The Top Twelve Richest Rappers includes two record label owners who propelled rap artists and their controversial messages into mainstream America. Russell Simmons and Ronald Slim Williams of Cash Money Records proudly join Lil Wayne, Pharrell Williams, 50 Cent, Kanye West, Usher, Eminem, Master P, JayZ, Diddy, and Dre.
Our modern American moguls are the 21st centure rags-to-riches dream that permeates American culture. These Cinderellas wear Nike or Adidas while musically exposing social injustice, grinding poverty, drugs and a thug culture that destroys the social fabric of America’s inner cities. They poetically put their ‘hood, their brothers as well as their code of loyalty on display. They voice the message of the disenfranchised, wounded or enraged. Their message has proved to be powerfully lucrative. These twelve Rap moguls represent an estimated combined net worth of $4,215 billion dollars in 2017. The world is listening.
Table of Contents
- These are the richest rappers in 2017-2018
- No. 12: Lil Wayne – $150 Million Net Worth
- No. 11: Pharrell Williams- $155 Million Net Worth
- No. 10: 50 Cent – $155 Million Net Worth
- No. 9: Kanye West – $160 Million Net Worth
- No. 8: Ronald Slim Williams- $ 170 Million Net Worth
- No. 7: Usher – $180 Million Net Worth
- No. 6: Eminem (Marshall Bruce Mathers III) – $210 Million Net Worth
- No. 5: Master P – Percy Miller – $250 Million Net Worth
- No. 4: Russell Simmons – $325 Million Net Worth
- No. 3: Jay-Z – Shawn Carter – $810 Million Net Worth
- No. 2: Diddy – Sean Combs – $820 Million Net Worth
- No. 1: Dr. Dre – $830 Million Net Worth
These are the richest rappers in 2017-2018
No. 12: Lil Wayne – $150 Million Net Worth
Lil Wayne may occupy spot No. 12 , but he qualifies as the youngest artist ever to launch a career in rap. Lil Wayne ‘s extraordinary rap talent was first recognized when he was only eleven years old by Bryan “Birdman” Williams, co-founder of Cash Money Records.
Dewayne Michael Carter, Jr. was born on September 27, 1982, to a 19 year old single mother. He was reared by his step-father, Rabbit, and his mother in New Orleans’ Hollygrove neighborhood. At age eight, Lil Wayne wrote his first rap song. His extraordinary lyrical abilities were recognized by enrollment in Lafayette Elementary School’s gifted program. When he was only 11 years old, Lil Wayne left a free-style recording on Birdman’s phone. As a result, Lil Wayne was brought on board Cash Money Records as the other half of a duo named the B.G’s.
By 1999, when he turned 17, Cash Money Records released Lil Wayne’s debut solo album, Tha Block is Hot. Tha Block is Hot launched Lil Wayne’s rap career. It is an RIAA platinum certified album. This release was quickly followed by Lights Out in 2000 and 500 Degreez in 2002, both of which were certified gold by The RIAA.
Today Lil Wayne has an estimated net worth of $150 million dollars. Despite arrests for illegal drugs, possession of weapons, a one-year prison sentence in Riker Prison, or hospitalizations related to epileptic seizures, Lil Wayne continues to flourish as a rapper. He has sold over 100 million albums worldwide. His estimated net worth in 2017 is $150 million dollars.
No. 11: Pharrell Williams- $155 Million Net Worth
Master collaborator Pharrell Lanscilo Williams, “Pharrell,” was born in Virginia Beach, Virginia on April 5, 1973. Pharrell is a multi-genre musician/song writer who knows that collaboration with other major talent builds success. This knowledge is reflected in an estimated net worth of $155 million in 2017.
Like Eric Clapton, Pharrell has collaborated with an amazing number of musicians across a vast spectrum – R&B, rap, hip hop, pop, and rock, His roots go back to 7th grade summer band camp, where he became friends with Chad Hugo. By the beginning of the 1990’s, Hugo and Pharrell formed The Neptunes, a four-member group that also includes their friends Haley and Etheridge.
Pharrell’s production talents has propelled The Neptune’s collaborations to Billboard No. 1 wins. In 2000, Pharrell’s “I Just Want to Love U,” on JayZ’s The Dynasty: Roc La Familia album, caught Britney Spears fancy. Britney sought out Pharrell to collaborate on her upcoming album. When she released 2001 Britney in 2001, “I’m a Slave 4 U,” the album’s lead single, was produced by The Neptunes. “I’m a Slave 4 U” was Pharrell’s first song to debut at No. 1 on The 2010 Billboard.
After a stellar career launch by JayZ and Britney, Pharrell went on to collaborate with such diverse artists as Snoop Dogg, Gwen Stefani, Clipse, Beyoncé, Madonna, Shakira, Justin Timberlake, and Jennifer Lopez. In 2013, he produced and wrote Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines,” which peaked at No. 1 on The Billboard Hot 100. To date, Pharrell has earned ten Grammy awards, including two awards with The Neptunes. Pharrell was also nominated for Academy Awards in 2014 And 2017.
His business interests are equally diverse. Pharrell formed a multi-medium creative collective named I am OTHER. It serves as an umbrella for his other many business interests. The diverse Mr. Williams has designed sunglasses for Louis Vuitton And Moncler, partnered with Adidas, released a collection for Uniquio, and created his Bionic Yarn textile company. Pharrell channels his philanthropy through his non-profit organization, From One Hand to an Other, which was created to empower children to learn through technology and community resources. We predict Pharrell Williams will continue to climb his way up toward No. 1 one rung at a time.
No. 10: 50 Cent – $155 Million Net Worth
An Eminem/Dr. Dre protégé, 50 Cent (Curtis Jackson III) was born on July 6, 1975 in Queens, New York. Another rags-to-riches phenomenon, 50 Cent was reared by his grandmother. His mother, Sabrina, was a drug dealer, who died in an unexplained fire when 50 Cent was eight. At age 11 he began boxing; he was competing by the time he was 14. At age 12 he began dealing narcotics. Although he was arrested twice for selling drugs in 1994, for which he was sentenced to a year at Riker Island, he was released at the end of six months after earning a GED in boot camp.
As 50 Cent struggled to support himself, he began rapping. He recorded over tracks in a friend’s basement. In 1996, when he was 21, 50 Cent was introduced to Jam Master Jay of Run-DMC. Jay taught 50 Cent such basics as how to count bars, write choruses, structure songs, And create hooks. By 2000, 50 Cent had moved on from Jam Master Jay to release his debut album. Power of The Dollar. Although this album increased 50 Cent’s popularity, it failed to propel him to national recognition.
50 Cent’s slow rise in the rap world came briefly to a halt when he was shot by a gunman in front of his grandmother’s home on April 24, 2000. The gunman, alleged to be Mike Tyson’s body guard, fired 9 shots from a 9-mm handgun. 50 Cent took hits on his left cheek, hand, arm, hip, and both legs. 50 Cent survived. This near-death experience profoundly influenced his belief in a protective higher power. It awakened a conviction that God had a mission for his life.
In 2002 Eminem heard 50 Cent’s Guess Who’s Back? CD. Eminem was so impressed that he invited 50 Cent to Los Angles to meet Dre. Dre agreed with Eminem’s assessment and signed 50 Cent to a $1 million record deal. 50 Cent was so hyped prior to his Get Rich or Die Tryin’ was ever released in February 2003 that it debuted at No. 1 on The Billboard 200. Rolling Stone praised its “dark synth grooves” as we;; as 50 Cent’s “..unflappable, laid-back flow”. To date, 50 Cent has sold over 30 million albums worldwide. He has been awarded a Grammy, four BET Awards, and thirteen Billboard Music Awards.
Although 50 Cent declared bankruptcy in 2013, it proved to be a strategic legal move to preserve his assets from attachment during litigation involving a sex tape lawsuit and litigation filed by Sleek Auto over a headphone deal gone south. 50 Cent’s bankruptcy was recently discharged by The U.S. Bankruptcy Court after he paid $23 million to settle those creditor claims. Today, 50 Cent has an estimated net worth of $155 million. This valuation reflects his bankruptcy discharge, income generated as co-star/executive producer of the Starz TV drama, Power, and earnings from his record sales. Once his investments in Frigo luxury underwear and SMS headphones show returns, 50 Cents’ net worth will only continue to grow in 2018.
No. 9: Kanye West – $160 Million Net Worth
Kanye West, an actor, rapper, producer, and fashion designer. The media occasionally overshadows West by its coverage of Kim Kardashian, by his beautiful high-profile wife. However, West’s financial net worth is no longer overshadowed by Kim’s earnings. In June 2016, Kanye West signed a lucrative business deal with Adidas which might boost him to billionaire status within a few years. Adidas will partner with West’s Yeezy line to market accessories, apparel And shoes, including opportunities for West to design athletic gear for basketball and football. This deal immediately jumped Kanye West to $160 million in 2017.
Although Atlanta, Georgia is West’s birthplace, on June 8, 1977, he was reared in Chicago and Oak Lawn, Illinois. After a brief stint at art college, West worded as a producer for Jay-Z at Roc-A-Fella records. West helped produce hit singles for both Alicia Keys and Jay-Z before convincing Jay-Z to let him produce his own album. West debuted in 2004 with The College Drop Out, a commercial success that reached No. 2 on The Billboard 200. The College Drop Out was followed in 2007 And 2008 by chart toppers Graduation And 808’s & Heartbreak. His 2010 release, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, received rave reviews And critical acclaim. West followed those achievement with the 2013 album, Yeezus, which rose to No. 1 on The Billboard 200 And US R&B. As of 2017, West has won a total of 21 Grammy Awards. He is one of The most awarded musical artists of all time.
The Kanye West business portfolio includes hotels, a a potential apparel line, Fatburger Restaurants, a Chicago chain, Yeezy retail shops, a creative content company named DONDA, as well as an ownership stake in JayZ’s Tidal Streaming venture. His philanthropic efforts are run by his Kanye West Foundation. It was formed to benefit education for Latino And African American children by battling illiteracy while shoring up community support for minorities. It appears that this 40-year-old‘s estimated net worth of $160 million will only continue to grow.
No. 8: Ronald Slim Williams- $ 170 Million Net Worth
Although the general public may not recognize Ronald ‘Slim’ Williams’ name, Ronald ‘Slim’ Williams is rap mogul who is a household name in the world of rap, hip-hop and R&B. Born on May 23, 1967, in New Orleans, Louisiana, Slim co-founded Cash Money Records in 1991 with his younger brother, rapper Bryan ‘Birdman’ Williams.
Cash Money launched not only Birdman’s career, but also Lil Wayne, whose talent Birdman recognized And fostered when Lil Wayne was only 11 years old. Cash Money continues to attract, promote And sign premiere hip-hop talent. Its client base now includes Drake, Nicki Minaj, Rich Gang, Young Money, and Jacquees. Most recently, Cash Money signed a deal to bring Paris Hilton on board as spokesperson for the Cash Money brand
Slim was featured in February 2009 on Newbos: The Rise of America’s New Black Overclass, a documentary featuring black multi-millionaires. With a 2017 estimated net worth of $170 million, Cash Money Records is diversifying its artistic interests into books (Cash Money Content) And films (Cash Money Films). Slim Williams shows no signs of slowing down as a visionary entrepreneur/executive producer whose financial empire will continue to explode.
No. 7: Usher – $180 Million Net Worth
Born October 14, 1978, in Dallas, Texas, Usher Raymond IV was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee And Atlanta, Georgia. He was only 14 years old when he auditioned And was signed by L.A. Reid of LaFace Records. His 1994 album debut, Usher, was co-produced with Diddy. Its first song, “Thinking of You,” went No. 1 And earned him a gold label. His 2001 release, 8701, contained three hit singles, which earned two Grammys, three Billboard Music Awards, And a BET Award. It has been certified four times platinum by The RIAA. Ten years later, Usher released Confessions, a rave review release that has sold over 20 million copies worldwide. Confessions earned Usher three Grammys, three World Music Awards, And two MTV Video Awards.
Usher excels at acting as well as music. From his 2006 run on Broadway, starring as Billy Flynn in the musical Chicago, to his role portraying Sugar Ray Leonard in the 2016 film Hands of Stone, Usher continues to explore personal frontiers in acting and music. His seventh studio album, Looking 4 Myself, expanded Usher’s stylistic repertoire by stepping outside his safe, normal Usher sound. It was well-received by critics. Usher’s vocal range, combined with agile emotional transitions, have allowed him to develop a unique blend of R&B/hip hop/and pop.
Financially Usher has diversified his income into sports, fragrances, record labels, and streaming. He is part owner of The Cleveland Cavaliers, a professional basketball team. In 2007 Usher partnered with two renowned parfumiers to develop the Usher He And Usher She fragrances. Those brands were released via a promotional ad with Martha Stewart. In 2008 Usher released UR for Men And UR for Women, which he followed with, VIP, in 2009. The revenue from The Cavaliers, perfume, Usher’s Tidal streaming, and his record sales firmly plant Usher’s 180 million net worth at No. 7 of The Top Twelve Richest Rappers.
No. 6: Eminem (Marshall Bruce Mathers III) – $210 Million Net Worth
Eminem, or Slim Shady as his alter ego is named, may not share JayZ’s or Diddy’s entrepreneurial genius, but he leads the pack as the best-selling rapper from the beginning of the 21st century to 2009 according to the US Nielsen Sound Scan. Like so many of rap’s best lyricists, Eminem was reared in the chaotic, drug-riddled, poverty-driven life characteristic of American inner city projects.
Eminem was Born October 17, 1972 in St. Joseph, Missouri to a 19 year old single mom. He never knew the father for whom he was named. His mother, Deborah Nelson, dragged Eminem from project to project and school to school as she struggled to survive. As a result, Eminem was perpetually on the outside, looking in, whether he lived in Missouri or Michigan. He was isolated, bullied and beaten at school. He failed the ninth grade three times because of truancy and poor grades. Eminem then dropped out of Lincoln High School at age 17 and turned his attention fully to rap, which he had been exploring since he was 14. He participated in open mic contests in lunchroom cafeterias and at The Hip-Hop Shop on West 7 Mile in Detroit. His efforts grew his reputation in a predominantly black genre to gain the respect Detroit’s rap underground.
In 1997 Eminem was discovered by Dr. Dre off a demo tape lying on Jimmy Lovine’s garage floor. Dre immediately signed Eminem to Aftermath Records. Aftermath released The Slim Shady LP in 1999. The Slim Shady LP earned Eminem two Grammy’s, four MTV Video Music Awards, and is a quadruple platinum album. In 2000 Eminem released The Marshall Mathers LP, whose highly autobiographical content is considered by some to make it one of the greatest rap albums of all time. It garnered Eminem a Grammy Award for Best Rap Album. It is also the fastest selling album in rap history. His musical achievements include ten No. 1 albums on The Billboard 200, And he has sold more than 172 million albums worldwide.
Although Eminem has influenced a generation of young rappers by his lyrical transparency and honesty, his forays into entrepreneurship have not matched his achievements in rap. Eminem has not parlayed his iconic brand into shoes, endorsements, fragrances, alcohol or clothing lines as his peers have done. Eminem continues down the classic artist’s path. He has written an autobiography, The Way I Am; created his own record label, Shady 12 And D12; acted in small roles, including appearances in Super Bowl commercials; And established The Marshall Mathers Foundation for disadvantaged youth. Record sales, including collaboration with other artists , plus work as an executive producer for such TV series as South Paw And Motor City, will continue to boost Eminem’s $210 million net worth.
No. 5: Master P – Percy Miller – $250 Million Net Worth
Percy “Master P” Miller was Born in 1969 in The Calliope Projects of New Orleans. The multi-talented Master P is a record producer, rapper, investor, film-maker, business mogul And former basketball star. Although Master P rarely headlines today with The Top Richest Rappers, he is conservatively estimated to have earnings around $250 million in 2017.
Master P is an entrepreneurial genius. Rap was a means to an end. Master P self-launched his multi-million dollar empire off $10,000 inherited through from the settlement of his grandfather’s wrongful death suit. He used this inheritance to lease a building that he remodeled into a record store. His business was named No Limit Records.
Master P quickly identified gangsta rap as a market niche ripe for development. Using street knowledge, coupled with native business savvy, Master P embarked on an ingenious marketing And branding plan. He drove his ‘hood to sell gangsta tapes And CD’s from the trunk of his car. He combined those sales with visionary branding techniques to create a marketing foundation strong enough to negotiate a groundbreaking distribution deal in 1996 with Priority Records. Master P’s company, No Limit Records, retained 100% ownership of its master recordings while keeping 85% of its record sales. Priority received only 15% for pressing and distributing those albums.
Master P influenced a generation of rappers by his business acumen. He was one of the first to focus on the retail potential of rap. He is the CEO of P. Miller Enterprises, a conglomerate; of No Limit Sports, a sports management company; of Money Mafia Clothing, an apparel line; and branded an energy drink for his hit “Make ‘Em Say Ughh!” Miller also formed a cable television network, “Better Black Television,” to create a media venue whose content focuses on positive messages to underprivileged black Americans.
Percy Miller may have taken a break from recording gangsta rap, but he has been investing wisely for 19 years. It appears that businesses classes Master P took at Merritt Junior College, plus native ability, have made this rapper an “Old G.” These sound investments will continue to keep Master P on the list, but he has stiff competition creeping up behind which could bump him down from his No. 5 perch.
No. 4: Russell Simmons – $325 Million Net Worth
Russell Simmons was born October 4, 1957. He is a NYC street hustler turned American business magnate. In 1977 Simmons heard Eddie Cheeba perform at Charles’ Gallery in Harlem. He immediately knew that he had found his calling. Hip hop would be his career.
That calling manifested in his alliance as co-founder of Def Jam Records. Rick Rubin began Def Jam in his dormitory at New York University. In 1983 Rubin met Simmons and shortly thereafter invited him to partner with Def Jams. LL Cool J and The Beastie Boys were two of Def Jam’s original artists. Their 1984 releases — “I Need a Beat” (LL Cool J)/“Rock Hard” (Beastie Boys) — led to a distribution deal with Columbia Records. This success fostered Def Jam’s growth and expanded label opportunities. Subsequently Lyor Cohen and Simmons created Rush Associated Labels, an umbrella label to handle Def Jam’s spin off business.
R&B and rap front runners Nice & Smooth, EPMD, Warren G, Slayer, as well as the more controversial Public Enemy, were released by Def Jam /RAL. As the decade ended, however, a DefJam leadership struggle ensued. Lyor Cohen ousted to Rick Rubin to become president of Def Jam. Rubin then split to form Def American but Simmons stayed on with Def Jam.
Despite multi-platinum releases from EPMD and Public Enemy, Def Jam ran into financial difficulties in 1992. Faced with financial failure, Def Jam sought investors. By 1994 Polygram had purchased Sony’s 50 percent stake in Def Jam. Four years later, during Universal Music Group acquisition of Polgram’s Def Jam interest, Simmons reportedly sold his remaining share of Def Jam for $100 – $120 million dollars. Simmons stayed on to help launch Def Jam South in order to handle Southern R&B artists represented by Disturbing tha Peace, including Ludacris, Bobby Valentino and Chingy. Simmons tapped Scarface in to run Def Jam South, which lasted from 1999 until Scarface’s resignation in 2003.
Today Simmons manages his own businesses, He contributes to GlobalGrind.com, a site that reviews upcoming rap entertainers, and to Huffpost. Simmons is a began, an ardent political activist and protector of animal rights. His parent company Rush Communications, Inc. includes over ten businesses plus three non-profits. Three of those businesses are clothing lines: Phat Farm, Tantris and Argylculture. Simmon’s hold on spot No. 4, with a $325 million net worth, appears solid into the foreseeable future.
No. 3: Jay-Z – Shawn Carter – $810 Million Net Worth
Drug dealer. Rapper. Entrepreneur extraordinaire. Jay-Z (Shawn Corey Carter) demonstrates that creative genius is not limited to a single talent nor by lack of formal education. With a 2017 Jay-Z net worth estimated at $810 million, he is locked in a neck-and-neck battle for The No. 1 spot of Richest Rapper with Diddy and Dre. These three epitomize “Blurred Lines” in the creation and maintenance of their financial empires.
Born December 4, 1969 in the Mercy Projects of New York City, Jay-Z was early life-trained in survival. His youthful career dealing drugs created shrewd business instincts and lucrative friendships. He attended George Westinghouse Career High School along with Busta Rhymes and the Notorious B.I.G. before transferring to Trenton Central High School. During this period he sold crack cocaine and was shot three times.
Although Jay-Z, like Master P, began his rap life by selling CD’s out of his car trunk, he became nationally recognized with the release of Reasonable Doubt in 1996. Distributed by Priority Records, this masterpiece features a track with The Notorious B.I.G. It was followed by his 2001 hit, The Blueprint, and in 2003 by Black, which was released at the opening of JayZ’s 40/40 Club. To date Jay Z has earned 21 Grammys, been ranked as The Greatest MC of all time, and has sold more than 100 million records.
JayZ’s 40/40 sports franchise as well as his endorsement deals with Armand de Brignac champagne And D’Usse cognac form three substantial revenue streams amplifying royalties earned from his records. This financial base seems destined only to increase. His $56 million dollar acquisition of Tidal Streaming Service helps preserve higher royalty streams for its affiliated musicians. A year later, Tidal is already generating a profit margin by amassing a three million subscriber base within a year of its launch. An unabated battle for first place on the Top Twelve Richest Rappers continues unabated.
No. 2: Diddy – Sean Combs – $820 Million Net Worth
Rap mogul Diddy (Sean Combs) arrived on planet earth on November 4, 1969. He rose from the streets of Harlem, New York to amass a 2017 net worth of $820 million. His 2017 annual earnings alone are estimated at $130 million. Diddy and JayZ jockey for No. 1 spot on Forbes annual list of Richest Celebrities. This year Diddy and JayZ were barely edged out by Dre, whose Beats earnings inched him ahead to earn Dre the No. 1 spot.
Diddy was reared by his mother, Janice, who worked three jobs to support her children. Diddy’s his father was murdered when he was only two years old. After Diddy graduated from Mount Saint Michael Academy in 1987, he attended Howard University in Washington, D.C. for two years. He dropped out of his business major in 1990 to return to the Big Apple. There he worked for a short period for Uptown Records, where he was integral in kick starting Mary J. Bilge and Jodeci’s careers.
Although Uptown fired him, Diddy survived that loss by carrying his recruit, the Notorious B.I.G., with him. He founded Bad Boy Entertainment with Arista Records in 1993. Bad Boy attracted such superstars as Mariah Carey, Lil Kim, and BoyzIIMen. In 1997 Diddy released No Way Out, his debut solo, for which he won a Grammy for Best Rap Album in 1998. No Way Out, a seven times platinum release, was followed by Forever in 1999, The Saga Continues in 2001, and Press Play in 2006. Diddy went on to earn two more Grammys as well as two MTV Video Music Awards.
By 1998 Diddy had turned his focus to investment of his earnings. He first ventured into fashion and introduced the “Sean John” and “Sean” clothing lines. Within four years, Diddy diversified his portfolio into television by becoming Executive Producer of MTV’s Making The Band. Investments in clothes and TV were later followed by endorsements for alcohol and investment in water. Diddy generates astronomical earnings from his endorsement of Ciroc vodka and DeLeon Tequila. In 2014 Diddy expanded his television interests to include Revolt TV. This was followed by a deal in 2016 to market alkaline water – Aquahydrate – with co-investors, Mark Wahlberg and Ron Burkle. Diddy’s climb to billionaire status seems likely to be realized within a year or two.
No. 1: Dr. Dre – $830 Million Net Worth
André Romelle Young (Dr. Dre) was Born February 18, 1965, in Compton, California. In 1986, he teamed up with Eazy-E, Ice Cube, and Arabian Prince to found N.W.A. (Niggaz Wit Attitude). This controversial group kick-started “gangsta rap” when Straight Outta Compton was released in 1988. Their lyrics exposed the excessive policing and racism that permeated the inner cities of America. Their lyrics spewed sex, violence, and drugs.
Dre’s unyielding commitment to gangsta rap propelled him from the Compton ghetto to Forbes assessment of a $830 million net worth in 2017. Apple’s 2014 purchase of Dre’s Beats for $3 billion jumped his financial empire to this stratospheric level. Dre and co-owner, Jimmy Levine, stayed on board as CEO’s of the Beats’ Apple division.
As a biographical movie, Straight Outta Compton provides a riveting depiction of Dre’s early life as a gangsta rapper. Known as Dr. Dre, Master of Mixology, Dre’s recording portfolio began with Straight Outta Compton (N.W.A. – Ruthless Records), followed by The Chronic (Death Row Records with Shuge Night). Both were groundbreaking albums. Their lyrics and beat altered the course of rap’s style and content. G-funk, Chronic’s new rap style, made it the sixth best-selling album of 1993. It has been certified triple platinum by the RIAA.
His N.W.A. experience with Ruthless and Priority record labels taught Dre that owning his music allowed him to control its production. In 1991 he co-founded the Death Row label with Shuge Knight, shortly after Knight strong-armed Easy E into Dre’s release from N.W.A. By 1996, Dre was able to shed Shuge Knight to start his own label, Aftermath Entertainment. Aftermath launched superstars Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and 50 Cent.
Dre will continue to jockey with Jay-Z and Diddy for first place on our list of the Top Twelve Richest Rappers. Royalties from his records, income from the sale of Beats, earnings from his position as CEO of Beats Electronics, guarantee Dre’s presence as one of the top three richest rappers. If Dre released another record of his own, one can only imagine how quickly he would jump to billionaire status.
The $4,215 billion combined net worth of the Top Twelve Richest rappers is greater than the $3,934.6 billion annual GPD of Germany, the fifth largest economy in the world. With earnings of this magnitude, on can anticipate that these artists and businessmen will continue to endow their philanthropic foundations to promote social justice for minorities and under privileged citizens of the world. As rap’s poetic voice is shared worldwide, opportunities for global understanding of how poverty affects violence will continue to grow.