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The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artists 2012 - Diddy is #1

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 The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artists 2012 - Diddy is #1
Unread 3 years agoclass of '05 - away - #1
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The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artists 2012

Back in 2007, Jay-Z, Diddy and 50 Cent released “I Get Money (The Forbes 1-2-3 Billionaire Remix).” The song was a celebration of the artists’ inclusion atop the first-ever Forbes Hip-Hop Cash Kings list, now an annual package on the genre’s top-earning artists. It seems fitting that those same three artists find themselves in an even more exclusive group—the Forbes Five, a short list of hip-hop’s wealthiest moguls.

Indeed, the original trio boasts a combined net worth well over a billion dollars, rendering their lyrical prognostications accurate. They’re joined by Dr. Dre, flush with cash from his Beats headphone line, and Cash Money Records cofounder Bryan “Birdman” Williams.

“One of my motivations in life is to be a billionaire,” said Birdman in a telephone interview with FORBES. “We’re going to keep working hard until we get our brand to be as big as possible. That’s the goal in life, that’s what I live for.”

Diddy is the closest to becoming a billionaire, leading the pack with a net worth of $550 million. The Bad Boy Records founder has remained a mainstream mainstay for 15 years thanks to his knack for self-promotion. Lately, he’s been channeling that energy toward Diageo-backed Ciroc vodka, much to the benefit of his bank account: he receives double-digit millions annually as a share of profits. Sales of the spirit spiked 122% last year in the wake of strong demand for new flavor Ciroc Peach; he is entitled to a nine-figure chunk of cash if the brand is ever sold.

Diddy also boasts stakes in clothing lines Sean John and Enyce, marketing firm Blue Flame, record label Bad Boy and a handful of tech startups. But it’s his deal with Comcast to launch cable channel Revolt in 2013 that could push him into billionaire territory. He’ll own the channel outright, and based on projected viewership totals, its value could soar into the low-to-mid nine figures within the next few years.


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Next up is Jay-Z at $460 million. Unlike his fellow Forbes Five members, Jay-Z still churns out music and goes on tour—most recently with pal Kanye West—adding to his considerable war chest. He sold his Rocawear clothing label for $204 million in 2007 and signed 10-year $150 million deal with Live Nation in 2008, and also holds stakes in the New Jersey Nets, his 40/40 Club chain, ad firm Translation, cosmetics company Carol’s Daughter and other businesses. (For more on his rise as a businessman, check out Zack’s Jay-Z biography, “Who’s going to be hip-hop’s first billionaire is still to be determined,” says Steve Stoute, the advertising guru who founded and co-owns Translation with Jay-Z. “But clearly Jay and Puffy are far and away positioned to surpass that.”


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Dr. Dre ranks third with $270 million, doubling from a year ago thanks to a major sale. In August, handset maker HTC paid $300 million to buy a 51% stake in Beats Electronics, the company founded by Dr. Dre and Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine in 2008.

Sources say each owned a third of the company before the deal, placing Dre’s cut at $85 million after taxes. The agreement also values Dre’s remaining stake at $100 million, which could increase rapidly as the company continues to expand.


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Birdman clocks in at No. 4 with a fortune of $125 million. He cofounded Cash Money Records with brother Ronald “Slim” Williams two decades ago, inking very favorable $30 million distribution deal with Universal in 1998. The label’s value is increasing with the success of rappers Drake, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne (who shares ownership of sub-label Young Money).

There’s even more on the horizon: Cash Money’s deal with Universal is up this summer, raising the prospect of a bidding war for the right to distribute the label’s releases.

“Right now we are with Universal and we’re just trying to do the best music possible,” Birdman told me. “I’m loyal to my team, and to success. Whoever gives the most benefit to my team, which is first, and to its success, that’s where we’ll end up at.”


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Rounding out the Forbes Five is Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson at $110 million. The Queens-born rapper earned $100 million on the sale of his Vitaminwater stake in 2007—and tens of millions more from touring, record sales and clothing—but spent freely on cars and renovations to his mansion, formerly owned by Mike Tyson. Even so, a nice cushion remains from his back catalog, acting gigs and 50 Cent-themed videogames, shoes and books, as well as his new headphone line SMS. Next up: an energy shot called Street King, which promises to feed hungry children—and 50’s bank account.

Still, there’s no guarantee that hip-hop’s first billionaire will come from this group of five.

“As much as it’s easy to say it’ll be Diddy or Jay, you don’t necessarily know, given what a guy like Kanye or Will.i.am is capable of doing,” says Stoute. “In a world where people are creating applications that sell for a billion dollars, you never know who’s going to come out of left field.”

The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artists 2012 - Forbes

Last edited by ice wolf; 04-17-2012 at 03:13 PM..
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12 comments for "The Forbes Five: Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artists 2012 - Diddy is #1"

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Unread 3 years agoclass of '12 - away - #2
44wade 218 heat pts218 space
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Still be on top
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '04 - on now - #3
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home run king
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bullsh*t list nowhere near real jay gotta be top

50 aint spend money freely like puff/birdman

wheres em on the list????
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '05 - away - #4
ice wolf 406 heat pts406 space
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Wasn't 50 worth 350 mil a couple years ago? So what ... he spent 140 mil?

Some of these numbers are pulled out of thin air. It's hard to place a real value on land, music, intellectual property and so on ....
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '05 - away - #5
ice wolf 406 heat pts406 space
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subway series said:
bullsh*t list nowhere near real jay gotta be top

50 aint spend money freely like puff/birdman

wheres em on the list????
It's Forbes, it's not bullsh!t. It's probably the closest info you'll get on Hip-Hop's top earners. Still not entirely accurate either.
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '11 - away - #6
Kingpin 313 76 heat pts76 space
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50 hasn't done sh*t since vitamin water of course he losing money




Birdman will probably be worth 200-300 mill after they sign there new deal
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '04 - on now - #7
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ice wolf said:
It's Forbes, it's not bullsh!t. It's probably the closest info you'll get on Hip-Hop's top earners. Still not entirely accurate either.
still bullsh*t list

forbes or not ...... just a.ssumptions
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '11 - away - #8
Jaymalls 58 heat pts58 space
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ice wolf said:
Wasn't 50 worth 350 mil a couple years ago? So what ... he spent 140 mil?

Some of these numbers are pulled out of thin air. It's hard to place a real value on land, music, intellectual property and so on ....
It's because most of 50 Cent's money was in stocks. When the market slumped, so did his portfolio. Y'all dumb n*ggas need to smarten up and get off boxden once in a while... Get some stamps in yall passport... Start a portfolio... Hell, just go to a meusam or art gallery once in a blue! Switch it up!

P.S. shout out to Diddy.. One of the first Hip-Hop moguls, flying in private jets and taking trips to St. Bart's on a yatch n sh*t!
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '11 - away - #9
Jaymalls 58 heat pts58 space
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Ohh yea... Baby still mad at the fact he got baby money compared to Jay-Z! That 1bar cut them YMCMB n*ggas deep because it's true. I bet he gonna make a grip they et a new contract... Somewhere near 200mil to spilt up between a gang of n*ggas!
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '11 - away - #10
Tybigbigguy 111 heat pts111 space
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Jaymalls said:
It's because most of 50 Cent's money was in stocks. When the market slumped, so did his portfolio. Y'all dumb n*ggas need to smarten up and get off boxden once in a while... Get some stamps in yall passport... Start a portfolio... Hell, just go to a meusam or art gallery once in a blue! Switch it up!

P.S. shout out to Diddy.. One of the first Hip-Hop moguls, flying in private jets and taking trips to St. Bart's on a yatch n sh*t!
Didn't he sell his stocks tho
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '11 - away - #11
Tybigbigguy 111 heat pts111 space
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Diddy is doing it big now all he needs to do is quit rapping
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Unread 3 years agoclass of '11 - away - #12
Jaymalls 58 heat pts58 space
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Tybigbigguy said:
Didn't he sell his stocks tho
Some, Yes! Doesn't mean they didn't depreciate in value prior to him selling them. 50 is really banking on his recent film deal to bring him back into the top 3.
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