Hip-Hop is the fastest growing music genre and boasts not only big names, but big incomes as well.
Many hip-hop artists have risen quickly to fame in recent years, while others have consistently built their wealth through acting, investments, and merchandising as much as music sales and touring.
Recently, Jay Z gained the official distinction of hip hop’s first billionaire, and the net worth of many others isn’t far behind.
2019 has seen interesting developments in the hip-hop industry, including a bunch of up-and-coming artists bucking not only the traditional norms, but the usual ways of making money.
From Chance the Rapper refusing to sign with any and all labels, to singers and songwriters becoming producers, investors, business owners, fashion designers, and product sponsors, all bets are off when it comes to amassing a fortune and lading on the richest rappers list.
Read on to find out who tops the list in total fortune, using their success, influence, and business decisions to reach billionaire status.
10. Lil Wayne
Born Dwayne Michael Carter Jr, in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1982, Lil Wayne joined Cash Money Records in 1991 as its youngest member.
Rapping from the age of 8, Lil Wayne won 4 Grammys in 2009 alone for singles like ‘Lollipop’ and ‘A Milli’.
Launching his solo career at age 16 in 1999 with Tha Block is Hot, Lil Wayne released several new albums alternated with underground mixtapes and previously unreleased work to build his $150 million dollar fortune.
9. Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson)
South Central LA native Ice Cube was born in 1969 and always had an interest in music and football.
Immediately following high school, where he’d started writing raps, he earned a two-year degree in drafting from Phoenix Institute of Technology in 1988.
Continuing with his musical interests, he and several other young rappers, including Dr Dre, DJ Yella, MC Ren, and Easy-E teamed up to form N.W.A. And helped found Gansta Rap as we know it.
He left in ‘89 to go solo, and then launched an acting career with the 1992 film Boys n the Hood, also starring in films such as Barbershop (2002) and xXx: State of the Union (2005).
This varied career has gained him the approximately $160 million dollars of net worth that got him on this list.
This American singer, songwriter, and artist has been a performer since his mother put him into singing competitions at the age of 12.
About 14 years later, he released his self-titled debut album, Usher, in 1994 and never looked back.
One of the few hip-hop artists to use his actual name, Usher Raymond IV has become one of the best-selling musical artists of all time, selling 75 million records and digital song copies worldwide.
All of this has directly contributed to his accumulated wealth of $180 million dollars.
Inarguably the most successful white rapper ever to exist, Marshall Bruce Mathers III had a rough childhood.
Struggling past parental abandonment, abuse, and neglect, Eminem started rapping when it was taboo for a Caucasian to do so.
Releasing his debut album, The Slim Shady LP in 1999, he used its success to accumulate 15 Grammy Awards and claw his way to the top of a $210 million dollar fortune.
Currently on his 2019 Rapture music tour, he’s sure to take in even more moolah and possibly rise higher on the list.
6. Master P
Following the hip-hop trend of branching out to make his money, Percy Robert Miller doesn’t just rap, he acts, produces, writes, and formerly played basketball.
All of this, combined with his entrepreneurial ventures, has contributed to his
$200-250 million dollar fortune.
Having formed and reformed No Limit Records into New No Limits and finally No Limit Forever Records, he’s also the CEO of P. Miller Enterprises. He also started GMGB, a co-ed basketball league.
5. Kanye Omari West
Though his ranking is debatable due to his supposedly massive debt, figures from the Richest place him at number five with a net worth of around $250 million dollars.
He’s not only a singer and songwriter, but a record producer and fashion designer.
Always in the spotlight and usually in a bit of controversy, Kanye went from a behind-the-scenes record producer to debuting his first album, College Dropout, in 2003–and never looked back.
From inscrutable tweets to unfiltered statements, Kanye loves the spotlight even if it’s a bit unflattering.
4. Russell Simmons
He may not be as well known in the new releases as some of the other names on this list, but American rap producer Russell Simmons certainly rakes in the dough.
By creating the fashion lines Tantris, Phat Farm, and Argyleculture, he spread his interests further than just music.
Though as chairman and CEO of Rush Records and Co-founder of Def Jam records, he’s certainly active in the music biz. His net worth clocks in at an impressive $340 million dollars.
3. Dr Dre
Getting his start in the rap group N.W.A., Andre Young started in the business by doing DJ work in his teens.
After co-founding Death Row Records in 1991, he went on to release his first solo album and hit success, The Chronic, which launched him into stardom.
Later, his startup label Aftermath Entertainment signed both Eminem and 50 Cent.
He also racked up a good bit of his $820 million net worth by selling ‘Beats by Dr Dre’, his headphone line, to Apple for $3 billion.
2. P Diddy (Sean Combs)
Formerly the richest rapper in the world, Harlem, New York-born Diddy doesn’t limit himself to just rapping.
He produces, songwrites, and acts, as well as being an entrepreneur.
Having gone by the names ‘Puff Daddy” and “P. Diddy,” he seems to love his multiple roles in the moneymaking world.
Now a close second to the top hip-hop artist in net worth, Diddy’s fame and fortune is nothing to sneeze at, clocking in at a cool $855 million.
1. Jay Z (Shawn Corey Carter)
Hailing from Brooklyn, New York, this smart investor, artist, and entrepreneur has amassed quite a fortune.
Turning to rap in his childhood to resist the call of drugs and violence, he joined the older rapper Jaz-O in 1989 to produce a musical debut that landed him on MTV.
Officially becoming the first billionaire in hip hop, Jay Z has built upon a long history of success to top the charts in net worth. His latest album, Everything is Love, produced with his wife Beyoncé, hit the market last year and helped propel him to the top.
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