We know Kanye West and a lot of his fellow bling-boasting hip-hop stars are living the good life. But just how good is it?
Forbes' list-o-mania continues with its unveiling of 2011's Hip-Hop Cash Kings, compiled according to how much the rappers banked over the past 12 months from album sales, touring, merchandise deals, business ventures, etc.
Despite all the sturm und drang that drags him down from time to time, Kanye, of course, made the list. Where does he rank, however, next to his latest collaborator, Jay-Z; old-timers like Dr. Dre and Birdman; or relative youngsters like Lil Wayne?
Sure enough, the Carter rules.
Jay-Z (aka Shawn Carter) leads all comers once again with $37 million in earnings since last August. A majority of the dough is proceeds from his Blueprint 3 tour, but the onetime retiree owes plenty to his 40/40 luxury-sportsbar chain, an interest in the New Jersey Nets and other investments. And it's nice to have that $150 million, 10-year deal with concert-promoting behemoth Live Nation to fall back on, as well.
Nipping at his heels, however, is fellow mogul Sean "Diddy" Combs, who raked in a neat $35 million from his Bad Boy record label, his Sean John clothing line and his lucrative Ciroc vodka deal.
West may have landed at No. 3, but he's a ways down there at "only" $16 million, the slacker just coasting along on his critically adored platinum album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.
But the next 12 months are shaping up to be even more massive for the rapper-producer-gaffemaker, his long-awaited collaboration with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne, having just dropped this week. Best Buy forked over quite a bit of bread to be the only brick-and-mortar retailer selling the deluxe version of the album until Aug. 23.
The rest of the top 10 had similar years, revenue-wise, with Cash Money honcho Bryan "Birdman" Williams tying Lil Wayne for the next two spots with $15 million, showing that tha Carter isn't doing too bad, either.
Eminem, Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre are holding fast with $14 million; Akon scraped together $13 million and Christopher "Ludacris" Bridges earned most of his $12 million from his Tag body spray and Trojan endorsements, as well as scene-stealing roles in Fast Five, No Strings Attached and the upcoming New Year's Eve.
Ludacris also raps from time to time, and he expects his eighth studio album, Ludaversal, will be out in early 2012.