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by R. Asmerom

Forbes recently published a list of Hip-Hop’s top earning musicians and although the results weren’t too surprising, it was, nonetheless, interesting. Once again, the list affirmed that diversification in business rather than record sales was key to earning power.  Jay-Z and Diddy claimed the top two spots and it’s no secret that was what they were aiming for. Diddy’s job is to stay relevant and exploit the spotlight for maximum gain. The term “brand” is used to describe anyone famous these days but although Diddy is indeed a mogul, he’s not the best person to represent the art of brand building. Being everywhere and doing everything 24/7 from marathons to reality shows to Ciroc ads to restaurants doesn’t necessarily make him the most crafty businessman but certainly continues to earn him the title of the busiest man in hip-hop.

Jay-Z, who took the number one spot on the list, is a little more discerning. Whereas Diddy makes very little money (comparatively) from his music, Jay-Z’s musical talent is still a large part of his success. His reputation as one of the genre’s greatest lyricists maintains a high level of respect from fans worldwide and has helped him score his lucrative $150 million deal with the concert company Live Nation after all. And, of course, he’s got a lot of well-known business ventures under his belt.

Number 3 on the list is Akon. This may seem surprising to many who didn’t know that the biggest pop star in the world right now, Lady Gaga, is signed to his record label Konvict Muzik. Without Gaga, Akon would probably not have made it to the top 10 and earned more than the ubiquitous Lil Wayne.

Speaking of the 4th leading earner on the list, Wayne’s earnings are probably the most straight forward. His strategy is very focused on making and selling music. Without a fashion label or high-profile endorsements, Wayne’s $20 million in earnings is quite impressive. He’s one of the few artists who can be relied on for big album sales in a time when albums are selling less and less. Not to mention, Wayne does have a roster of new talent under his Young Money label that are helping to propel the Cash Money empire. Drake, the #11 earner on the list, and Nicki Minaj are two of the most successful new artists on the scene, which says a lot about Wayne’s talent as a curator.

At number 5, super producer Dr. Dre is especially notable for his low-profile persona and his long-time and consistent success as a beatmaker in the industry. He shows that you don’t have to make a lot of noise in front of the cameras to be successful in the hip-hop game.

Here’s the full list of Hip-Hop Cash Kings for 2010 from

1. Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter: $63 Million

2. Sean “Diddy” Combs: $30 million

3. Aliuane “Akon” Thiam: $21 million

4. Dwayne “Lil Wayne” Carter: $20 million

5.Andre “Dr. Dre” Young: $17 million

6. Christopher “Ludacris” Bridges: $16 million

7. Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus: $15 million

8. Timothy “Timbaland” Mosley: $14 million

9. Pharrell Williams: $13 million

10. Kanye West: $12 million

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