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How Kanye West Topped Drake to Become One of the World’s Richest Rappers

Samantha McDonald

Jay-Z may be hip-hop’s first billionaire, but his one-time protégé Kanye West is inching his way to the top. The mega-entertainer and producer has made Forbes‘ 2019 list of the richest musicians in rap, surpassing Drake to earn the No. 4 spot with a net worth of $240 million. Also included in the rankings are Sean “Diddy” Combs in the third spot, Dr. Dre at No. 2, and Jay Z in first place.

Drake, $150 Million

Last year, the Canadian rapper rounded out the top five in a tie with Eminem, each boasting earnings of $100 million. His fortune grew by 50% in 2019 to land at $150 million, largely thanks to the success of his Aubrey & the Three Migos Tour, and a residency at the XS Nightclub in Las Vegas. At 32 years old, Drake — who boasts investments in real estate and his Virginia Black Whiskey — is the youngest by a decade to make the list.

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Kanye West, $240 Million

It’s also been a banner year for West, who launched his wildly popular “Sunday Service” series in January to celebrate the 15th anniversary of his first album, “College Dropout.” His gospel performance at the 2019 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival debuted to much fanfare (and criticism) following the sale of high-priced apparel and accessories that still managed to draw hundreds of fans to the rapper’s merch booth in the Indio, Calif., desert.

The hype was expected, considering the global commotion already surrounding West’s lucrative business venture with sportswear giant Adidas. Since the release of the brand’s first shoe in 2015, the Adidas Yeezy 750 Boost “Grey,” the 42-year-old’s label gained an exponential following comprised of sneakerheads and trend watchers. Depending on the silhouette, Adidas Yeezy sneakers retail between the mid-$100s and -$200s, with resale prices reaching as high as the thousands. (Forbes explained that its accounting of West’s wealth is “predicated on a conservative estimate of that brand’s value.”) West has also opened a new incubator program to help create opportunities for emerging designers.

Ye also continues to draw headlines with his marriage to reality TV star Kim Kardashian, whose half-sister Kylie Jenner was named the youngest self-made billionaire at just 21. (According to the money magazine, sales for her namesake cosmetics line climbed 9% last year to an estimated $360 million, sending her company’s worth to about $900 million.)

Sean “Diddy” Combs, $740 Million

Sean “Diddy” Combs’ earned himself the No. 3 spot this year with a net worth of $740 million. While his net worth technically decreased in 2018, Diddy is still doing just fine. Much of the 49-year-old rapper’s income these days comes from his partnership with Ciroc as well as his cable network Revolt and his clothing line Sean John, which he sold to Global Brands Group Holding Ltd. in 2016.

The iconic hip-hop artist, who rose to fame in the ’90s, is known for inimitable work ethic. “Success doesn’t just land on your lap. You have to work, work, work, work, and work some more,” he has said.

Dr. Dre, $800 Million

Dr. Dre’s $800 million lands him the No. 3 spot on Forbes list. The producer and entrepreneur, who has worked with countless artists, is also well-known for his Beats by Dr. Dre headphone line, which he sold to Apple in 2014 for a whopping $3 billion. And while he has yet to take his talents to the shoe business, never say never. Fellow rapper The Game claimed that Dre is such a fan of Nike Air Force 1s that he wears them every day.

Jay Z, $1 Billion

Jay Z has earned the title of hip-hop’s first billionaire. While the rapper undoubtedly earned plenty from his joint “On the Run II” tour with wife Beyoncé last year, he also has a $70 million stake in Uber and is the owner of the streaming service Tidal and the sports management company Roc Nation. Last year he was named Puma’s president of basketball operations.

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