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Thursday 29 May 2014

Dr Dre: The First Hip-Hop Billionaire.

"The Forbes list just changed."
That is the boast made by singer-songwriter Tyrese Gibson in a
video posted on Facebook (and later removed), before he is pushed aside by Dr Dre, the co-founder of the Beats Electronics firm.
The list of the richest people on the planet, says Dre, the 49-year-old hip-hop star and entrepreneur, has changed "in a big way".

"The first billionaire in hip hop right here from the... West Coast, believe me," he sayd, before the video abruptly ends.
By most accounts, Apple's $3bn (£1.8bn) acquisition of the Beats headphone and music streaming service will increase Dre's net worth from an estimated $550m to almost $800m - making him, if not hip-hop's first billionaire, certainly hip-hop's wealthiest man.
So how did Dr Dre, born Andre Romelle Young in inner-city Los Angeles, build his fortune?

Borne of necessity
Dan Charnas, a former hip-hop record producer and author of The Big Payback: The History of the Business of Hip-Hop, says that Dr Dre's business acumen was shaped by the culture of hip-hop in the 1980s, which was by necessity more entrepreneurial.

"There's a long tradition of entrepreneurship for artists in the hip-hop business because there was no other way they were going to get out there," says Charnas, noting that in the 1980s, major record labels and radio stations were hesitant to invest in and promote hip-hop music.
"Russell Simmons [and Rick Rubin] had to start their own music company if people were going to hear these records," he adds, referring to Def Jam records, one of the first and most successful hip-hop labels.
"The hustle of that extended to everything."

Dr Dre was certainly part of that early, scrappy hip-hop milieu.
Although he first found success as a musician with the World Class Wreckin' Cru and then with the seminal group N.W.A. - pioneers of gangsta rap - he was also a keen collaborator and producer, thus ensuring he had two revenue streams: one from performing, and another from producing.

Just a year after he released his debut album, The Chronic, in 1992 - which sold three million copies and won a Grammy award - Dr Dre also helped produce Snoop Dogg's first album, Doggystyle, which sold an astonishing five million copies.

Like many hip-hop stars of the era, Dre also made sure that he earned a cut of his own sales as a producer - eventually becoming "the single most influential producer in hip-hop history", according to Rolling Stone magazine.
After a falling out with his first label, Death Row Records, due to a contract dispute (among other concerns), Dre negotiated a deal with Interscope to start his own label, Aftermath Entertainment, in 1996.
He then signed and helped produce albums by young hip-hop artists, most notably Eminem, before selling his share of the label back to Interscope in 2001 for a reported $35m.

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