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MUSIC EXECUTIVES & ENTREPRENEURS

The Business of Dr. Dre

It’s only fitting that Dr. Dre would be one of the halftime performers for Super Bowl LVI in Los Angeles featuring his hometown Rams. Let’s talk about how Andre Young got here.

Dr. Dre embodies West Coast rap. And he knows it.

“Who else could do this show here in L.A.?” Dre asked during the press conference for the Pepsi Super Bowl LVI Halftime Show on Thursday. “Who else could perform the halftime show, other than these amazing artists that we’ve put together for this thing?”

“And not only that, I’ve been manifesting the Rams, since the beginning of the season,” he said. “Just thinking about it every day. I’m meditating on it, and I’m like, ‘OK, it would be perfect if we are in the Super Bowl, performing at halftime, and the Rams are in the game as well.”

Dre, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar are tag-teaming the performance on the night the Los Angeles Rams square off against the Cincinnati Bengals for the Lombardi Trophy—all beginning at 6 p.m. EST on NBC.

Those 15 minutes will pack an exceptional punch — the culmination of both Dre’s journey from the streets of Compton and countless landmark moments in hip-hop history.

More simply, the spectacle is just the latest bullet point in Dre’s overwhelmingly long string of accomplishments. For most, being a member of N.W.A. — perhaps the most disruptive and seminal hip-hop group —would be enough of a legacy piece for several lifetimes. For Dre, it was just the beginning.

Social & Streaming Stamps

  • Spotify monthly listeners: 17.5 million
  • Instagram followers: 6.1 million
  • YouTube subscribers: 5.3 million
  • Twitter followers: 2.9 million
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Music Accomplishments

  • Grammy nominations: 26
  • Grammy wins: 7
  • Solo albums: 3
  • Solo Platinum albums: 2
  • Solo Platinum singles: 2
  • Produced for: 50 Cent, Alicia Keys, Anderson .Paak, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Mary J. Blige, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit

Big Business Splashes

  • Co-founded Death Row Records and later Aftermath Entertainment, both of which served as homes to some of hip-hop’s most influential artists
  • Sold 30% of his Aftermath share to Interscope, netting $35 million and landing at No. 2 on Rolling Stone‘s list of the 50 highest-earning artists of 2001 at $51.9 million—behind only U2’s $61.9 million net gross
  • Established Beats (Beats by Dre) with Jimmy Iovine in 2006, releasing its first-ever set of headphones in 2008
  • Sold Beats to Apple for $3 billion in 2014
  • Entered a “marketing and merchandising partnership” with the NBA in 2018 to make Beats the official headphone and audio partner of the league as well as the WNBA, NBA G League and USA Basketball

When the now-56-year-old rapper, producer and mogul left N.W.A. and launched Death Row Records in the early 1990s, the label started off with a bang. Or rather, two: Dre’s The Chronic in ’92 and Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle in ’93. (All Eyez On Me from 2Pac came later, in 1996, but holds the same weight as a historical hip-hop shape-shifter.)

While The Chronic solidified Dre as a solo star — earning a Grammy for “Let Me Ride” and landing at No. 3 on the Billboard 200 — his power to push culture magnified behind the scenes as a producer, engineering the sonic landscape that would define an era.

By joining forces with the Interscope co-founder Iovine, Dre took that musical influence he wielded in the studio and brought it into the homes of music lovers everywhere—a monumental partnership chronicled in the 2017 four-part HBO documentary, The Defiant Ones:

During a 2020 joint interview with British GQ , Iovine explained the impetus behind their creation of Beats by Dre:

“Dre was really upset about his kids wearing the phone earbuds, the portable earbuds — those little ones that you get for free. That was really frustrating him. Sound coming out of the computers were really frustrating because he goes in, and the only thing in the studio that he does every day the same is try to make it sound great.

I come from a recording background, so I completely got what he was talking about, and we saw a hole. And then we said, ‘What if we made them sexy? Kids might start wearing them, right? And that would make them better headphones.’ People would tell us, ‘No one is gonna pay for headphones because they get them for free.’ And we said, ‘No, no, no. That’s not the way culture moves. That’s not the way things move.’ We were thinking about making one headphone, or multiple headphones, but we were thinking about just Beats being a headphone. What it turned into was a miracle.”

Dre’s rise to ubiquity can be described as nothing other than miraculous. And should the Rams actually triumph over Joe Brr and the Bengals on Sunday, his legend will only grow.

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