According to the list compiled by former longtime Forbes editor Zack O’Malley Greenberg, Jay-Z and Kanye West were the highest-paid hip-hop musicians of 2021.
According to him, hip hop now accounts for 27.7% of US music consumption which happens to be the biggest share acquired by any genre in US. It is in fact such a considerable chunk, that it’s roughly equal to rock and country combined (MRC Data). However, most big hip hop names and especially the ones that year after year top these lists build their success not only on music but also on a diverse list of investments and enterprises. Many of them consider themselves entrepreneurs before artists, especially as they mature. This business oriented approach helped hip hop high earners remain relatively stable even in the years when music industry in general got shattered by the coronavirus pandemic.
Jay-Z easily topped the list with $470 million after selling portions of his music streaming service Tidal and Armand de Brignac champagne last year, bringing his overall net worth to a huge $1.5 billion. The Tidal deal alone accounts for a huge chunk of his 2021 earning, since selling 80% of Tidal to Jack Dorsey’s Square earned him $350 million of the overall $470.
Coming in second on the list is another billionaire, Kanye West (Ye), whose business endeavors outside of music made him a good chunk of change, $250 million to be exact. Nearly entire Ye’s fortune in 2021 was made from his Yeezy sneaker empire. His Yeezy shoe and streetwear empire saw a considerable surge in value last year, making him a multibillionaire, with a net worth of as much as $3.7 billion.
Number three and four spots were claimed by Puff Daddy and Drake with $75 million and $50 million, respectively, followed by Wiz Khalifa, who brought in $45 million.
They were followed by Travis Scott ($38M), DJ Khaled ($35M) and Eminem with $28 million earned, despite not having released a new album since January of 2020. Unlike most of the artists from the top of the list, who did not make majority of the money from music, most of Eminem’s earnings can be attributed to the size, longevity and overall popularity of his catalogue.
A nice surprise on the list was rapper Tech N9ne ($25M), who came in 10th place, thanks to a previously unreported digital-only catalog deal that added eight figures to his net worth. He is tied with Birdman and the only woman on the list, Doja Cat, thanks to her partnerships with Pepsi, CandyCrush, and more.
J. Cole beat them to the ninth spot by $2 million, with $27 million for the year.
Full list of hip hop’s top earners of 2021:
1. Jay-Z – $470 million
2. Kanye West – $250 million
3. Diddy – $75 million
4. Drake – $50 million
5. Wiz Khalifa – $45 million
6. Travis Scott – $38 million
7. DJ Khaled – $35 million
8. Eminem – $28 million
9. J Cole – $27 million
10 (tie): Birdman – $25 million
10. (tie): Doja Cat – $25 million
10. (tie): Tech N9ne – $25 million
Zack O’Malley Greenburg who compiled the list is also known for being Jay-Z biographer and former Forbes editor.