The annual Forbes Five list of hip-hop’s wealthiest artists has been released. As Forbes puts it, “the only thing more predictable than a Diddy name change” is Diddy topping the list. Sure enough, Diddy has held on to the top spot again this year, but Jay Z is right on his tail. The five names on the list remain the same as last year, but numbers two and three have switched places. At number five, Drake is worth $90 million. Number four Birdman is worth a bit more at $110 million. The number three spot sees a big jump in wealth over number four, with Dr. Dre coming in at $740 million. Second place Jay Z is worth $810 million, a thirty percent jump over the previous year. Top dog Diddy is just barely edging out Jay Z with a worth calculated at $820 million.
Diddy, Dr. Dre, Jay Z, and Birdman have all earned a spot on the list year after year. Other names that spent some time on the list in the past are Kanye West and 50 Cent. Forbes creates the list each year by “looking at past earnings, valuing current holdings, leafing through financial documents and talking to analysts, attorneys, managers, other industry players and even some of the moguls themselves.” Jay Z saw a big boost to his fortune this year thanks to a $200 million investment by Sprint in his music-streaming service, Tidal. This investment brought the value of the company up to $600 million, a tenfold increase over what he originally paid.
Both Diddy and Jay Z are getting ever closer to the one billion dollar mark and it might be a photo-finish race. Both artists have lucrative deals with companies, Diddy with Cîroc vodka and Jay Z with champagne brand Armand de Brignac. The Washington Post wrote that music made Diddy famous, but it’s the brand partnerships with companies like Cîroc that made him rich. Jay Z also has a new $200 million deal with Live Nation, a move that may help him overtake Diddy in next year’s Forbes Five list.
Will 2017 be the year a hip-hop artist reaches the billion dollar mark? Many are predicting it will be the year for one of these artists, most likely Diddy. Paul Carrick Brunson points out that this achievement would be worth celebrating, as there are currently fewer than five African Americans who have achieved billionaire status. Brunson argues this would make Diddy a “beacon of hope” and it would “legitimize the economic power of hip-hop.”