Big pimpin' indeed: hip-hop mogul Jay-Z has often rapped about his success and stature in the music world and Forbes.com has placed him tops among a new tally of "Hip-Hop Cash Kings."
The list, the results of which Forbes.com announced on Thursday, had Shawn (Jay-Z) Carter reigning over other successful hip-hop peers like Curtis (50 Cent) Jackson and Sean (Diddy) Combs.
Carter returned to making music in 2006 with Kingdom Come, his 11th studio album, released three years after he announced his retirement from the genre.
The 37-year-old's new album came amid his work as president and CEO of Def Jam Recordings, part owner of the New Jersey Nets NBA team, head of his Rocawear apparel label and numerous high-profile endorsement deals with the likes of Budweiser and General Motors. Carter has also been romantically linked for the past few years to blockbuster pop diva Beyoncé Knowles.
Forbes placed Carter's 2006 earnings at an estimated $34 million US.
Jackson followed with earnings estimated at $32 million US. A consummate example of the hip-hop star who has spun musical success into multiple businesses, the 31-year-old rapper and businessman also draws income from endorsement deals and his mammoth G-Unit enterprise, which includes a record label, clothing line and cellular ring-tone production.
"I'm creating a foundation that will be around for a long time, because fame can come and go or get lost in the lifestyle and the splurging," Jackson told Forbes in 2006.
"I never got into it for the music. I got into it for the business."
Ranked third with an estimated $28 million US in earnings was ubiquitous hip-hop entrepreneur Combs, who started out as a record label talent scout.
He has since has emerged as a rapper, record producer, film and stage actor, head of Bad Boy Worldwide Entertainment (which produces music, TV programming and other initiatives), creator of his own clothing and fragrance lines and restaurateur.
Rounding out the top five were hitmaking producer Timothy (Timbaland) Mosley ($21 million US) and pioneering rapper and producer Andre (Dr. Dre) Young ($20 million US).
Other hip-hop artists on the list, which includes only men, are:
- Marshall (Eminem) Mathers
- Calvin (Snoop Dogg) Broadus
- Kanye West
- Pharrell Williams
- Scott Storch
- Christopher (Ludacris) Bridges
- Clifford (T.I.) Harris
- OutKast, a.k.a. Antwan (Big Boi) Patton and Andre (Andre 3000) Benjamin
- Jonathan (Lil Jon) Smith
- O'Shea (Ice Cube) Jackson
- Jermain Dupri
- Kasseem (Swizz Beatz) Dean
- Hakeem (Chamillionaire) Seriki
- Jayceon (The Game) Taylor
- Jasiel (Yung Joc) Robinson
A TV special about the first-ever Forbes.com list of Hip-Hop Cash Kings will air in the U.S. on Saturday.