Rap legend Diddy (AKA Sean Combs, P-Diddy, Puff Daddy, or Puffy) was the highest earner in hip-hop over the past year, according to Forbes’ annual list of hip-hop cash kings. The native New Yorker used his various business and branding efforts to make $60 million dollars, approximately $4 million more than longtime music competitor/entrepreneur Jay Z.
Here’s the interesting part: Diddy hasn’t released a studio album in five years, and he barely plays shows anymore.
Instead, the bulk of his new cash came from sales of his vodka line, along with other business ventures. The business-savvy rapper is a major shareholder in Ciroc, and in 2007 he was able to negotiate a deal that gives him 50 percent of the profits in exchange for celebrity endorsements. He also owns urban clothing brand Sean John, TV network Revolt, and alkaline water company Aquahydrate, to name a few.
Dr. Dre (who came in fourth this year, with $33 million in income) still tops the all-time list, making $620 million last year through the sale of his co-founded Beats brand to Apple. And, given the success of his newly-released record and the biopic Straight Out of Compton, he should be closer to the top next year.
Drake came in at a distant third place to Diddy and Jay Z, making a measly $36 million. His chunk of the pie, though, was largely from music performances: the rapper netted almost $1 million per show on his 50-date tour.
What about Kendrick Lamar? The new rap royalty raked in a comparatively small sum of $12 million last year, coming in at number 13 on the list. Lamar is outspoken about his lack of desire for brand endorsements, as well as being overt in his criticism of the monied music industry. Forbes quotes the rapper as saying, “All money ain’t good money.”
It’s a strong stance, but one with which Diddy — and most of the others on this list — would probably disagree.