Jay-Z, Diddy, Kanye West Top Forbes 2011 Cash Kings List

What better way to celebrate the release of their new No. 1 iTunes album, Watch the Throne, than by also topping the Forbes 2011 Cash Kings list.

Jay-Z, who earned $37 million in the past 12 months and is this year’s top-earner, claims his fourth Cash Kings crown in five years. His The Throne counterpart, Kanye West, comes in at No. 3 with $16 million.

At No. 2 is Diddy, who trails Jay with $35 million, mostly from his Diageo’s Ciroc Vodka partnership. Lil Wayne comes in at No. 4, tying in with his labelhead and daddy Birdman, both earning $15 million over the past year. Meanwhile, Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Eminem tie in for the sixth spot with $14 million earned each.

The list sees a lot of newbies this year, starting with Wiz Khalifa landing at No. 11; Nicki Minaj debuted at No. 15 with $6.5 million, making her the first femcee to appear on the list; Pitbull follows her and then B.o.B.

The success of the Cash King’s top earners is a testament to just how powerful hip-hop is these days. The top 20 on the list earned $271 million combined; 13 different artists earned $10 million or more, taking home income from live shows, recorded music, endorsements and a wide range of other entrepreneurial ventures. The top five combined earned a total of $118 million in12 months.—Mariel Concepcion