Jay-Z Captures Hip-Hop's Cash Crown

Rapper Jay-Z tops the Forbes hip-hop earners list
Rapper Jay-Z tops the Forbes hip-hop earners list

According to a report released by Forbes earlier Tuesday, rapper Jay-Z racked up $63 million over the past 12 months, earning the top spot in the publication's ranking of hip-hop's cash kings for the second year in a row.

Almost Double Last Year's Paycheck

Jay-Z's payday marked an 80% increase from last year, when he pulled in $35 million to top the Forbes hip-hop list. Diddy's $30 million was even with last year's figure. Third-ranked Akon edged up from $20 million in 2009 to $21 million in 2010 on the strength of his Kon Live record label and World Cup ad campaign for Pepsi (PEP), while fourth-ranked Lil Wayne toured his way to $20 million, up from $18 million, despite landing in jail last March.

Rapper Jay-Z signs autographs for fans.
Rapper Jay-Z signs autographs for fans.

On the whole, hip-hop's top 20 earners banked $300 million in 2010, same as last year, despite a creaky world economy and a floundering recording industry.

The majority of the top earners are the ones who've diversified their revenue streams beyond music, launching clothing lines (Jay-Z's Rocawear, Pharrell's Billionaire Boys Club, T.I.'s Akoo), alcoholic beverages (Diddy's Diageo (DEO) joint venture, Ciroc, as well as Lil Jon's liquid ventures, Little Jonathan wine and Crunk!!! Energy Drink) and electronics (Snoop Dogg's Skullcandy headphones and Dr. Dre's Beats by Dre ear buds).

Outside Investments

compiled its list by interviewing sources within the music industry, including lawyers, media buyers, record label executives and some of the artists themselves, and by gathering data from providers like Billboard, Pollstar, Nielsen SoundScan and the Recording Industry Association of America. (See the full list here.)

Jay-Z could have made even more this year on another of his own outside investments -- a stake in the New Jersey Nets basketball team -- had the LeBron James sweepstakes turned out differently. The rapper lost out on a windfall of about $5 million that would have occurred had James signed with the Nets. Perhaps Jay-Z can understand one reason James went to Miami: There's no personal state income tax in Florida.

Disclosure: Greenburg, a freelance writer, authored both the Forbes report and this DailyFinance article concerning it.