If you were scratching your head when you learned that Dr Dre topped Forbes' annual rich list of hip-hop dons, then don't worry. You weren't alone. It came as something of a surprise to see Dre at the top of the list, above Puff Daddy and Jay Z, given that he's not exactly been prolific with his releases recently. It's not his rhyming or his production skills that have propelled him to the top of this particular rich list, though Dr. Dre's wealth has come from his lucrative music accessories business, particularly sales of his 'Beats By Dre' headphones.
In 2011, Dr. Dre, now aged 47, earned a staggering $110 million before tax, and the bulk of that income was from sales of the headphones. In 2008, the mobile phone handset manufacturer Htc spent $300 million on a 51 per cent stake in the business. Likewise, Sean Combs (Aka Puff Daddy. Or P-Diddy) made most of his enviable fortune (we're talking earnings of $45 million last year) from his interest in Ciroc vodka. Even Jay Z, who is probably the busiest man in the top three when it comes to actually performing and releasing records, earned a great deal of his money ($38 million) away from the recording business. He has stakes in the Brooklyn Nets basketball team, as well as the Carol's Daughter cosmetics company and a joint venture with Duracell.
In a poll heavily dominated by men, Nicki Minaj pulled rank for the women, at number 8, with $15.5 million to her name. She's snapping at the heels of her own boss, Cash Money Records' founder Bryan Williams. With her star well and truly on the ascendant, next year's list could well tell a very different story.