“I ain’t got no lyrics, I’m straight blunt… I don’t have time for lyrics,” said Waka Flocka Flame in an interview on Shade 45 last week. “The nigga that everybody say lyrical, he ain’t got no show…. I be on the radio and niggas be like ‘nigga let’s freestyle right now’ and I be like ‘that ain’t even gonna get you no money though.” Really? We present to you the top 5 richest, lyrical rappers and their estimated worth, according to Forbes’ “Richest Rappers 2009″ list.
1. Jay-Z – Est. 2009 Earnings: $34 million: Is it any coincidence that perhaps the nicest emcee in the game is also the richest? Jay is the very definition of lyrical, but also knows the secret of how to create commercially viable music that doesn’t blow. Jay’s fortunes come from co-ownership of the 40/40 Club, the NBA’s New Jersey Nets, the creation of Roc-A-Fella and Roc Nation Records, and Roc-A-Wear clothing, not to mention selling over 30 million copies of his records worldwide and scoring ten Grammy nods. And he’s got the hottest chick in the game wearing his chain.
2. Lil Wayne – Est. 2009 Earnings: $18 Million: Lil Wayne started off on a similar path to Waka Flocka Flame, that being a hungry rapper from the south who used mixtapes to generate buzz for himself in the hood. Sure, Wayne had his start as the youngest member of the Hot Boys in the late 90′s, but Wayne’s career began to skyrocket when word got out that he was actually nice on the mic, thanks largely in part to mixtapes like “Dedication 2″ and “Da Drought 3″, as well as his solo debut, Tha Carter. This is what would separate him from all of the other members of his former crew, Juvenile, B.G., and Turk, who like Waka Flocka, also don’t have time for lyrics. And also don’t have any money.
3. Eminem – Est. 2009 Earnings: $14 Million: Named “best rapper ever” by Vibe Magazine, Eminem’s accomplishments only begin with his music – selling 80 million records worldwide – and extending his brand to both Shady Records and Shade45 satellite radio station. Yes, that means he’s even getting paid off of Flocka’s interview. Sure, there’s always been that looming question if whether or not Em’s race has anything to do with his success level. Well of course it does – but ask the 90 other white rappers that were signed to major labels after him if being white got them a free pass, and you’ll find a lot of disappointed guys with shaved heads and shelved albums. As the story goes, Dr. Dre heard Em freestyle on the radio (wow, imagine that), signed him, and the rest is history. Yes, skills had a little something to do with this.
4. Ludacris – Est. 2009 Earnings: $11 Million: Ludacris is the highest-selling southern hip-hop solo artist of all time with over 17 million units sold in the United States and 24 million records sold worldwide. And also, he can rap his ass off.
5. Common – Est. 2009 Earnings: $8 Million: Well, Common may be short by $25 million or so in comparison to Jay-Z, but for a guy who is essentially king of the backpack rappers, he’s doing aight. However, in terms of style, he still beats Flocka’s closest comparison on the list, Young Jeezy, whose net worth is $6 million. Truth be told, while much of Common’s paper comes from his acting career (Terminator Salvation, Smokin’ Aces, etc), he didn’t break into Hollywood because he made garbage albums – lyrics are what got him there in the first place. Damn, we didn’t know Com was even allowed near the Forbes list.
Honorable Mention: Diddy – Est. 2009 Earnings: $30 Million: Sure, Diddy has no place on a list of “lyrical rappers”, but isn’t kind of funny that the second richest rapper in the world pays guys like Pharoahe Monch, Skillz, Royce Da 5’9, and Nas to write his raps for him? Case closed.
We also considered listing the brokest, non-lyrical rappers, however the list would take five years to complete.
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