Forbes ranks the richest rappers: Some guys named Shawn, Sean, and Aliuane top the list

Forbes has once again taken time from covering entrepreneurs who work with short-term CDs and gold-backed bonds to cover those who work with 12-track CDs and gold teeth. And again, Jay-Z has topped the business magazine’s annual list of highest-earning hip-hop stars, raking in an impressive $63 million over the past year. That’s over twice as much as his nearest competition, Diddy, and $28 million more than he made last year.

Kanye West experienced one of the bigger drops, going from third place in 2009 all the way down to 10th, right behind Pharrell (the only other artist in the Top 20 who uses his real name). Kanye’s drop could be a result of VMA backlash and his subsequent laying-low, but with a new album coming up, it’s hard to imagine that his estimated $12 million won’t increase soon.

Personally, I was surprised that a lot of the names on the list, like Diddy, Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg, haven’t had a huge hit in awhile. Also, where’s MC Hammer? I would have assumed that his Cash 4 Gold investment strategy would have paid off by now. I’m probably less surprised at the names on the list than I am at the names on the list. Calvin? Clifford? Aubrey? Lonnie? Somehow I think I now understand the need for their monikers. Here’s the full list:

1. Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter
2. Sean “Diddy” Combs
3. Aliuane “Akon” Thiam
4. Dwayne “Lil Wayne” Carter
5. Andre “Dr. Dre” Young
6. Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges
7. Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus
8. Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley
9. Pharrell Williams
10. Kanye West
11. Aubrey “Drake” Graham
12. Clifford “T.I.” Harris
13. Kasseem “Swizz Beatz” Dean
14. Marshall “Eminem” Mathers/Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (tie)
16. Jay “Young Jeezy” Jenkins
17. Lonnie “Common” Lynn Jr.
18. DeAndre “Soulja Boy” Way/Faheem “T-Pain” Najm (tie)
20. Jonathan “Lil Jon” Smith/Radric “Gucci Mane” Davis/William “Rick Ross” Roberts (tie)

Anyone you’re surprised to see? Anyone you’re surprised not to see?

Comments (129 total) Add your comment
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  • MCS

    Definitely not who you would think for some of them. i.e Eminem/50 Cent so low, Akon so high?

    • max

      He will have a much bigger year this year… when they compiled his list, he probably hadnt banked much off the sales from his new CD. :)

      • margerite

        i thoght wezzy was the richest or even bird man nt jay z lol

    • Tom

      Akon signed Lady Gaga on his label. That’s what it is. He admits it in interviews. She brings in crazy money or at least enough, when combined with his own constant cameos on everyone’s CD, to vault him up there.

      • wakeforce

        Akon has also produced such non-hip-hop artists such as Gwen Stefani, Leona Lewis, Lionel Richie, Whitney Houston (!) I’m sure he gets paid lotsa money to do this. You also have to be involved in something besides music and Jay-Z and Diddy have many outside ventures.

    • ibrahim kante

      yo must be senegal to say akon is hight than 50 nd eminem

    • ag713

      Eminem and 50cent is way better than Jay-z

    • junir

      Akon is a businessman that so happens to rap/sing. He also owns his own record label and has stock in clothing brands as well among other things

    • Baller

      Akon has lady gaga in his label.. He is making money
      of off her

    • Christine

      this ain’t true

  • Menchy

    I’m a little surprised about the lack of Kid Cudi. He had a huge year… or at least a bigger year than Young Jeezy.

    • cidney

      were’s wiz klahfa

      • Baller

        Wiz khalifa had just mixtapes on 2010.. Black and yellow is his first big hit

  • J-Mac

    Rappers that didnt make the list but should have….

    1. Kid Crapper
    2. Lil PeePee
    3. Young Doody

    What the heck yo! How can Em feed Haley if he’s only 14th on the list!

  • Ana

    When I read the name “Clifford”, I wondered what Method Man was doing on the list. I didn’t realize T.I. had the same name. I’m surprised Akon is so high. I didn’t think he was doing anything lately. I also didn’t know he was a rapper so that may be the problem.

  • johnnykagewins

    no surprise that the top 10 has more producers and producer/rappers and 11-20 are more rappers and rapper/actors.

    I’m dissapointed to see SouljaBoy make the list, since he sticks to whack like s#it to a blanket; but i guess those ringtone sales are still keeping his bank high.

    I have no idea why Gucci Mane is anywhere near the top 20, but I’m glad he thried for last spot on the list.

    • Gabriel Jones

      sir souljaboy is rich off of youtube. and gucci mane has put out alot of music this year. not happy that soulja boy is over him though/

  • PDT

    Does this count other ventures, like the Sean John brand? If so, that explains Diddy’s ranking.

  • Jessica

    Lady Gaga is on Akon’s label. That’s why he’s up so high.

    • Lauren

      He’s a smart guy! Easy millions for him.

    • Uh huh.

      EXACTLY. AKON is quietly laughing all the way to the bank!! I don’t think he cares one way or the other if the public knows he is the man behind the Lady Gaga Machine. Gaga = $250M projected Earnings for 2010 alone!

  • Dorkophile

    First you have to remember this is just this year. In their industry it goes up and down every year based on whether they are touring, making records, etc. Half of these guys put out a quality record every OTHER year as opposed to some who put out crappy records twice a year.
    Also, I hope the MCHammer reference was a joke- he went bankrupt years ago; I think there was a THS or Behind the Music about it.

  • nodnarb

    I had no idea Eminem and 50 Cent were a couple who counted the income jointly!

    • A

      I thought the same thing…wth?

    • Lynn

      If you read the whole thing, you would realize they’re listed together because they were TIED.

  • William

    I bet in that list combined, about $250 Million last year was spent on “bitches” and Cristal (which by the way is overpriced, overrated and not nearly as good as Le Grand Dame). Half of them, especially the ones who don’t own the record labels will be broke in 10 years because of the excessive stupidity that goes with the hip hop culture.

    • Ms KSwiss

      @ William, your hateration is there motivation, why even read the story and make a dum comment r u jealous?

    • Gabriel Jones

      @william how do you know what they do with there money get a life!

    • jen

      Hey Willie,don’t you wish you were them? By the most of them don’t even drink Cristal anymore.

  • LadyJNewYork

    Damn, no wonder everyone wants to be a rapper, LOL. (ok not everyone)…LOL

  • LadyJNewYork

    p.s. I am surprised to see Soulja Boy….too bad Lupe Fiasco is not on the list, he’s a better rapper than most of those listed but he’s not “mainstream.”

  • Robbie

    Diddy is up there because of his money from producing and writing and probably residuals for the hits he’s written for others, on top of his outside ventures like clothing, perfume and VODKA of all things.

    Kanye hasn’t written/produced as many other songs for other artists lately and doesn’t seem to do many personal business ventures, but I’d imagine if they did they’d be cooler than the rest of ‘em.

    • Murmo vincent

      Akon is rapsinging so he deserves to be in d list

  • tim

    Why is Akon on this list? I didn’t think he rapped, I thought he just squeaked?

    • Mika

      Right Tim!

  • KeraP

    CD sales don’t equate to much for singers or rappers anymore. Jay Z makes that much because of that Live Nation concert deal. The big time stars that want to make money know that they have to do it on tours. Add to that, Jay Z has his hands in a lot of other business and marketing. It’s kind of funny that people still think they can have one hit song or album and be this rich.

    • u


      • Blkredneck

        Some of you IDIOTS are talking about how such and such rapper should be on there, well it’s who has the MOST money NOT the best at rapping!!!!

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