Though he’s hip-hop’s first billionaire, Jay-Z’s lead on the rest of the pack is even larger if his entire family fortune is taken into consideration: He and wife Beyoncé are now worth a combined $1.4 billion. So much for the notion that music is a dying business.
“To convince artists that you simply can’t be an artist and make money … was the best trick in music that folks ever achieved,” Jay-Z told Forbes in 2010. “I think the folks that were making the millions said that.”
2. Dr. Dre
It’s been five years since Dr. Dre proclaimed himself a billionaire, but Forbes still doesn’t accept as true with the assessment made within the wake of Apple’s $3 billion 2014 purchase of his Beats By Dr. Dre headphone line. The superproducer owned an estimated 20%-25% of the company at the time; of the $2.6 billion Apple paid upfront in cash, another $295 million was earmarked to cover debt payments, leaving Dre with a touch over $500 million.
Diddy explained two years ago in our centennial issue, where we named him one among the world’s greatest living business minds. “Since then, I’ve always understood that if I give the purchasers my best and repair them differently, whether music, clothing, or vodka, I’ll get a return on my diligence .”
The artist formerly known as Puff Daddy dips to No. 3 on this list as industry trends weigh on some of his holdings, including cable network Revolt and clothing line Sean John (though Diddy has sold much of his stake in the latter, he retains a sizeable piece). But Ciroc, the main driver of his fortune, is growing again after case volumes fell from all-time highs in recent years—making the impresario perhaps the most likely candidate to join Jay-Z in the billion-dollar club.
4. Kanye West
A one-time protégé of Jay-Z, the superproducer has been making headlines recently for his Sunday Service, an invitation-only get-together mostly in Southern California that is reportedly frequented by the likes of Courtney Love and Tyler, the Creator. He took the show on the road in April for a Coachella service on Easter Sunday featuring appearances by Chance the Rapper, DMX, and a gospel choir—while hawking socks and “holy spirit” sweatshirts. otherwise selling church clothes alone won’t be enough to push West into the ten-figure territory.
Despite declaring himself $53 million in debt and beseeching Mark Zuckerberg for $1 billion to fund future creations in 2016, West makes his debut on this list thanks to another company: Adidas, which lured West and his Yeezy shoe line from Nike a few years ago. Our accounting of West’s wealth is almost entirely predicated on a conservative estimate of that brand’s value. As it continues to proportion, he could at some point join his sister-in-law, Kylie Jenner, as a billionaire