Dr. Dre declares himself ‘the first billionaire in hip-hop’

Music mogul Jimmy Iovine, left, and rapper Dr. Dre seen at Santa Monica's Interscope Studios in May 2013.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

Rapper-turned-mogul Dr. Dre proclaimed himself “the first billionaire in hip-hop” in a video making the viral rounds Friday morning, a reference no doubt to the news Thursday that Apple was close to buying fashion-first, high-end headphone maker Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion.

Beats, of course, was founded in 2008 by hip-hop star Dr. Dre and Interscope Geffen A&M Chairman Jimmy Iovine.

Since its launch, Beats headphones have become famous for their hip stylings and the brand has been showcased in music videos from a number of Interscope artists, including Lady Gaga. In January Beats launched Beats Music, a streaming music service, to rival the likes of Swedish company Spotify, Pandora Media Inc. and Apple’s own iTunes Radio.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dre has yet to finish his long-awaited album “Detox.”


But Dre doesn’t need new music to climb at least one chart. Should the Apple deal close -- The Times reported Thursday night that nothing would likely be finalized before next week and could still fall through -- the L.A. rap-producer pioneer would leap-frog Diddy on the Forbes list of hip-hop’s richest artists.

Dre and his pals seem well-aware of this little fiscal factoid. In a video posted Thursday night by musician/actor Tyrese, the latter excitedly proclaims that “the Forbes list just changed.” Dre, close behind, puts an exclamation point on Tyrese’s statement by adding, “in a big way.”

The boastful clip first materialized on Tyrese’s Facebook, where it was removed, but has since found a home on YouTube. If you seek it out, be warned that there is some foul language.

Currently, the financial magazine Forbes has estimated Dre’s worth at about $550 million, the No. 2 hip-hop entrepreneur behind Diddy’s $700 million.

If the reported $3.2-billion value holds, Forbes estimates Dre’s value could climb to $800 million. While it would make him the richest artist in rap, Dre still wouldn’t crack the top-500 on Forbes’ famous list of billionaires.

What does this mean for you? Not much for now, as Beats headphones still cost about as much as your weekly groceries.