LOS ANGELES (Billboard) - The final numbers are in for Lil Wayne's 2008-2009 North American touring, and it appears the rapper will have the highest grossing hip-hop outing of the year -- and the most lucrative rap jaunt that Billboard has ever tracked.
Seventy-eight Lil Wayne headlining arena and amphitheater concerts in North America from December 14, 2008, through September 6, 2009, grossed about $42 million and drew nearly 804,000 fans, according to Shawn Gee, Lil Wayne's tour producer and tour business manager.
"It's definitely one of the biggest in the last couple of years," Gee tells Billboard.com. "Our plan was to prove that Wayne was a viable headlining arena artist."
The second highest-grossing rap tour that Billboard has tracked was Jay-Z's 2008 jaunt with Mary J. Blige, which grossed $34.6 million and drew 310,694 concertgoers to 28 shows. Kanye West's 2008 Glow In the Dark tour comes in third, having pulled in $30.8 million from 49 concerts that attracted 507,853 fans.
Other lucrative hip-hop tours in recent years include 2005's Eminem/50 Cent Anger Management tour, which grossed $22.7 million from 23 shows; and a 50 Cent tour in 2003 that rang up nearly $23 million in ticket sales, much of it co-headlining with Jay-Z on the Roc-the-Mic tour.
Hip-hop tours rarely crack the Billboard year-end list of the top 25 grossing tours, but it's likely that Lil Wayne's 2009 trek will earn a spot on this year's tally.
The concerts promoted Lil Wayne's 2008 album, "Tha Carter III," which has sold 3.2 million copies in the United States, according to Nielsen SoundScan. The rapper's oft-delayed next album, "Rebirth," is due November 24.
Although no specific touring plans are currently in the works, Gee believes that Lil Wayne will continue as an arena-sized headliner.
"We definitely want to capitalize on the success we've had and want to continue building Wayne as a touring artist and not just an artist that tours," he says. "We established him as a headline artist and I think it grows from there."
Editing by Dean Goodman at Reuters