Forbes has released the Forbes Five, its annual shortlist of rap's wealthiest artists. 2012's top earners—Diddy, Jay-Z, Dr. Dre, Bryan "Birdman" Williams and 50 Cent, in that order—were also 2011's top earners, and rankings on the list remained the same in both years. (Confusingly, Diddy topped 2011's Forbes Five, but Jay ranked first on Forbes' 2011 "Cash Kings" list.) Since last year, the collective net worth of the group rose $95 million.
None of rap's moguls are billionaires yet, but Diddy’s the closest to becoming one. He'll launch a music-themed cable channel with Comcast, Revolt, in 2013, and sales of his Ciroc vodka are way up, thanks to the success of Ciroc Peach.
Tupac hologram mastermind Dr. Dre, who sold HTC a 51% stake in his Beats headphones for $300 million in August, still ranks ahead of Cash Money Records founder Bryan “Birdman” Williams. Cash Money's $30 million distribution deal with Universal, signed in 2008, ends this summer. Birdman's roster—Lil Wayne, Drake, Nicki Minaj—is one of the most lucrative in music, and he's ready for distributors to re-evaluate its value: "Whoever gives the most benefit to my team, which is first, and to its success, that’s where we’ll end up at."