The 2017 Forbes Rap List Shows Drake Has Passed Wayne & Has Birdman In His Sights
The 2017 rankings for the Top 5 wealthiest Hip-Hop artists have been released. Compiled through estimation and public record, Forbes and its longtime editor Zack O’Malley Greenburg take an annual look at the assets and estimated wealth surrounding some of Rap music’s leading artists, producers, and some of its multi-threat executives.
It’s still “All About The Benjamins” for Puff Daddy, who held his post at the top of the list. The Bad Boy Records founder is estimated by Forbes to be worth $820 million. Close behind is the artist he produced extensively for American Gangster: Jay Z, at $810 million. Jay’s Tidal investment appears to have grown immensely since January. Dr. Dre, who has histories with both Puff’ and Jigga, is in at #3 with an estimated worth of $740 million. For the time being, D-R-E’s Aftermath Entertainment label stamp is on the resounding #1 album in the country, Kendrick Lamar’s DAMN. While the 35-year Hip-Hop veteran has made critical strides in his portfolio through Beats By Dre headphones and Straight Outta Compton blockbusters, his label and music share appears to the most high profile since the early 2000s days of Eminem, 50 Cent, and Game.
#4 is where things get interesting. Like Dre, Birdman (aka Bryan Williams) juggles a music career with backing some of music’s stars. At $110 million, the Big Tymers co-founder has not released an album since 2009. What makes his money is backing Lil Wayne, Drake, and Nicki Minaj at Cash Money Records and Young Money Entertainment. Notably, Wayne is suing Birdman (once his legal guardian and reported father figure) for approximately half of that sum, $51 million. In nearly three years, the two parties have not been able to reach a settlement on allegedly withheld royalties surrounding C.M.R.’s 20-plus-year artist, who notably mentored Drizzy and Nicki.
For his part, Drake is actually ahead of Lil Wayne, technically his boss as the head of Young Money. What’s more, the Canadian artist is only $20 million behind Birdman, his “Money To Blow” collaborator and exec. With VIEWS, the top-selling Hip-Hop album of 2016, the Canadian MC/singer ranked at $90 million. In the public eye, Drake has maintained working relationships with Baby and Weezy F. Baby during the lawsuit and beef. Last year, Drake broke into the Top 5, bumping 50 Cent from his longtime post on the rankings.
While Wayne, previously a fixture on the list has not gotten his money, he alluded to partnering with Jay Z’s Roc Nation in the last month. Previously, Birdman and Cash Money cease-and-desisted Wayne from releasing Free Weezy exclusively through Tidal.
In somewhat related news, Birdman was publicly called out by past collaborator Rick Ross on 2017’s “Idols Become Rivals.” Ross, a close associate of Wayne’s, aimed to decry Birdman’s bad business dealings with Weezy, DJ Khaled, B.G., and a host of producers in a public forum. Many believe that the 25-plus-year rapper and executive (who shares the company with brother, Ronald “Slim” Williams) responded on Sy Ari Da Kid’s “Wire Transfer From Birdman”:
On the indie record from the Atlanta, Georgia MC, Birdman spits no bars, but talks about the situation via ad-libs. Sy Ari, said to be Cash Money’s next MC, also touts that he has no problem retrieving his revenue. Clearly, Birdman embraces his reputation, no matter how legal and how publicized it may have gotten.