Earlier this week, Forbes released its annual breakdown of "Hip-Hop Cash Kings"—the highest-paid rap artists of the last year. It's an interesting calculation for many reasons, including the revelations that Pitbull made more than Drake, that both Nicki Minaj and Avicii brought in more than Kanye, and that the top 20 spots contain five white guys, one of whose names rhymes with Tacklebore.

Last year, Dr. Dre finished first ($110 million), but that astronomical figure included a nine-figure one-time payout from selling part of his headphone company. This year, he's third with a paltry $40 million. Meanwhile, Diddy, who'd dismissed Forbes estimates in the past, now seems OK with math that has him ranked as the world's highest-paid rap star, at a $50 million intake. Eminem didn't do shit last year and still brought in $10 million, thanks to his back catalogue, and Kendrick Lamar ($9 million) is kind of a baller.

For transparency's sake, here is Forbes' methodology:

The Cash Kings list tracks pretax earnings for all living artists whose work is primarily classified as hip-hop or rap. To form the list, we looked at income from touring, record sales, publishing, merchandise sales, endorsements and other ventures. Management, agent and attorney fees are not deducted. Earnings are tabulated from June 2012 to June 2013 and based on data from Pollstar, the Recording Industry Association of America and Nielsen SoundScan, and from interviews with numerous managers, lawyers, record executives and some of the artists themselves.

What's really fascinating here is where rap stars fall in the entertainment industry's pay-scale pantheon, according to Forbes' own metrics. Compared with their calculations of the same period of June 2012 and June 2013, a few deductions:

Some individual observations:

  • Scottish DJ/producer and Rihanna collaborator Calvin Harris ($46 million) made more than Jay Z ($43 million)? Sounds absurd, but Josh Eells's mind-blowing New Yorker piece on Vegas's E.D.M. bubble shows how that's possible.
  • Diddy ($50 million) pulled in more last year than the Rock ($46 million), Leonardo DiCaprio ($39 million), Angelina Jolie ($33 million), and Denzel Washington ($33 million).
  • American Idol judge Nicki Minaj ($29 million) made only four million less than Angelina ($33 million), but three million more than Jennifer Lawrence ($26 million).
  • Faux-trash white-boy emcee Mac Miller ($6 million) lugged home more moneybags then Kate Moss ($5.7 million).

Lastly, you ask, what in the fuck is Tech N9ne ($7.5 million)? A grinding Kansas City underground rhyme-spitter who sings about areolas and did a breakneck tour of 90 dates in 90 days last year. Get acquainted.


1. Diddy ($50 million)
2. Jay Z ($43 million)
3. Dr. Dre ($40 million)
4. Nicki Minaj ($29 million)
5. Birdman ($21 million)
6. Kanye West ($20 million)
7. Lil Wayne ($16 million)
8. Wiz Khalifa ($14 million)
9. Ludacris ($12 million)
10. Pitbull ($11 million)
11. Drake ($10.5 million)
12. Snoop Lion ($10 million, tie)
12. Eminem ($10 million, tie)
14. Kendrick Lamar ($9 million, tie) playing over 100 shows
14. Pharrell Williams ($9 million, tie)
14. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis ($9 million, tie)
17. Swizz Beatz ($8.5 million)
18. Tech N9ne ($7.5 million)
19. 50 Cent ($7 million)
20. Lil Jon ($6 million, tie)
20. Rick Ross ($6 million, tie)
20. Mac Miller ($6 million, tie)
20. Young Jeezy ($6 million, tie)
20. Questlove ($6 million, tie)


1. Dr. Dre ($110 million)
2. Diddy ($45 million)
3. Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter ($38 million)
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)
11. Pitbull ($9.5 million)
12. Rick Ross ($9 million, tie)
12. Wiz Khalifa ($9 million, tie)
14. Snoop Lion ($8.5 million)
15. 50 Cent ($7.5 million)
16. Swizz Beatz ($7 million, tie)
16. Pharrell Williams ($7 million, tie)
16. Young Jeezy ($7 million, tie)
19. Mac Miller ($6.5 million)
20. Akon ($6 million, tie)

[image via Getty]

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