Six years ago Dr. Dre was walking along the beach with Interscope Records chief Jimmy Iovine, pondering whether or not he should launch his own shoe line. “[Forget] sneakers,” said Iovine. “Let’s sell speakers!”
It might have been the best piece of advice the rapper-producer ever received. In 2008 he teamed with Iovine and a handful of other partners to launch Beats By Dr. Dre, which now sells more than half of the country’s premium headphones ($100 and up). That’s music to the ears of Dr. Dre, who collected $100 million pretax when handset maker HTC paid $300 million for a 51% stake in the company last year.
With $110 million in pretax earnings, Dr. Dre is this year’s Hip-Hop Cash King—ousting last year’s champ, Jay-Z—despite the fact that his long-awaited album, Detox, remains on the shelf. He’s not the only one on the list who banks the bulk of his bucks outside the recording studio. Diddy ranks No. 2 with $45 million, thanks mostly to a share of profits from Diageo’s Ciroc vodka.
Jay-Z ranks third with $38 million, pulling in more than half his annual earnings from ventures including ownership stakes in cosmetics company Carol’s Daughter, the Brookyln Nets and a joint venture with battery maker Duracell.
“The reality of it is, you want to do something that you own,” says frequent Jay-Z collaborator Timbaland, who ranks No. 20 on the list with $6 million. “You want to own what you put your heart into. That’s how you make money.”