40 Richest Rappers of All Time
It's impossible to overstate the influence of rap on popular culture. Even though other genres of music had a head start, rap is a powerful force.
From rap's "golden age" in the 1980s to today's generation of social media-created stars, they all have one thing in common — boatloads of money.
These are the richest rappers of all time.
40. 50 Cent — $30 Million
Born: July 6, 1975 (Queens, New York)
Career highlights: Grammy Award winner, three-time BET Award winner, 13-time Billboard Music Award winner, two-time MTV Video Music Award winner
Best album: "Get Rich or Die Tryin" (2003)
Note: Numbers are from Celebrity Net Worth and other sources in February 2022.
Bottom Line: 50 Cent
There was nowhere you could go in the early 2000s without hearing the raspy, bullet-addled voice of Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent — and this was a good thing at the time.
In 2001, 50 Cent survived an attack that left him with six bullet wounds, including what the gunmen thought was a kill shot to the face. He returned with a different voice and a new determination to take over the world of rap.
Propelled by the backing of Eminem and Dr. Dre, his debut album "Get Rich or Die Tryin" sold almost 1 million copies in its first week and has been certified nine times platinum.
In Their Own Words: 50 Cent
"Everything negative is a positive. The bad things that happen to me, I somehow make them good. That means you can't do anything to hurt me." —50 Cent
39. Soulja Boy— $32 Million
Name:DeAndre Cortez Way
Born: July 28, 1990 (Chicago, Illinois)
Career highlights: Grammy Awards nominee, three-time BET Awards nominee, four-time Teen Choice Awards nominee
Best album: "souljaboytellem.com" (2007)
Bottom Line: Soulja Boy
It was impossible to ignore Soulja Boy's influence in the late 2000s thanks to the power of one song combined with the emergence of social media. "Crank That (Soulja Boy)" was a massive Billboard No. 1 hit in 2007, when he was just 16 years old.
While that earworm song came and went after a year or so, Soulja Boy has found a way to stay in our lives in the interim, mainly because he never stops working. One would think that Soulja Boy is absolutely tireless.
He's put out around 20 albums in the last 14 years.
In Their Own Words: Soulja Boy
"Swag defines an artist, period. ... I was one of the first artists to have a YouTube account, if not the first. I joined two months after the site launched." —Soulja Boy
38. Andre 3000 — $35 Million
Born: May 27, 1975 (Atlanta, Georgia)
Career highlights: Seven-time Grammy Award winner
Best album: "ATLiens" (1996)
Bottom Line: Andre 3000
The groundbreaking hip-hop duo Outkast was so ahead of the times in almost every aspect of their outward-facing lives — albums, fashion, political awareness — that they almost got overlooked.
Thanks to the talents of Big Boi and Andre 3000 that didn't happen, with the duo constantly breaking new ground with every release. Their success culminated in the "Speakerboxx/The Love Below" and featured Andre 3000's single "Hey Ya," which went No. 1 on charts not only in the U.S., but across the world.
Andre 3000 has also had an underrated acting career. He co-stars alongside Mark Wahlberg and Tyrese in one of the greatest revenge flicks of all time, the 2005 film "Four Brothers," directed by the late John Singleton.
In Their Own Words: Andre 3000
"I don't freestyle, but when I'm writing and thinking, sometimes things pop up — that's basically a freestyle." —Andre 3000
34. Nelly — $40 Million (Tie)
Name:Cornell Iral Haynes Jr.
Born: Nov. 2, 1974 (Austin, Texas)
Career highlights: Three-time Grammy Award winner, four-time American Music Award winner, BET Award winner, nine-time Billboard Music Award winner
Best album: "Country Grammar" (2000)
Bottom Line: Nelly
Nelly's debut album "Country Grammar" and its eponymous single turned hip-hop upside down in 2000, setting off nearly a decade of chart domination for the St. Louis native.
The reason Nelly's success was so unique and why his rise was probably so amazing to watch was he came of age at a time when rap was dominated by the East and West Coasts. A true Midwestern rapper was unheard of.
But Nelly's popularity stretched far from the hip-hop field. He ended up with No. 1 hits in country music as well and had a prominent supporting role in the 2005 Adam Sandler comedy remake "The Longest Yard," which grossed almost $200 million at the domestic box office.
In Their Own Words: Nelly
"Two is not a winner, and three nobody remembers. What does it take to be number one?" —Nelly
34. Rick Ross — $40 Million (Tie)
Name:William Leonard Roberts II
Born: Jan. 28, 1976 (Clarksdale, Mississippi)
Career highlights: Six-time Grammy Awards nominee, BET Awards nominee, The Source Award winner
Best album: "Teflon Don" (2010)
Bottom Line: Rick Ross
Rick Ross truly is the boss when it comes to self-promotion combined with chart-topping rap albums.
Ross' backstory is one of the great ones in rap history. He was a college football player at Albany State, then a correctional officer at a Florida prison before he found fame as a rapper.
What's crazy about that is Ross didn't find fame in his 20s, the age when most rappers traditionally become famous. Ross charted his first hit just past his 30th birthday.
In Their Own Words: Rick Ross
"How many people you bless is how you measure success." —Rick Ross
34. Future — $40 Million (Tie)
Name:Nayvadius DeMun Wilburn
Born: Nov. 20, 1983 (Atlanta, Georgia)
Career highlights: Grammy Award winner, BET Award winner, two-time American Music Awards nominee, five-time Billboard Music Awards nominee
Best album: "HNDRXX" (2017)
Bottom Line: Future
Future continually finds ways to reinvent himself as a rapper, which is no easy task considering the way many from the outside view the genre. But Future shows there's not just one way to do it.
From hits early in his career like "Same Damn Time" to ones like "Jumpman" and "High Off Life" in more recent years, you can't say there's just one way he's made a hit.
Critics of Future will say that he's relied too heavily on auto-tune throughout his career. Which is totally fair, but we still love the sound.
In Their Own Words: Future
"My hard work finally catching up with perfect timing." —Future
34. Daddy Yankee — $40 Million (Tied)
Name:Ramon Luis Ayala Rodriguez
Born: Feb. 3, 1976 (San Juan, Puerto Rico)
Career highlights: Four-time Grammy Awards nominee, six-time Latin Grammy Award winner, three-time American Music Award winner, eight-time Billboard Music Award winner
Best album: "Barrio Fino" (2004)
Bottom Line: Daddy Yankee
Daddy Yankee isn't just the King of Reggaeton. He's the one who invented the term reggaeton in the first place.
The rapping legend once a promising baseball player growing up in New York, but a gunshot wound to his leg ended his athletic career and pushed him toward music, where he's become one of the best-known recording artists in the world.
It all started with the 2004 hit "Gasolina," which was a worldwide No.1 hit. He's sold over 20 million albums since then.
In Their Own Words: Daddy Yankee
"I’m representing for Latinos all over the world. … This ain’t a one-hit-wonder thing. It’s just the beginning. And it’s a special moment for me and my culture." —Daddy Yankee
32. DMC — $45 Million (Tie)
Name:Darryl Matthews McDaniels
Born: May 31, 1964 (Harlem, New York)
Career highlights: Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, Grammy Award nominee, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Best album: "Raising Hell" (1986)
Bottom Line: DMC
One-third of the legendary rap group Run-DMC, Darryl McDaniels — also known as DMC — is considered one of the founding fathers of hip-hop culture.
What's incredible about DMC is his journey more than anything else. Much of Run-DMC's greatness was built around his vocal work and rapping skills, which pushed his voice (and his body) to extremes.
You can see a distinct drop-off in the group's sound with the album "Crown Royal" in 2001, when DMC begged out of contributing much after his voice began to go.
In Their Own Words: DMC
"You gotta find the thing that makes you feel good and just continually, nonstop, without apaycheck, [keep] doing that." —Darryl "DMC" McDaniels
32. Common — $45 Million (Tie)
Name:Lonnie Rashid Lynn
Born: March 13, 1972 (Chicago, Illinois)
Career highlights: Academy Award winner, Golden Globe winner, Emmy Award winner, three-time Grammy Award winner, four-time BET Award winner
Best album: "Be" (2005)
Bottom Line: Common
Few rappers on this list can claim to have made the perfect album. Common is one of them with "Be" in 2005, which is as close to perfect as anything anyone has ever produced.
What's separated Common from the pack is his ability to diversify. He's also won an Academy Award for Best Original Song and received another Academy Award nomination in the same category.
He's doubled his bottom line as an actor, appearing in films and television shows at an astounding clip over the last decade.
In Their Own Words: Common
"Never lookin' back or too far in front of me. The present is a gift, and I just wanna be." —Common
30. T.I. — $50 Million (Tie)
Name:Clifford Joseph Harris Jr.
Born: Sept. 25, 1980 (Atlanta, Georgia)
Career highlights: Three-time Grammy Award winner, three-time BET Award winner, 11-time Billboard Music Award winner, two-time Soul Train Music Award winner, MTV Video Music Award winner
Best album: "Trap Muzik" (2003)
Bottom Line: T.I.
T.I. has been in the game a long time. Years of chart-topping music and film and television appearances have made him very, very rich.
He's also escaped unscathed after being in the middle of a firestorm that included accusations of sexual abuse and multiple counts of cryptocurrency fraud that were investigated by the Securities and Exchange Commission.
He and his wife, Tiny, were not charged in the sexual abuse case, and he settled the claim that he pushed bogus cryptocurrency.
In Their Own Words: T.I.
"If you don't respect nothin' else, you will respect this hustle." —T.I.
30. Chamillionaire — $50 Million (Tie)
Name:Hakeem Temidayo Seriki
Born: Nov. 28, 1979 (Washington, D.C.)
Career highlights: Grammy Award winner, MTV Video Music Award winner, two-time BET Hip-Hop Award winner
Best album: "The Sound of Revenge" (2005)
Bottom Line: Chamillionaire
If there's one rapper on this list who we didn't expect to see here, it's Chamillionaire, who hasn't had a hit song in over a decade but came up alongside childhood friend and fellow super-rich rapper Paul Wall.
Making music is not the only way for a rapper to make money. Chamillionaire has focused on the business side of the industry for quite some time and made one notable investment that's brought him millions.
He put a considerable amount of money into ride-sharing service Lyft in 2013, before it went public, and continues to hold a significant stake in the company.
In Their Own Words: Chamillionaire
"A moment will pass, but a movement will last." —Chamillionaire
25. Wiz Khalifa — $60 Million (Tie)
Name:Cameron Jibril Thomas
Born: Sept. 8, 1987 (Minot, North Dakota)
Career highlights: Golden Globe Awards nominee, 10-time Grammy Awards nominee, three-time Billboard Music Award winner, BET Award winner, three-time American Music Awards nominee
Best album: "Rolling Papers" (2011)
Bottom Line: Wiz Khalifa
If loving Wiz Khalifa is wrong, we don't want to be right.
The ultra-talented Pittsburgh native came of age in the early 2010s and made close to a perfect album with "Rolling Papers" in 2011. He doubled down on that success with one of the smash hits of the decade when he teamed up with Charlie Puth for "See You Again" in 2015, which was No.1 on the Billboard charts for 12 weeks and earned the duo a Golden Globe Award nomination for Best Original Song.
All of that equals money in the bank for Khalifa.
In Their Own Words: Wiz Khalifa
"You don't need too many people to be happy. Just a few real ones who appreciate you for who you are." —Wiz Khalifa
25. Psy — $60 Million (Tie)
Born: Dec. 31, 1977 (Seoul, South Korea)
Career highlights: American Music Award winner, MTV Europe Music Award winner, People's Choice Awards nominee, World Music Award winner
Best album: "Psy 6 (Six Rules) Part 1" (2012)
Bottom Line: Psy
In the last decade there have been few greater music sensations than the rise of Korean rapper Psy and his 2012 hit "Gangnam Style," which became the most popular song in the world and the dance he invented with it became the worst thing we've ever seen.
We will give props to Psy for keeping it real as far as the title of the song. He was actually born in the Gangnam District in Seoul, South Korea. But the next time we hear that song again will be too soon.
In Their Own Words: Psy
"The world's most famous and popular language is music." —Psy
25. J. Cole — $60 Million (Tied)
Name:Jermaine Lamarr Cole
Born: Jan. 28, 1985 (Frankfurt, West Germany)
Career highlights: Grammy Award winner, 12-time Grammy Awards nominee, nine-time Billboard Music Award winner, eight-time BET Hip-Hop Award winner
Best album: "KOD" (2018)
Bottom Line: J.Cole
J. Cole can make a case as the greatest pound-for-pound rapper on this list. His gift is truly extraordinary in that sense.
Every single time J. Cole drops an album, it seems to shift the culture in the hip-hop industry in his direction, and it's been that way from the start. Each of J. Cole's first five albums debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, and his 2018 album "KOD" tied The Beatles as the album with the most simultaneous Billboard Hot 100 Top 20 hits with six.
Currently, he's playing professional basketball with the Rwanda Patriots in the NBA's Basketball Africa League, continuing a long line of celebrities who become famous enough that they convince themselves they're also professional athletes.
In Their Own Words: J.Cole
"Anything's possible. You gotta dream like you never seen obstacles." —J. Cole
25. Ice-T — $60 Million (Tie)
Name:Tracy Lauren Marrow
Born: Feb. 16, 1958 (Newark, New Jersey)
Career highlights: Two-time Grammy Award winner, MTV Movie Award nominee, two-time NAACP Image Award winner
Best album: "Rhyme Pays" (1987)
Bottom Line: Ice-T
Ice-T has shown a nonstop work ethic that's kept him relevant in the public eye since the mid-1980s — first as a rapper, then as a film and television star.
One of the most controversial rappers of all time caused waves with his song "Cop Killer" in the 1980s, then parlayed that into a role in the legendary (and underrated) 1991 film "New Jack City."
Where Ice-T has really brought home the cash is spending the last 21 years (you read that right) in a starring role on "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" since 2000.
In Their Own Words: Ice-T
"If you believe that I'm a cop killer, you believe David Bowie is an astronaut." —Ice-T
25. Rev. Run — $60 Million (Tie)
Name:Joseph Ward Simmons
Born: Nov. 14, 1964 (New York City, New York)
Career highlights: Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, Grammy Award nominee, Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Best album: "Raising Hell" (1986)
Bottom Line: Rev. Run
Rev. Run made his name as one-third of the rap group Run-DMC in the 1980s and got a big lift from his brother, Russell Simmons, the co-founder of Def Jam Records.
Run-DMC was one of the pioneers of rap music in the 1980s — the "golden age" of rap — and transitioned into elder statesmen of the game quite easily. Rev saw a big uptick in his earnings with his success on reality television as it boomed in the mid-2000s.
His MTV reality series "Run's House" was an enormous hit and led to several more reality series for him.
In Their Own Words: Rev. Run
"When you're grateful, you have no time to be mad or hateful." —Rev. Run
24. Nas — $70 Million (Tie)
Name:Nasir bin Olu Dara Jones
Born: Sept. 14, 1973 (Brooklyn, New York)
Career highlights: Two-time BET Hip Hop Award winner, 15-time Grammy Award nominee
Best album: "Illmatic" (1994)
Bottom Line: Nas
Hands down one of the greatest lyricists of all time, Nas came out the bat with perhaps the greatest rap album of all time with the 1994 smash "Illmatic" when he was just 21 years old.
Nas somehow managed to navigate the next two-plus decades of hip hop (and epic beefs) by keeping himself just one step ahead of the competition on the mic.
What few people know is that Nas founded his own venture capital firm that hit big with investments in companies like Lyft and Dropbox.
In Their Own Words: Nas
"I pledge allegiance to the fair and balanced truth. Not the biased truth. Not the liest truth. But the highest truth. ... If the truth is told, the youth can grow." —Nas
21. DJ Khaled — $75 Million (Tie)
Name:Khaled Mohamed Khaled
Born: Nov. 26, 1975 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Career highlights: Grammy Award, MTV Video Music Award, 13-time BET Hip Hop Award winner, American Music Award
Best album: "We The Best" (2007)
Bottom Line: DJ Khaled
DJ Khaled's rise to one of the richest rappers of all time is really something to behold considering he got his start as an actual radio DJ in Miami in the 1990s and made the transition to being an artist with a big assist from the internet.
Rising to fame as a producer, DJ Khaled has banked almost as much cash by being a marketable celebrity in the internet age — most notably on his Snapchat account.
Oh, and did we mention he's a bestselling author? His book "The Keys" landed on the New York Times bestseller list.
In Their Own Words: DJ Khaled
"You want my advice? Don't play yourself." —DJ Khaled
21. Will.i.am — $75 Million (Tie)
Name:William James Adams Jr.
Born: March 15, 1975 (Los Angeles, California)
Career highlights: Seven-time Grammy Award winner
Best album: "The E.N.D." (2009)
Bottom Line: Will.i.am
Hey, we're as annoyed as you to see this guy on here. Because the music, by all accounts, is mostly trash.
Of all the artists on the list, Will.i.AM has probably experienced the most straightline success on Top 40 radio thanks to the group he formed, The Black Eyed Peas, becoming one of the most well-known groups in the world in the 2000s.
There's something to be said for being smart enough to be the one who grabs the CEO label from the start. They're usually the one who cashes the biggest checks.
In Their Own Words: Will.i.am
"Black Eyed Peas haven't changed at all — we just got smarter. I hit the target like a marksman now. The turning point was meeting the cats in different marketing agencies. I started looking at Black Eyed Peas as a brand, not a band." —Will.i.am
21. Kendrick Lamar — $75 Million (Tie)
Name:Kendrick Lamar Duckworth
Born: June 17, 1987 (Compton, California)
Career highlights: 13-time Grammy Award winner, Pulitzer Prize Award, Academy Award nominee, Golden Globe Award nominee, 12-time MTV Video Music Award winner, 19-time BET Hip Hop Award winner
Best album: "DAMN." (2017)
Bottom Line: Kendrick Lamar
DAMN is right. Few artists in rap history have hit the scene with the resounding impact of Kendrick Lamar, who already can count himself among the greatest lyricists of all time.
Born and raised in Compton, California, Lamar grew up idolizing none other than Dr. Dre, Tupac Shakur and Snoop Dogg — influences that we easily see playing out in his music.
Where will Kendrick Lamar be on this list in 10 years? All three of his studio albums have made their way to Rolling Stone's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time, he's already been nominated for an Oscar, Golden Globe and won 13 Grammy Awards. At just 33 years old.
In Their Own Words: Kendrick Lamar
"The hardest thing — for not only an artist but for anybody to do — is look themselves in the mirror and acknowledge, you know, their own flaws and fears and imperfections and put them out there in the open for people to relate to it." —Kendrick Lamar
19. Nicki Minaj — $80 Million (Tie)
Name:Onika Tanya Maraj
Born: Dec. 8, 1982 (Saint James, Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago)
Career highlights: Five-time MTV Video Music Award winner, four-time People's Choice Award winner, eight-time American Music Award winner, 10-time Grammy Award nominee, eight-time BET Hip Hop Award winner
Best album: "Pink Friday" (2010)
Bottom Line: Nicki Minaj
Nicki Minaj ascended to superstar status throughout the 2010s, to the point where she became one of the biggest names in the music industry. To that end, she's been described by many as being the greatest female rapper of all time.
You can't throw a rock in the direction of any great hip-hop album in the 2010s without getting (hopefully) a listen to a collaboration with Minaj, but that isn't the only way she's been able to produce income.
Minaj's music is most definitely for an older (over 18) crowd, but that hasn't stopped her from being one of the most marketable artists in the world. She's cut deals as a pitchwoman with MAC makeup, H&M, Fendi and Mattel, among others.
In Their Own Words: Nicki Minaj
"Shoutout to my hater. Sorry that you couldn't phase me." —Nicki Minaj
19. Akon — $80 Million (Tie)
Name:Aliaune Damala Badara Akon Thiam
Born: April 16, 1973 (St. Louis, Missouri)
Career highlights: American Music Award, BET Hip Hop Award, Billboard Music Award, five-time Grammy Award nominee, five-time MTV Video Music Award nominee
Best album: "Konvicted" (2006)
Bottom Line: Akon
Anyone who loved music in the mid-2000s knows the sweet sound of Akon switching back and forth from both singing to rapping on classic tracks like "Locked Up" and "Smack That" with Eminem.
And while we're sure that Akon's musical talent is on par with the very best on this list, we're still a little confused as to how he's managed to bank $80 million in that time.
One possible source of income definitely gives us pause. He's reportedly invested heavily in African diamond mines and denied the existence of "blood diamonds" for years before finally acquiescing.
In Their Own Words: Akon
"Everything is a blessing to me." —Akon
Name:Timothy Zachary Mosley
Born: March 10, 1972 (Norfolk, Virginia)
Career highlights: Four-time Grammy Award winner, BET Hip Hop Award, four-time MTV Video Music Award nominee
Best album: "Shock Value" (2007)
Bottom Line: Timbaland
Do we appreciate Timbaland's contribution to music enough? Probably not, but he's got an estimated $85 million to soothe those wounds.
Timbaland was one of the premier producers in hip-hop beginning in the 1990s with Missy Elliott and then generated worldwide fame as the producer on back-to-back smash hit albums for Justin Timberlake with "FutureSexLoveSounds" and "The 20/20 Experience" in the early 2000s.
Timbaland's also had the benefit of having the power of the pen. He's written almost 200 songs that have made the Billboard charts both in the U.S. and overseas.
In This Own Words: Timbaland
"My style is to take something unexpected and make it into a hit." —Timbaland
15. Pitbull — $90 Million (Tie)
Name: Armando Christian Perez
Born: Jan. 15, 1981 (Miami, Florida)
Career highlights: Grammy Award winner, three-time MTV Video Music Award winner, two-time Billboard Music Award winner, People's Choice Award winner
Best album: "Dale" (2016)
Bottom Line: Pitbull
Pitbull's wealth could grow exponentially in the near future. He's essentially in the prime of his career as a performing artist.
The Miami native began putting out albums starting in 2001, but it wasn't until his fourth album, "Rebelution" in 2009, that he began to experience massive worldwide success.
Pitbull is another great example of a rapper coming into his prime in the social media era and making a massive amount of money off it. His YouTube videos alone have generated over 15 billion views, and he has one of the largest social media followings of any artist in the world.
In Their Own Words: Pitbull
"I already had three strikes against me. One, I have light skin. Two, I'm from Miami, which wasn't getting looked at at the time. Three, I'm Cuban. But now, I've made everything that stacked against me into a virtue." —Pitbull
15. Mike D — $90 Million (Tie)
Name:Michael Louis Diamond
Born: Nov. 20, 1965 (New York City, New York)
Career highlights: Three-time Grammy Award winner, four-time MTV Video Music Award winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Best album: "Ill Communication" (1994)
Bottom Line: Mike D
One-third of the legendary rap group the Beastie Boys, Mike D shared in the success that led to 40 million in album sales and three Grammy Awards.
It's not hard to see why Mike D was drawn to being an artist in the manner that he was. He grew up in an affluent family on Central Park West that made a fortune as premier art dealers in the world.
If you've ever listened to a Beastie Boys album and were blown away by the beats that featured drums so prominently, we have Mike D to thank because he was the one manning the sticks.
In Their Own Words: Mike D
"Dub has been a big influence in terms of production. It's inspired so many people and so much music — in terms of music where the mixing desk was the instrument. Central to that is the echo chamber, and I think there's a little bit of a romantic thing there." —Mike D
15. Ad-Rock — $90 Million (Tie)
Name:Adam Keefe Horowitz
Born: Oct. 31, 1966 (New York City, New York)
Career highlights: Three-time Grammy Award winner, four-time MTV Video Music Award winner, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame
Best album: "Ill Communication" (1994)
Bottom Line: Ad-Rock
Ad-Rock was the final piece to the Beastie Boys when he joined the group in 1982. Together with Mike D and MCA, they created one of the greatest rap groups of all time, and four years later, the trio were international superstars following the release of the "Licensed to Ill" album.
Perhaps the biggest reason that the Beastie Boys were able to sustain their success over decades was their ability to adapt. They weren't simply trying to replicate what they did on their last album.
"I don't know why we sold a lot of records or why so many people came to see us," Ad-Rock explained with classic Beasties self-deprecation. "Like 'Sabotage.' Would you put that song on, like, 'I'm gonna listen to that right now?' It's a weird choice."
Partners all the way, it's no surprise that both Ad-Rock and Mike D have the same net worth.
In Their Own Words: Ad-Rock
"It takes a lot of guts to get on stage." —Ad-Rock
13. Swizz Beatz — $100 Million (Tie)
Born: Sept. 13, 1978 (New York City, New York)
Career highlights: Grammy Award, BET Hip Hop Award, BET Award
Best album: "One Man Band Man" (2007)
Bottom Line: Swizz Beatz
If you look at a list of the greatest rap songs of the last 20 years, you'll find the imprint of Swizz Beatz all over them. There's a reason Kanye West once called him "the best rap producer of all time."
Swizz sold his first beat to DMX — the classic "Ruff Ryders Anthem" — and was producing songs for Jay-Z when he was just a teenager.
More importantly, we have Swizz Beatz to thank (and he has checks to cash) for the wildly successful "Verzuz" web series pitting rappers and musicians against each other playing their own catalogs.
"Set your business plan to win," he once said. "Raise the bar or you're not going to be prepared. You need to think that what you're doing will make you $100 million."
In Their Own Words: Swizz Beatz
"I started off as a graffiti artist in the South Bronx. My tag name was 'Loco' because I would go crazy and tag anywhere I wanted, in the weirdest places." —Swizz Beatz
13. Birdman — $100 Million (Tie)
Name:Bryan Christopher Brooks
Born: Feb. 15, 1969 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Career highlights: Grammy Award nominee, BET Viewer's Choice Award
Best album: "Hood Rich" (2002)
Bottom Line: Birdman
Birdman's fortune comes more from his acuity as a producer than a rapper. He had his most success on the mic as part of Big Tymers alongside Mannie Fresh.
Where Birdman really cashed in was as the co-founder and CEO of Cash Money Records in the 1990s, when he guided the careers of superstars like Lil Wayne, Juvenile, Nicki Minaj and Drake at one time or another.
Birdman's earning power isn't what it used to be, however, as a long-running legal dispute between Lil Wayne and Cash Money Records included accusations that Birdman tried to have Lil Wayne killed at one point.
In Their Own Words: Birdman
"I just love cars. I've been like that since I was a kid. It's an infatuation because we grew up poor. Cars was something we were always trying to get." —Birdman
12. LL Cool J — $120 Million
Name:James Todd Smith
Born: Jan. 14, 1968 (Long Island, New York)
Career highlights: Two-time Grammy Award winner, two-time MTV Video Music Award winner, four-time NAACP Image Award winner, three-time Soul Train Music Award winner
Best album: "Mama Said Knock You Out" (1990)
Bottom Line: LL Cool J
Like many rappers on this list, LL Cool J started off as a music phenom and made the leap to a lucrative career acting and producing.
LL Cool J released his first solo album, "Radio," when he was just 17 years old after dropping out of high school and became one of the stars of rap's "golden age" in the 1980s.
As an actor, LL Cool J has had middling success in films but struck paydirt when he landed a role on "NCIS: Los Angeles" in 2009. Thirteen years later, he's been featured in 289 episodes at a reported salary of $350,000 per episode.
In Their Own Words: LL Cool J
"I feel like my peers now are artists like Madonna and the Stones, Michael Jackson and Prince. These are people who were able to take their careers beyond the normal here-today-gone-tomorrow lifespan." —LL Cool J
9. Snoop Dogg — $150 Million (Tie)
Name:Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr.
Born: Long Beach, California (Oct. 20, 1971)
Career highlights: 17-time Grammy Award nominee, American Music Award, BET Award, Emmy Award nominee
Best album:"Doggystyle" (1993)
Bottom Line: Snoop Dogg
Where did the time go? Snoop Dogg has been in the lives of rap fans for 30 years, first coming to our attention on several guest spots on Dr. Dre songs and "The Chronic" before shooting into the stratosphere with his debut solo album "Doggystyle" in 1993.
If you want to trace the roots of Snoop's fortune, you can point directly to an artist with perhaps the most dogged (pun intended) work ethic in the business. In 30 years, Snoop has put out 17 solo albums and an additional seven collaboration albums, along with a myriad of lucrative guest spots.
As an actor, he's been even more prolific. His IMDb boasts a staggering 234 acting credits spread across films and television roles in that same time.
In Their Own Words: Snoop Dogg
"If it’s flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, be the best hamburger flipper in the world. Whatever it is you do, you have to master your craft." —Snoop Dogg
9. Pharell — $150 Million (Tie)
Name:Pharell Lanscilo Williams
Born: April 5, 1973 (Virginia Beach, Virginia)
Career highlights: 13-time Grammy Award winner, four-time BET Award winner, MTV Video Music Award, two-time Academy Award nominee, five-time Soul Train Music Award winner
Best album: "In Search Of…" (2001)
Bottom Line: Pharell
Pharell Williams has never been just a rapper. It's a small part of what he does in the music industry, where he's had success as a singer, producer and musician on some of the biggest hits in history.
Pharell's initial success came with the rock group N.E.R.D. and The Neptunes — try to get "Frontin" out of your head after you listen to it once — and then as a solo artist.
He's strengthened his bottom line by his clothing line, with the ultra-stylish Billionaire Boys Club.
In Their Own Words: Pharell
"Intake is everything. And that is, that’s where you start to realize your ego has no business in our business. Once you think you know everything, it’s only a matter of time. So I will forever remain a student" —Pharrell Williams
9. Lil Wayne — $150 Million (Tie)
Name:Dwayne Michael Carter Jr.
Born: Sept. 27, 1982 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Career highlights: Five-time Grammy Award winner, 16-time BET Hip Hop Award winner, two-time MTV Video Music Award winner, four-time Billboard Music Award winner
Best album: "Tha Carter III" (2008)
Bottom Line: Lil Wayne
Lil Wayne is one of the greatest rappers of all time and one of the most influential pop culture icons as well. His style has influenced a whole generation and seen his fame expand to well outside the music industry.
Lil Wayne was rapping for Cash Money Records and mentor Birdman by the time he was 9 years old and a member of the Hot Boys alongside Juvenile, B.G. and Turk by the time he was 14.
As a solo artist, Lil Wayne has sold albums at a historical rate, passing over 100 million records sold on 13 albums, and in 2012, he passed Elvis Presley as the artist with the most appearances on the Billboard 100 chart.
In Their Own Words: Lil Wayne
"Honestly, I don’t listen to nobody else’s music but my own. It’s kind of like sports to me. You don’t see Kobe Bryant at a LeBron James game – he just works on his own game. And that’s what I do. I only listen to me, so I can criticize and analyze and all those things." —Lil Wayne
8. Ice Cube — $160 Million
Born: June 15, 1969 (Los Angeles, California)
Career highlights: BET Hip Hop Award, Hollywood Walk of Fame, Blockbuster Entertainment Award winner
Best album: "The Predator" (1992)
Bottom Line: Ice Cube
Few rappers have influenced pop culture like Ice Cube, who shot to fame as a teenager in Compton, California, as a member of NWA, the most famous rap group of all time.
Ice Cube struck out on his own with several critically acclaimed and hugely successful solo albums in the 1990s, but his talents went beyond music.
Beginning with the Academy Award-nominated film "Boyz N The Hood" in 1992, he's carved out a staggeringly successful acting career. Ice Cube wrote, produced and starred in the comedy classic "Friday" in 1995 and has starred in and produced films totaling more than $1.1 billion in worldwide box office in his career.
In Their Own Words: Ice Cube
"My grandmother worked at one of those Bel-Air mansions, and we would go — not too often, but every now and then — to pick her up. Hollywood was probably 12 miles from my house, but it might as well have been a million miles away. The only time I saw that world was on TV. Until I started making records." —Ice Cube
7. Drake — $180 Million
Name:Aubrey Drake Graham
Born: Oct. 24, 1986 (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
Career highlights: Four-time Grammy Award winner, five-time American Music Award winner, 19-time BET Hip Hop Award winner, three-time MTV Video Music Award winner
Best album: "Take Care" (2011)
Bottom Line: Drake
The only Canadian to make the list, Drake rose from fame as a child actor on "Degrassi Junior High" to become one of the most popular rappers of all time.
Drake's success — and the majority of his money — has come in the digital age. He's made a vast amount of his fortune from streaming sales. He's one of the best-selling artists of all time with approximately 170 million records sold, and he's sold more digital singles in the U.S. than any other artist.
He's also one of the most marketable rappers of all time and has endorsement deals with Sprite and Whataburger, among others.
In Their Own Words: Drake
"Pain makes you stronger. Fear makes you braver. Heartbreak makes you wiser." —Drake
6. Master P — $200 Million
Name:Percy Robert Miller
Born: April 29, 1970 (New Orleans, Louisiana)
Career highlights: American Music Award, Louisiana Music Hall of Fame
Best album: "Ghetto D" (1997)
Bottom Line: Master P
Master P is a pretty amazing American success story, skyrocketing to fame as a solo rap artist, member of the rap group TRU and founder of No Limit Records in the mid-1990s.
The New Orleans native's business acumen made him the richest rapper of all time for a brief period in the late 2000s, when his fortune skyrocketed to a reported $700 million.
Master P didn't just stick to rap when he first became famous. He also had a string of hit movies he was in, most of which he financed and produced himself.
His son, Lil' Romeo, also proved to be a moneymaker early on, charting two top 10 Billboard albums in the early 2000s.
In Their Own Words: Master P
"I feel like God blessed me to be successful and to have a couple of more things that a lot of people of where I come from didn’t have or didn’t see, but it ain’t always about me. It’s about empowering the next generation so that’s what I love doing." —Master P
5. Eminem — $230 Million
Name:Marshall Bruce Mathers III
Born: Oct. 17, 1972 (St. Joseph, Missouri)
Career highlights: 15-time Grammy Award winner, Academy Award, 12-time MTV Video Music Award winner, 17-time Billboard Music Award winner, eight-time American Music Award winner
Best album: "The Eminem Show" (2002)
Bottom Line: Eminem
Eminem rose to fame with several albums produced by Dr. Dre in the late 1990s and early 2000s that made him the biggest star in the music industry.
Eminem learned quickly from Dre and discovered his own superstar in 50 Cent, cashing in on a share of the profits from his millions of album sales alongside his own. He even won an Academy Award for the song "Lose Yourself" in the hit film "8 Mile" based on his own life story.
Eminem's fortune can be traced back to his own music, however. He's sold 150 million albums in the U.S. alone and has charted 10 No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200.
In Their Own Words: Eminem
"Success is my only option, failure’s not." —Eminem
4. Dr. Dre — $820 Million
Name:Andre Romelle Young
Born: Feb. 18, 1965 (Compton, California)
Career highlights: Six-time Grammy Award winner, two-time MTV Video Music Award winner, BET Hip Hop Award
Best album (tie): "The Chronic" (1992) and "2001" (1999)
Bottom Line: Dr. Dre
The conversation about the greatest music producer of all time comes down to just a few names — Dr. Dre is one of them.
Dre shot to fame as a member of the seminary rap group NWA in the 1980s, with Dre creating most of the beats, and struck out on his own in the early 1990s. As a solo artist, his "Chronic" album in 1992 and "2001" album in 1999 both shot rap into new stratospheres.
Vast parts of his fortune are also due to his discovery of another rapper on this list, Eminem, in the late 1990s as well as the sale of his Beats By Dre line to Apple for a reported $3 billion he split with longtime collaborator and friend Jimmy Iovine.
In Their Own Words: Dr. Dre
"I've gone 79 hours without sleep, creating. When that flow is going, it's almost like a high. You don't want it to stop. You don't want to go to sleep for fear of missing something." —Dr. Dre
3. P. Diddy — $900 Million
Name:Sean John Combs
Born: Nov. 4, 1969 (New York City, New York)
Career highlights: Three-time Grammy Award winner, two-time MTV Video Music Award winner, two-time BET Hip-Hop Award winner
Best album: "No Way Out" (1997)
Bottom Line: P. Diddy
Sean Combs made his name as a producer on some of the greatest rap albums of all time early in his career. He produced Notorious B.I.G. albums "Ready to Die" and "Life After Death" to critical acclaim and millions of dollars in sales.
After Biggie's murder in 1997, Combs continued to rake in cash as a solo artist, owner and CEO of Bady Boy Records and various investments, including Ciroc vodka.
Combs was a moneymaker from the time he was young. He accumulated the rights to newspaper delivery routes and outsourced them to friends for a percentage of the profits when he was in junior high school.
In Their Own Words: P. Diddy
2. Jay-Z — $1.4 Billion
Name:Shawn Corey Carter
Born: Dec. 4, 1969 (New York City, New York)
Career highlights: 22-time Grammy Award winner, 17-time BET Hip Hop Award winner, seven-time MTV Video Music Award winner, six-time Billboard Music Award winner
Best album: "The Black Album" (2003)
Bottom Line: Jay-Z
Jay-Z rose from being a drug dealer on the streets of Brooklyn to one of the greatest — and richest — musicians in history.
Jay-Z put out some of the greatest rap albums of all time, including a late-career smash titled "4:44" in 2017 that seemed to define time itself. But it's not just music that has made him money.
Jay-Z's myriad investments, including lucrative deals with the Brooklyn Nets and the Barclays Center, along with ownership of a record label have been gigantic sources of income as well.
In Their Own Words: Jay Z
"I believe you can speak things into existence." —Jay-Z
1. Kanye West — $6.6 Billion
Name:Kanye Omari West
Born: June 8, 1977 (Atlanta, Georgia)
Career highlights: 21-time Grammy Award winner, 19-time BET Hip Hop Award winner, nine-time Billboard Music Award winner, five-time MTV Video Music Award winner
Best album: "The Life of Pablo" (2016)
Bottom Line: Kanye West
While the perception of Kanye West may have changed in the last few years, the mountain of money he continues to pile up has not.
West broke through first as a producer for Roc-A-Fella Records, then as a solo artist with the smash debut album "The College Dropout" in 2004. He became one of the highest-selling artists of all time with over 20 million albums and 140 million singles sold, and his 21 Grammy Awards are close to the most in history.
Perhaps his most lucrative partnership has been with Adidas. He's reportedly paid around $100 million in royalties yearly for his Yeezy line.
In Their Own Words: Kanye West
"People always tell you, 'Be humble. Be humble.' When was the last time someone told you to be amazing? Be great! Be great! Be awesome! Be awesome!" —Kanye West
Related: Greatest Rap Songs of All Time