A Breakdown Of Forbes' Top 2009 Hip-Hop Earners

AllHipHop Staff

Despite earning 57% less between June 2008 and June 2009 than he did in the same period the previous year, Jay-Z has topped this year’s Forbes list of Hip-Hop Cash Kings.

The Roc-A-Fella co-founder raked in an estimated $35 million in the 12 month qualifying period.

While his income was almost $50 million less than what he made to qualify for last year’s list, Hova still managed to reclaim the top of the list from fellow entrepreneurial rapper 50 Cent, who fell to the number four position this year with estimated earnings of $20 million.

According to Forbes, one of the biggest reasons for the drastic change in income for both rappers was that they each had huge one-time deals to include in their 2008 earnings.

Rapper 50 Cent received $100 million from Coca-Cola for his stake in Glaceau, the company behind VitaminWater; while Jay-Z signed a one-of-a-kind “360” deal with concert promoter Live Nation, receiving the lion’s share of $150 million last year.

But like most other business men, Hip-Hop’s top earners have definitely been affected by the current economic climate. Last year, the top five artists on the list earned a combined $500 million.

This year’s top 5 earners – Jay-Z, Diddy, Kanye West, Akon, and 50 Cent – made a total $300 million.

According to Forbes.com, the Forbes Hip-Hop Cash Kings list includes male recording artists whose work is primarily classified as Hip-Hop or Rap.

The earnings estimates used to compile the list are calculated from record sales, digital downloads, touring, films, TV shows, endorsements, books and other entertainment ventures.

Management, agent and attorney fees are not subtracted from the gross totals. Forbes’ analysts assessed that what has kept Hip-Hop artists afloat is licensing.

Jay-Z earned approximately $1 million from Budweiser’s use of “Show Me What You Got” in a recent ad campaign.

In addition to earnings from Bad Boy Records, Sean John and his reality TV ventures, which include Making the Band and Run’s House, a portion of Diddy’s earnings came from his relationship with Ciroc Vodka.

Kanye West added to his income last year with the release of the limited-edition Nike Air Yeezy, and is expected to add to his 2010 income with his new shoe partnership with Louis Vuitton.

Common also earned some licensing money through his Lincoln Navigator ad campaign.

“Despite the economy, Hip-Hop is just as powerful as it’s ever been in the endorsement and licensing world,” explainrf Ryan Schinman, who’s company Platinum Rye is the world’s largest buyer of music and talent for corporations.

“Tween stars and rock legends are very reliable, but the impact of Hip-Hop on pop-culture and fashion continues to lead the charge,” Schinman told Forbes.

Two of the few rappers to actually see their income increase this year, Akon and Lil Wayne, did so simply by outworking most other artists.

The bulk of their earnings came from hectic tour schedules and financially rewarding collaborations.


1. Jay-Z :: $35 Million 2. Sean “Diddy” Combs :: $30 Million 3. Kanye West :: $25 Million 4. 50 Cent & Akon :: $20 Million each 6. Lil Wayne :: $18 Million 7. Timbaland :: $17 Million 8. Pharell Williams :: $16 Million 9. T-Pain :: $15 Million 10. Eminem :: $14 Million 11. Dr. Dre :: $13 Million 12. Snoop Dogg :: $11 Million 13. Ludacris :: $10 Million 14. Common, will.i.am, T.I., & Swizz Beatz :: $8 Million each 18. Andre 3000 & Big Boi :: $7 Million each 20. Flo Rida, Rick Ross, The Game, & Young Jeezy :: $6 Million