Hip-Hop is big business.

What was once considered a niche musical sound has become the soundtrack of our lives.

And the genre’s best-known artists have become all the richer for it.

“Hip-hop has, and always will, set trends,” says Kim Kaupe, founder of the creative agency Bright Ideas Only, to Variety. “Brands realize they can no longer sit on the sidelines and test what ‘might’ work. They need to be in the mix testing partnerships and trends before they have the data to back it up.”

Certainly, too, some rappers do far better than others — and indie rappers, like Tech N9ne, can still make a six-figure salary for themselves. According to Variety, Tech N9ne’s earnings come from an eight-figure digital catalog deal — a deal that was previously unreported to mainstream outlets.

But, as one might imagine, the marquee-name rappers — like Drake and Kanye — make the biggest bucks. What’s more, rappers who diversify their portfolios — like Jay-Z and Wiz Khalifa — can continue to make money long after their touring days are over. And even in the midst of the pandemic, the right mindset and work ethic can take you further than a few sloppily-promoted singles and pie-in-the-sky dreams. For example, Birdman didn’t release a single song, record a single note, or play a single live show. Yet, he’s in a three-way tie with other rappers just off of his residuals alone (Ownership is, indeed, the biggest wealth builder — and that’s true whether it comes in the form of tangible property, like a home, or an intangible property, like a song catalog).

And still, other rappers made their fortunes by investing, wisely, in the burgeoning tech world. Doja Cat has made some coins off of her NFT projects, and Drake has some crypto cakes to call his own.

Here, then, are the top 10 Hip-Hop earners of 2021.


Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris

Ranking: No. 1

Earnings: $470 million

H to the Izzo. Hova. Shawn Carter. Beyoncé’s husband. Jay-Z.

No matter what you call him, he’s the modern-day Hip-Hop GOAT.

His investments, business moves, and music have only made this billionaire $470 million richer.

And nobody deserves it more.

Kanye West

Photo Credit: Dimitrios Kambouris

Ranking: No. 2

Earnings: $250 million

Kan-yeezy still keeps the money flowing — to the tune of $250 million — in the heart of the controversy. And that, really, is a testament to his genius (or, should we say, “jeen-yuhs?”).


Photo Credit: Larry Busacca

Ranking: No. 3

Earnings: $75 million

Can’t nobody hold him down! Diddy has his own investment firm, reclaimed ownership of his classic Sean John clothing brand, and set his children up for financial success. Those are just a few of the many ways that he earned $75 million in 2021 alone.


Photo Credit: Kevin Winter

Ranking: No. 4

Earnings: $50 million

From crypto to Daring Chicken, the “Controlla” rapper knows how to keep the cash flowing. Drake‘s $200 million estimated net worth can only be compounded by his $50 million earnings in 2021.

Wiz Khalifa

Photo Credit: Scott Dudelson

Ranking: No. 5

Earnings: $45 million

Unsurprisingly, Wiz Khalifa made his “Kush & Orange Juice” lifestyle pay off for him. In addition to his estimated $60 million net worth, his canna-friendly businesses and other investments brought him a handsome $45 million annual paycheck.

Travis Scott

Travis Scott CACTI
Photo Credit: Taylor Hill

Ranking: No. 6

Earnings: $38 million

Travis Scott managed to achieve a $38 million salary for 2021.

J. Cole

Photo Credit: Paras Griffin

Ranking: No. 9

Earnings: $27 million

Even without the ability to tour thanks to the pandemic, J. Cole continues to make bank. His $27 million salary only adds to his estimated $60 million net worth, and he just announced new dates for the Dreamville 2022 festival, per Pitchfork.


Photo Credit: Jerod Harris

Ranking: No. 10 (three-way tie)

Earnings: $25 million

The Young Money capo‘s estimated $100 million net worth added another $25 million to its piggy bank this year.

Doja Cat

Photo Credit: Kevin Winter

Ranking: No. 10 (three-way tie)

Earnings: $25 million

Doja Cat has diversified her business moves outside of the music industry. From partnering with Girls Who Code to create a codable music video to her various NFT investments,  the woman born Amala Ratna Zandile Dlamini continues to prove that her head is all about her business.

Tech N9ne

Photo Credit: Scott Dudelson

Ranking: No. 10 (three-way tie)

Earnings: $25 million

The man born Aaron Dontez Yates is the living, breathing definition of getting money and minding your business. He’s the only independent artist on this list, and needless to say, his reaction to his initial inclusion wasn’t surprising to him.

“When you’re just working with your head down minding your business and you pop up on someone’s list!” he wrote on Instagram.