In a new ranking of the highest-paid hip hop artists of 2021, Jay-Z – perhaps surprisingly – has easily reached the top spot.
The list was compiled by journalist Zack O’Malley Greenburg on his Zogblog, measuring the pretax income for 2021 before deducting fees for agents, managers, lawyers, and living expenses. The estimates were generated with the help of figures from MRC Data, Pollstar, and other databases.
And there were some fascinating findings. Jay-Z accumulated a career-best total of a whopping $470 million, thanks mainly to his Tidal streaming service and Armand de Brignac champagne.
He was followed by Kanye in second, with Ye bringing in $250 million last year, owed in large part to his Yeezy fashion empire.
The earnings of Jay-Z, Ye, and the other artists on the list point to the importance of diversifying portfolios, which many hip hop artists make sure to do. So Diddy earned well through his Ciroc vodka line while DJ Khaled upped his income via partnerships with the likes of Dolce & Gabbana.
Drake came in fourth, with Certified Lover Boy shifting around two million album-equivalent units in the U.S. last year. Wiz Khalifa rounded out the top five thanks to cashing in on the burgeoning cannabis business with his Khalifa Kush.
Despite a turbulent 2021, Travis Scott made it into the list due to his Cactus Jack empire raking in the money before the Astroworld tragedy took place. Doja Cat was the only female artist to make the list, with her album Planet Her shifting 1.5 million album-equivalent units in the U.S..
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You can see the full list below. Did any big names not make the list?
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Hip Hop’s Highest-paid Artists 2021
10. Tech N9ne ($25M, tie)
10. Doja Cat ($25M, tie)
10. Birdman ($25M, tie)
9. J. Cole ($27M)
8. Eminem ($28M)
7. DJ Khaled ($35M)
6. Travis Scott ($38M)
5. Wiz Khalifa ($45M)
4. Drake ($50M)
3. Diddy ($75M)
2. Kanye West ($250M)
- Jay-Z ($470M)