Diddy is the closest to becoming a billionaire, leading the pack with a net worth of $550 million. The Bad Boy Records founder has remained a mainstream mainstay for 15 years thanks to his knack for self-promotion. Lately, he's been channeling that energy toward Diageo-backed Ciroc vodka, much to the benefit of his bank account: he receives double-digit millions annually as a share of profits. Sales of the spirit spiked 122% last year in the wake of strong demand for new flavor Ciroc Peach; he is entitled to a nine-figure chunk of cash if the brand is ever sold.
Next up is Jay-Z at $460 million. Unlike his fellow Forbes Five members, Jay-Z still churns out music and goes on tour—most recently with pal Kanye West—adding to his considerable war chest. He sold his Rocawear clothing label for $204 million in 2007 and signed 10-year $150 million deal with Live Nation in 2008, and also holds stakes in the New Jersey Nets, his 40/40 Club chain, ad firm Translation, cosmetics company Carol's Daughter and other businesses.
Dr. Dre ranks third with $270 million, doubling from a year ago thanks to a major sale. In August, handset maker HTC paid $300m to buy a 51% stake in Beats Electronics, the company founded by Dr. Dre and Interscope chief Jimmy Iovine in 2008.
Birdman clocks in at No. 4 with a fortune of $125 million. He cofounded Cash Money Records with brother Ronald "Slim" Williams two decades ago, inking very favorable $30 million distribution deal with Universal in 1998. The label's value is increasing with the success of rappers Drake, Nicki Minaj and Lil Wayne (who shares ownership of sub-label Young Money).
Rounding out the Forbes Five is Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson at $110 million. The Queens-born rapper earned $100 million for his Vitaminwater stake in 2007—and tens of millions more from touring, record sales and clothing—but spent freely on cars and renovations to his mansion, formerly owned by Mike Tyson.