The 48-year-old seized top spot from his pal Sean Diddy Combs, also 48, who had held it since Forbes started compiling the list in 2011.
He came in second this year with $825 million.
Forbes put the rising fortune of Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, down to the rising value of his interests in Armand de Brignac champagne and D’Ussé cognac.
That comes on top of nine-figure ownership stakes in his Roc Nation empire and Tidal streaming service.
Diddy increased his own worth in the past 12 months but what Forbes described as ‘tepid trends in the vodka and cable TV sectors have affected his interests in Ciroc and Revolt.’
Wealthy pals: Jay-Z, aka Shawn Carter, left, knocked his pal Sean Diddy Combs off the top spot for the first time since Forbes started compiling the list in 2011. Sean’s net worth is $825 million
However DeLeón tequila, his joint venture with beverage giant Diageo, has kept his earnings up.
Super-producer and entrepreneur Dr. Dre, aka Andre Young, came in third with $770 million.
The 53-year-old benefited from the rising stock market boosting his nine-figure windfall from Apple’s $3 billion buyout of his Beats in 2014.
Dre is also in line to receive Apple stock worth well over $100 million this summer, according to Forbes, and that could send him rocketing into top spot this year.
All this makes Jay-Z, Diddy and Dre not only the wealthiest hip-hop acts on the planet, but the richest American musicians of any genre, Forbes revealed
Of course, if Jay-Z should fall on hard times, he’s always got his wife Beyonce to fall back on who’s worth a reported $500 million in her own right.