The richest five hip-hop acts have amassed a combined wealth of $3.8 billion, according to a new report from the former Forbes entertainment editor Zack O’Malley Greenburg, who now covers the music business at Substack. That’s a few million more than the pre-pandemic total of $3.17 billion, but the distribution of wealth underwent significant changes just this week.
Jay-Z continues his reign as hip-hop’s richest artist with a net worth of $1.5 billion, still at the top since becoming the genre’s first billionaire in 2019. He is now followed by Sean “Diddy” Combs, who replaces his former collaborator Kanye West with a net worth of $1 billion after the latter’s series of anti-Semitic and anti-Black comments muddied his business deals to the point where his total wealth is went from $2 billion to about $500 million.
The biggest reduction in West’s net worth came from the loss of his deal with Adidas, which issued a statement earlier this week saying, “Adidas does not condone anti-Semitism and any other type 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 indifferent — as if he had a choice — the rapper returned to Instagram after a multi-day ban to declare, “I lost $2 billion in one day and I’m still alive… Money is not who I am. The people are who I am.
Meanwhile, Diddy’s rise to prominence in the billionaire club is the result of years of valuable investments and assets, including his $60 million-a-year Ciroc partnership with Diageo. The musician-turned-entrepreneur also benefits from his partial stake in DeLeon tequila and Revolt, the media network launched in 2013 of which Diddy is the majority shareholder.
Rounding out the list are two performers heading in seemingly opposite directions, one falling while the other rises. Gilbert “Berner” Milam ranks fourth on the list with a net worth of $410 million thanks in large part to his Bay Area Cookies cannabis empire. The company sells 70 strains of marijuana and 2,000 weed-related products worldwide. Berner, who is also a rapper, has an estimated 30% stake in the company and is expected to achieve billionaire status in the future.
Dr. Dre is close behind Berner with a net worth of $400 million, though he’s not expected to see that number grow as much as his competitors. Despite once having a net worth of $800 million, Dre’s fortunes have dwindled since starting a music academy with Jimmy Iovine – which cost him $70 million – and buying $40 million from dollars from 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 richest hip-hop artists derives its estimates from the valuation of known assets and liabilities in each artist’s portfolio, in addition to conversations with a variety of sources – from managers and lawyers to artists themselves, in certain cases – and public documents.