 3. Kanye West, $16 million 4. Dwayne “Lil’ Wayne” Carter and Bryan “Birdman” Williams, $15 million 6. Marshall “Eminem” Mathers, Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, and Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus, $14 million 9. Aliuane “Akon” Thiam, $13 million 10. Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges, $12 million 11. Cameron “Wiz Khalifa” Thomaz and Aubrey “Drake” Graham, $11 million 13. Pharrell Williams, $10 million 14. Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley, $7 million 15. Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean and Onika “Nicki Minaj” Maraj, $6.5 million 17. William “Rick Ross” Roberts, Armando “Pitbull” Perez, and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, $6 million 20. Faheem “T-Pain” Najm, Bobby “B.o.B.” Simmons Jr., $5 million

Times remain tough for female rappers — Nicki Minaj is the only lady to make this list.

By gender: Male: 20 Female: 1

Swizz Beatz, the son of a Puerto Rican Christian mother and an African-American Muslim father, is one of several multiracial hip-hop stars in this year’s top 20.

By race: Black: 15 Multiracial: 4 White: 1 Latino:1

At 22, B.o.B. is the youngest rapper to make the list.

By age: Under 30: 6 30-40: 10 Over 40: 5

Dr. Dre hasn’t released a studio album since 1999’s 2001. But if the thousands of them we see on the subway are indication, his Beats by Dr. Dre headphones are mighty popular…

By who released an album in the past 12 months: Did: 8 Didn’t: 13