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Diddy Tops Forbes’ Hip Hop’s 5 Wealthiest Artists List

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Sean “Diddy” Combs ranks No. 1 on this year’s Forbes Five list of hip-hop’s wealthiest artists with an estimated fortune of $700 million, an increase of $120 million over his net worth last year. The change comes largely from the addition of Revolt TV—the new, music-focused, multi-platform channel of which he’s the majority owner—to his already-hefty portfolio.  “Right now my focus is Revolt and making it the number one, most-trusted, most credible worldwide brand for music,” he told FORBES in a recent interview. “And to get Revolt to be the quintessential definition of real time. I think that’s the future.” 

Diddy is also set to give this year’s commencement speech at Howard University, his alma mater (although he eventually dropped out). Diddy will also receive an honorary degree for being a trailblazer in his field. Last year, after he donated $250,000 to The Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship, he told the aspiring, young business owners:

I understood that it was being an entrepreneur, I understood that that was my career path. Being an entrepreneur means freedom, it means independence. It means being invested and believing in myself.[…]I did the research and did the work to make sure that I was a master in whatever category I went into, too. If I went into apparel, I wanted to know everything about that. I went into spirits, so I knew everything about that. I’m starting Revolt, and I’m still learning on that one. [Laughs] But it’s about starting a brand, which I’m a specialist at.

I think it’s easier now [to start a company]. Over the years, entrepreneurs — people take it as a serious career and respect entrepreneurs, because they’re risk takers. Now people celebrate entrepreneurship.

Before, it was just, ‘That guy’s crazy! He needs to get a real job!’

Dr. Dre ranks second on the Forbes list with $550 million thanks to a large stake in Beats By Dr. Dre, which he cofounded with Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine in 2008. The company controls an astounding two-thirds of the premium headphone market, with annual sales reportedly in excess of $1 billion and growing. Private equity firm Carlyle invested $500 million for a minority stake last year, pushing Beats’ value past $1 billion and likely closer to $2 billion.

Jay Z is in third place with an estimated $520 million. Much of his recent growth comes from Roc Nation, his record label and management firm that recently added a sports agency. The outfit gets a single-digit cut of pacts like Robinson Cano’s $240 million monster agreement.

Bryan “Birdman” Williams, whose net worth would be over $300 million if he didn’t share his fortune with brother Ronald “Slim” Williams, comes in at number 4. The duo cofounded Cash Money Records two decades ago; Cash Money continues to grow with a roster that includes Drake, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne. Birdman has also diversified with Cash Money Content, GT Vodka and the YMCMB clothing line.

Rounding out the list is 50 Cent, who owes most of his fortune to his $100 million haul from the sale of Vitaminwater in 2007. Now he’s trying to repeat the feat with companies like SMS Audio and SK Energy beverages. In the meantime, he’ll reboot his music career by taking his G-Unit Records independent and releasing new album Animal Ambition in June.

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