Back in 2007, Kanye West released a song called “Big Brother”—an ode to Jay-Z. Indeed, catching on with the mogul’s Roc-A-Fella Records two decades ago was West’s first big break. Jay-Z even had a hand in coining West’s nickname, Yeezy, which now graces his eponymous shoe line with Adidas.
“There was a beam of light on the idea of me making athletic footwear,” West explainedin an interview for the August cover of Forbes. “A paradigm shift. Like the Yeezy is desired as much as a Jordan.”
Yeezy is expected to top $1.5 billion in sales this year—or about half of what Nike’s Air Jordan pulls in—boosting West’s pretax income to $150 million over the past year and making him hip-hop’s cash king for the first time ever. Another career first: West out-earned Jay-Z, who ranks second on this year’s list with $81 million, buoyed by the tail end of his On The Run II tour with wife Beyoncé. Drake, the most-streamed artist of any genre, rounds out the top three with $75 million.
All in all, the top 20 acts in hip-hop banked a combined $860 million, up 33% from $648 million last year. The bar for entry is $18 million, the highest it’s ever been. Our numbers represent pretax income from June 2018 to June 2019 before deducting fees for agents, managers and lawyers; figures are based on data from Nielsen Music, Pollstar, Bandsintown and interviews with experts, handlers and some of the stars themselves.Please Scroll Below for NEXT Page to continue