But when it comes to net worth, Jay-Z is number two. The top spot goes to Sean "Diddy" Combs, who tops our accounting of rap's richest with a fortune of $475 million, fueled by his interests in Sean John clothing, Bad Boy Worldwide record label and, most significantly, his Diageo joint-venture vodka brand Ciroc. Jay-Z ranks a close second, with $450 million.
In Pictures: Hip-Hop's Wealthiest Artists
Superproducer/rapper Dr. Dre ranks third with $125 million, fueled by past earnings generated from his own career and by helping to launch those of Snoop Dogg and Eminem. Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, a onetime Dr. Dre protege who reaped a nine-figure payday from the sale of Vitamin Water to Coca-Cola, rounds out the top five in a tie with Cash Money Records cofounder Bryan "Birdman" Williams at $100 million.
In order to form the list, we followed the same procedures we use to calculate the list of the world's billionaires (released today) - valuing current holdings, looking at past earnings, leafing through financial documents and talking to a bevy of analysts, attorneys, managers and other industry players to find the nitty-gritty details. We considered only performers, which is why hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons isn't on this list.
Though other hip-hop artists including Lil Wayne, Pharrell Williams, Rick Ross and others - not to mention pop sensation Bruno Mars, who penned Travie McCoy's hit song "Billionaire" - frequently speak of ten-figure desires, we kept our list to five because of the lack of information available on the fortunes under $100 million.