Talent, money and attitude — yup, it’s the ten richest rappers in the world. These rappers are all worth huge sums of cash, earned over often long and lucrative careers. Many led extremely troubled lives when they were young, but have all since had incredible success, with some boasting amazing rags to riches stories.
A few like to flaunt their wealth, while others are more private. And while some focus mainly on making music, others have made most of their money by producing and starting up successful hip hop music labels or music-related business. Without further ado, let’s check out the ten richest rappers in the world, counting down to number one.
10 LIL WAYNE
Net worth: $130million
Lil Wayne’s real name is Dwayne Michael Carter Jr. Brought up in New Orleans, his childhood was not particularly happy. His mother was only 19 when he was born and his parents divorced when he was two, before his father abandoned the family.
His dad has never been a part of Lil Wayne’s life, but the rapper was very fond of his stepfather, known as Rabbit, who he has a tattoo dedicated to. Tragically, Rabbit was murdered before Lil Wayne became famous.
Today he has a father/son relationship with fellow rapper Birdman, who calls him his son. Lil Wayne wrote his first rap song when he was eight and dropped out of school at the age of 14 to pursue a musical career.
He has made millions in the years since, thanks to his natural talent for rapping and after founding record label Young Money Entertainment.
Because of his non-existent relationship with his father, 31 year-old Lil Wayne says he intends to retire when he is 35 to spend time with his four children who all have different mothers. With his place as one of the world’s richest rappers, he certainly won’t have to worry about money when he does so.
Net worth: $140million
Eminem, whose real name is Marshall Bruce Mathers II, has led a very troubled life and described it in detail in his autobiography The Way I Am. He has struggled with drug addiction, fame, heartbreak and depression.
He has also been sued by a number of people, including his own mother who accused him of slander in the lyrics on the LP released under his alter ego Slim Shady. Eminem’s ex-wife also sued him for depicting her violent death in his song Kim after she attempted suicide in July 2000 by slashing her wrists.
He met Kim at high school when he was 15 and she was 13. They married in 1999 and had a daughter named Hailie. In 2000 he filed for divorce after Kim was convicted for drink driving for a second time.
They remarried in January 2006 but three months later he filed for divorce again and they have joint custody of their daughter. Despite all the troubles and arrests Eminem remains one of the most successful and richest rappers in the world.
8 THE NOTORIOUS B.I.G.
Net worth: $160million
Christopher George Latore Wallace is on this richest rappers list posthumously because although his career only spanned three years he sold more than seven million records and his estate is still worth $160million. His sudden and unexplained murder at the age of 24 cut short a very promising career.
When he released his first album, ironically called Ready to Die, in 1994 it seemed he had a great future and when he fronted his protege group Junior MAFIA it achieved chart success immediately.
The group was made up of his childhood friends. Wallace was sitting in the passenger seat of a Chevy Suburban in Wilshire Boulevard, Los Angeles, on March 7, 1997, when he was shot four times in a drive-by shooting. No-one has ever been charged with his murder.
Although he sold drugs from the age of 12 and served nine months in prison, police do not think the killing was drug-related. They suspect it had something to do with a rap war between the East and West coasts of America.
Net worth: $170million
Rapper Bryan Williams uses either Birdman or Baby as his stage names. He loves to flash his wealth and in October 2013 bought himself a $14.5million mansion in Miami that has nine bedrooms, seventeen bathrooms, a spa and a gym.
He is co-founder of Cash Money Records and one half of the duo Big Tymers. He has collaborated with fellow rapper Lil Wayne on an album and several tracks.
He has had two run-ins with the law: in November 2007 he was arrested and charged with the possession of nearly a pound of marijuana, and in October 2009 Birdman, Lil Wayne and various music outlets were sued by Italian Thomas Marasciullo who said his voice was used on tracks without his permission.
6 50 CENT
Net worth: $260million
No-one could have had a worse start in life than Curtis James Jackson III, better known as 50 Cent. He was born to a 15 year-old lesbian mother in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in the borough of Queens, New York City.
His mother Sabrina was a cocaine dealer and in 1983 she became unconscious from taking a drugged drink and died from the gas being turned on in their apartment with all the windows closed.
Curtis began dealing drugs at the age of 12 and when he gave it up to follow a career as a rapper he was shot and hit by nine bullets in an incident in 2000.
What changed his life was the birth of Fiddy’s only child, a son who was born to his then girlfriend in 1997 and from that moment he wanted to be a good father and work hard. He has since made a huge fortune and will no doubt be one of the richest rappers in the world for many years to come. He is also the founder of headphone firm SMS Audio.
5 RUSSELL SIMMONS
Net worth: $325million
Although not strictly speaking a rapper himself, Russell Simmons has been included in this list because of his huge influence on the rap scene. He co-founded the hip-hop label Def Jam and in 2000 he was responsible for setting up the internet start-up 360 Hop which he later sold to BET, making him indisputably one of the the world’s the richest rappers.
He is a man who holds very strong beliefs in certain things. He has been a vegan most of his life and he practices transcendental meditation. He is a strong supporter of the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-based education and world peace.
In 1992, when he was 35, he met 17 year-old Kimora Lee and after dating for four years they married on Saint Bathelemy Island in 1998. They had two daughters, but divorced eight years later.
4 MASTER P
Net worth: $350million
Rapper, actor, entrepreneur, and basketball player — Percy Robert Miller has done it all and has a swelling bank account to show for it. He uses the stage name Master P but in business he uses the name P.Miller. He was raised in New Orleans and was a professional basketball player before going into music. He had contracts with two NBA Teams, Charlotte Hornets and Toronto Raptors.
He co-founded the record label No Limit Forever and founded No Limit Records, which accounts for much of his wealth and cemented his place as one of the world’s richest rappers. He is also founder and Chief Executive Officer of P.Miller Enterprises and he runs two charitable organizations which he set up: P.Miller Youth Centers and P. Miller Food Foundation for the Homeless. The Mayor of Memphis, Tennessee, presented him with the key to the city in 2005 for his contribution to music and his charitable work.
3 JAY Z
Net worth: $500million
Real name Shawn Corey Carter also had a troubled childhood and was a tearaway in his teenage years. He was brought up by his single mother Gloria after his father walked out on the family.
Carter was brought up in Brooklyn where he was involved in selling crack cocaine. He claims during this period of his life he was shot at three times. His mother sparked his interest in music when she gave him a boombox for his birthday.
But he makes the richest rappers list after selling 75 million records worldwide, and has also been involved in other entrepreneurial ventures. In 2008 he married his equally successful wife Beyonce Knowles, and he says the secret of the success of their marriage is they do not talk about it publicly. They have a daughter Blue Ivy Carter.
2 SEAN “P.DIDDY” COMBS
Net worth: $580million
American rapper P.Diddy, proper name Sean John Combs, is also known by the stage name Puff Daddy. As well as a rapper, he is also a record producer, actor and entrepreneur.
P.Diddy attributes his success to his troubled childhood, after being born on a public housing project in Harlem to mum Janice, a model and teaching assistant, and drug dealer dad Melvin. They moved to Mount Vernon in New York but his father was shot dead while sitting in his car in Central Park when Combs was a child.
In a public interview, P.Diddy said he learned from an early age that if you went down that path you either ended up dead or in jail and it made him work harder. He dropped out of university to work for a record company and when he got fired he started his own record firm and has never looked back.
His life has not been free of controversy. He has fathered five children by different women and is known for his parties. He topped the richest rappers list for several years until the gentleman below stepped in to fill his shoes.
1 DR DRE
Net worth: $700-800million
Dr Dre is the stage name of Andre Romelle Young. As well as being a rapper and producer, he is also the founder of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics — and tops the richest rappers list after selling the headphone and music firm to Apple for $3billion in March 2014.
Thanks to his stock options and previous wealth (he made $52million alone in 2001 from selling part of his share in Aftermath) he now has a combined wealth of between $700million-800million
It’s a remarkable story for a man who has also led a troubled life, with his father leaving his mother when he was three years old. Dre also had to be removed from Vanguard Junior School in Compton, California, when he was a child due to gang violence and was sent to the safer Roosevelt Junior High School.
When he was 17 he had a son, Curtis, who is now also an aspiring rapper then in 1988, Dre had a second son, Andre Young Jr, with Jenita Porter — who sued him for $5,000 a month in child support. Twenty years later Andre died at his mother’s home of an overdose of heroine and morphine. He had a third son in 1991 to his then-girlfriend Michelle, and in 1996 he married Nicole Treat, with whom he has a son and a daughter.