How much moolah do you need to be the richest man in rap? A mere $476 million would do the trick—No. 2 Jay-Z has only $475 million to his name—but P. Diddy is playing it safe with an estimated net worth of $580 million, landing him the top spot on the annual Forbes list of the genre’s wealthiest artists. It’s a strategy that works, as the artist formerly known as Puff Daddy has topped the list for several years running.
The rest of the list includes Dr. Dre ($350 million), Cash Money Records co-founder Bryan “Birdman” Williams ($150 million) and 50 Cent ($125 million).
As Vulture points out, calling him a “hip-hop artist” isn’t exactly an accurate portrait of Diddy, or of the source of his fortune. And it’s not just Diddy. Even a quick glance at the Forbes list makes clear that, while rap and hip-hop can bring fame, the music isn’t responsible for such astounding wealth: many of those at the top of the list have parlayed their names and personas into profitable branding and sponsorship deals.
In Diddy’s case, the huge growth of his fortune—more than $100 million since 2011—is attributed largely to his relationship with Ciroc vodka, the popular brand that provides him with what Forbes identifies as “eight-figure annual payouts.” Jay-Z likewise has benefited from the sale of Rocawear and his deal with Live Nation, as well as his own record label; Dr. Dre has his Beats headphones; and 50 Cent has a wide array of media and endorsement deals.
Birdman, however, is a record-label owner who makes money via his record label. Très banal, if you ask us.