“An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. The well-known saying that has origins from 1800’s Wales remains one of the most recognizable proverbs of our day. The meaning is quite simple in that the good things we put into our bodies, like an apple, will prevent future illness and make a visit to a physician unnecessary. The apple does contain nutrients and vitamins that will help us build immunity to harmful germs. However, the recent news involving a doctor and an apple is quite different from our above-mentioned proverb. The business world has collided with the music world with news of hip-hop superstar Dr. Dre selling his Beats by Dre headphones to Apple Inc. for $3 billion dollars (US). Therefore, this particular Apple did not keep the doctor away, but worked with the doctor and made him very wealthy. In fact, the deal will make Dr. Dre the richest man in hip-hop, surpassing current leader Sean “P.Diddy” Combs. How did Dr. Dre get to this place in life?
Many things have changed in the world of rap music over the past thirty years. One of the major changes has been the overall acceptance from the music industry. There has been an acceptance from mainstream America too. Fueling the upgraded status of rap music surely is the amount of money made over the years. Today other industries have seen the opportunity to join in with hip-hop difference-makers to create greater moneymaking ventures. In the process, we now have some very wealthy hip-hop stars. Dr. Dre and P. Diddy are joined by Jay-Z, Bryan “Birdman” Williams and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson as the top five moguls of hip-hop, all with net worth’s well over $100 million dollars. All of the top five moneymakers share very humble starting points in life.
André Romelle Young was born in Compton, California on February 18, 1965. He was the first child of Theodore and Verna Young. Young attended Centennial High School in Compton during his first year in 1979, but transferred to Fremont High School due to poor grades. Young attempted to enroll in an apprenticeship program at Northrop Aviation Company, but poor grades at school made him ineligible. Thereafter, he focused on his social life and entertainment for the remainder of his high school years.
Dre got his musical start as a DJ in a club called The Eve After Dark and later joined the musical group World Class Wreckin’ Cru under the independent Kru-Cut Records in 1984. In 1986, Dr. Dre met rapper O’Shea Jackson — nicknamed Ice Cube — who collaborated with Dr. Dre to record songs for Ruthless Records, a rap record label run by local rapper Eazy-E. At this point the group N.W.A was formed and went on to become one of the most successful acts of the gangsta’ rap musical genre.
I remember my first time hearing “Straight Outta Compton”. Actually, I saw the video because the group had gained national prominence without much major radio airplay. Of course, what I saw was an edited version because all gangsta’ raps utilized hardcore lyrics, depicting violence and a hatred for law enforcement. Although the music was harsh to the ears of the older generation, gangsta’ rap quickly found its young audience and propelled several rappers to stardom.
Dr. Dre proved to be more than just another record producer – as he left N.W.A in 1991 along with bodyguard Suge Knight, and went on to form Death Row Records. In early 1996, Young left the label amidst a contract dispute. Later that year, he formed his own label, Aftermath Entertainment, under the distribution label for Death Row Records, Interscope Records.
Dr. Dre definitely had an ear for hip-hop artists on the rise as he currently has Eminem, Kendrick Lamar and Jon Connor signed to the Aftermath label. After over ten years of building his successful music empire at Aftermath came his next venture: Beats by Dr. Dre. Beats Electronics is an American producer of audio products and equipment operates a music streaming service, Beats Music. The company was founded by Dre and Interscope-Geffen-A&M Records chairman Jimmy Iovine. Beats’ popularity was primarily influenced by its marketing practices, centered on product placement and branding deals with celebrities that were accessible due to Iovine’s professional network. In 2012, NPD Group reported that Beats’ market share was 64% in the U.S for headphones priced higher than $100, and according to The Guardian, the brand was valued at $1 billion dollars in September 2013.
Earlier this week, technology giant Apple Inc. made a bid for Beats by Dre brand for a reported $3 billion dollars, which is reported to have been accepted. The Apple and the Doctor came together in a way that should make both happy. Yes, Dr. Dre has a reason to celebrate. The man who started as a DJ and then a producer of gangsta rap may be hip-hop’s first billionaire. As Don King would say, “Only in America”.