Hip-hop has gone from a marginalized pastime of broke rhymers battle-rapping around a trash can and b-boys spinning on card-board boxes, to a multi-million dollar global phenomenon. Now it may move into the billionaire market. Dr. Dre has hit a home run by making a potential deal with Apple for Beats By Dre, which puts him in the major leagues financially. Dr. Dre is co-founder (with Jimmy Iovine) of Beats Electronics which specializes in high-end headphones and a music streaming service. He is on the verge of selling his company to Apple for a reported $3.2 billion. He now dubs himself “the first billionaire in hip-hop”.
Don’t Forget About Dre
Dr. Dre (born Andre Young), 49, is a rap icon. Founding member of NWA (N***as With Attitude), and creator of such classics as 1992’s The Chronic, he brought Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent to the culture. He hasn’t released an album in 15 years (we’re all waiting on Detox) – which proves that rap has evolved to more than just a slammin’ musical art form. It’s a business, and today’s rap artist has to be savvy enough to branch out into multiple brands, mergers and acquisitions. Gold teeth simply ain’t enough anymore.
Also in the league of extraordinary gentleman who are big balling: Jay Z (a rags-to-riches rap impresario worth $520 million) and P. Diddy (one of the first movers and shakers to move zeroes, worth $700 million). With this merger, Dr. Dre would become the highest paid figure in rap.
As a culture that’s a mere 40 years old, this is both a cultural and economic landmark. Hip-hop was originally created in poverty-struck Brooklyn as a revolutionary outcry against racial brutality, social marginalization and economic destitution. At its roots, it was set squarely against “The Man”. Now that iconic rap figureheads are becoming “The Man,” many feel that hip-hop has sold out. This writer tends to disagree. Empowerment, innovation, and entrepreneurship (aka hustlin’) are at the heart of this art form for people who have too often felt the sting of America’s intolerance. Capitalism is the logical next step in that evolution.
Dr. Dre has come a long way from being just a N***a With Attitude scaring middle-class white America. He has set a new standard, both in hip-hop music and in business, and he has achieved the American Dream by becoming a global player. This gangsta rapper who was straight out of Compton is now straight out of this world.
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