The five highest-paid acts in hip-hop have amassed a combined wealth of $3.8 billion, according to a new report from former Forbes entertainment editor Zack O’Malley Greenburg, who now covers the business of music at Substack. It’s a few million more than the $3.17 billion pre-pandemic total, but the distribution of wealth has undergone some significant changes as recently as this week.
Jay-Z continues his reign as hip-hop’s richest artist with a net worth of $1.5 billon, still riding the high since he became the genre’s first billionaire in 2019. He’s now trailed by Sean “Diddy” Combs, who replaces his former collaborator Kanye West with a net worth of $1 billion after the latter’s string of antisemitic and anti-Black comments muddled his business deals to the point where his total wealth dropped from a reported $2 billion to around $500 million.
The biggest cut in West’s net worth came from the loss of his deal with Adidas, who issued a statement earlier this week saying: “Adidas does not tolerate antisemitism and any other sort of hate speech. Ye’s recent comments and actions have been unacceptable, hateful and dangerous, and they violate the company’s values of diversity and inclusion, mutual respect and fairness.”
Seemingly unbothered — as if he had a choice — the rapper returned to Instagram after a days-long ban to declare: “I lost 2 billion dollars in one day and I’m still alive … The money is not who I am. The people is who I am.”
Meanwhile, Diddy’s surge into the billionaires club comes courtesy of years of investments and valuable assets, including his Ciroc partnership with Diageo which draws in $60 million annually. The musician-turned-entrepreneur also benefits from his partial ownership of DeLeon tequila and Revolt, the media network launched in 2013 for which Diddy is a majority shareholder.
Rounding out the list are two artists heading in seemingly opposite directions, one falling as the other rises. Gilbert “Berner” Milam lands in the fourth position on the list with a net worth of $410 million thanks in large part to his Bay Area cannabis empire Cookies. The company sells 70 strains of marijuana and 2,000 weed-related products globally. Berner, who is also a rapper, maintains an estimated 30% stake in the company and is predicted to reach billionaire status in the future.
Dr. Dre trails closely behind Berner with a $400 million net worth, though he isn’t expected to see that number rise as much as his competition. Despite once having a net worth of $800 million, Dre’s fortunes have dwindled from the creation of a music academy with Jimmy Iovine — which cost him $70 million — and the $40 million purchase of Tom Brady and Giselle Bundchen’s Los Angeles mansion. By the end of the year, Dr. Dre is expected to hand over another $50 million as part of a $100 million settlement paid to his ex-wife, half of which has already been paid.
The ranking of the wealthiest hip-hop artists draws its estimates from valuing known assets and liabilities in each artist’s portfolio in addition to conversations with wide-ranging sources — from managers and lawyers to the artists themselves, in some instances — and public documents.