By Todd Williams Friday, December 30th, 2011
Jay-Z is still sitting at the top of hip hop. He was ranked #1 on Forbes' Hip Hop Cash Kings list of the industry's biggest earners in rap music. His $150 million deal with Live Nation, stake in the popular 40/40 clubs, and other business ventures helped him claim the #1 spot on the list, and he and his wife Beyonce were also named the highest paid couple in music for having earned approximately $72 million in 2010 and 2011.
Jay-Z and Kanye West's collaborative album Watch the Throne was one of the year's most anticipated releases and did not disappoint commercially. The album was released in August and debuted at #1 on the iTunes Store in 23 countries. It also broke Coldplay's record for most albums sold in one week on the online retailer, selling 290,000 copies on iTunes alone. Jay-Z and West also announced the "Watch the Throne" tour, which immediately sold out and sparked so much demand that additional shows were added within the first week of announcement.
Released his memoir Decoded in late 2010. The book became an instant. The rapper-turned-businessman-turned philanthropist also helped raise over $1 million in college scholarships with his Making The Ordinary Extraordinary carnival benefit in fall of 2011. The money raised from the festive fundraiser went towards funds to send underprivileged students to college.
He also made the official announcement of the New Jersey Nets' relocation to Brooklyn. It was revealed that Jay-Z will be the 'face' of the franchise, as the partowner held a press conference across from the unfinished Barclays Center (which will house the Nets) to announce the team's official relocation.
West and Jay-Z also gave a surprise performance of their smash single "Otis," at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards. Of course, it was also revealed at the VMAs that Jay-Z's wife, superstar Beyonce, is pregnant with the couple's first child. A perfect cap on a stellar year for the rapper from Brooklyn.