Humble Kendrick Lamar
This is the story of how Dr Dre went from high school drop-out to the richest man in hip-hop. From his solo career, to signing Eminem and Snoop Dogg and finally, the megabucks money he's made with Beats.
We're not encouraging it kids, but after continuously scoring bad grades Dr Dre – real name Andre Romelle Young – dropped out of school to become a club DJ. It was a move that, as we now know, didn't end too sadly for him.
Dre had made it as a producer and rapper first in Work Class Wreckin Cru and then with Ice Cube in the group NWA. But 1991 Dre famously decided to leave NWA after a 'financial dispute,' managing to get out of his contract early.
That same year (1991) Dr Dre co-formed his own record company called 'Death Row Records.' Now an entrepreneur as well as producer and rapper, Dre was responsible for finding some of hip-hops biggest players in the 90's, including Tupac Shakur.
It's an album that needs no introduction. It went multi-platinum in under a year and over a decade after its release 'The Chronic' is still making Dre money. It has been re-released three times and has singles featured in best-selling video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.
While at Death Row Records Dr Dre also found a protégé in Snoop Dogg, introducing him to the world of hip-hop through features on The Chronic and producing his debut album 'Dogglestyle,' which became the first debut album for an artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 album charts. We don't doubt that it earnt Dre a few bob.
Aftermath entertainment operated as a subsidiary of, and was distributed through, Universal Music Group's Interscope Records. It's the label that has homed acts including 50 Cent, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar.
The turning point for Aftermath came in 1998, when Jimmy Iovine, the head of Aftermath's parent label Interscope, and Dr. Dre decided to sign Eminem. When Eminem's 'The Slim Shady LP' reached number two on the Billboard 200 and received general acclaim from critics, everyone soon realised the power of Dre's new label.
Dre co-produced the fastest selling rap album of all time, Eminem's 'The Real Slim Shady.' He was good at his job because he was passionate about music – he once claimed he spent 79 hours straight in the studio, but Dre also made clear that music is about business more than anything for him, saying;"Once it comes out, for me, it's just business. Numbers."
Dr Dre sold 30% of his share of his Aftermath label to Interscope records in 2001, a deal that earned him a huge $35 million.
The single, also released in 2001, which was produced by Dre, topped the Billboard Hot 100 for six weeks and according to Rolling Stone, earnt Dr Dre $2 million, taking his total tearnings for the year up to $51.9 million – placing Dr Dre as the second highest paid musician in 2001 (after U2.)
Rappers Eminem, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre arrive at the Shady National Convention to launch Shade 45, a new satellite radio station at the Roseland Ballroom October 28, 2004 in New York City. (Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images)
Rolling Stone reported: "For outside projects such as the Gwen Stefani/Eve collaboration 'Rich Girl,' seeing the Doctor is expensive: Dre earns roughly $250,000 per track."
In 2008, after discussing the poor quality of Apple's white earphones, Dr Dre partnered with his long-time friend and mentor Jimmy Lovine to create 'Beats Electronics.'
When smartphone company HTC paid $300 million for a 51% stake in Beats Electronics, Dre took home $100 million pretax. The deal meant that Dre went to the top of Forbes highest paid hip-hop musicians list in 2012. Later on Dre and his partners bought back half of what they had sold.
Dre was the richest man in hip-hop but he wasn't about to stop. In a 2012 interview with HipHopDX Dre said of Beats; "I'm shocked myself as to how well they're doing. We're gonna keep new and exciting product coming. We're trying to eventually be second to Apple. And I don’t think that’s a bad position."
Diddy's deal with Ciroc meant he took the number one spot, and Jay Z came in at number two because of his Rocawear and Live Nation ventures. Dre was suddenly third on the list with a worth of $350 million.
In 2012, NPD Group reported that Beats had a market share of 64% for headphones priced higher than $100, and was valued at $1 billion in September 2013. Dre had the product, and he had all the right music industry contacts to gain the promotion his headphones needed – they quickly began appearing in music videos and were snapped on celebrities' heads. Picture: Getty
At $700 million Diddy kept his position as the richest person in hip-hop – and he wont be moving out of the top five any time soon as a deal with Diageo's Ciroc brings Diddy an eight-figure salary every year! But Dre did manage to overtake Hov, increasingly his worth to $550 million. Picture: Getty.
News broke earlier this month that Apple is set to buy Beats Electronics for an incomprehensible $3.2 billion. Dre released a video calling himself 'hip-hops first billionaire.' Here Dre's pictured with (on his right) Jimmy Iovine, Beats Electronics CEO & Co-Founder, and Luke Wood, President & COO of Beats Electronics.
It's official! Apple has acquired Beats Electronics for a staggering $3 billon. Forbes say they have done the math and Dre, the boy who dropped out of school, will be worth an estimated $800 million after the Apple acquisition. Not quite the 1 billion he claimed, but certainly enough to crown him (by a lofty $100 million) the richest man in hip-hop.