Dr Dre headphones empire earns $110m

CALIFORNIA - Dr Dre was born to unwed teenage parents in a gang-ridden neighborhood of Compton, California. His talent as a rapper made him a millionaire and shot him to the top of hip-hop music charts.

But his business acumen has led him build a headphones empire that paid him $110million last year.

His 'Beats by Dr Dre' premium headphones have become seemingly ubiquitous. The red 'b' logo is an iconic, making them a must-have accessory for millions of young people.

He has been so successful that the release of his long-awaited last album, 'Detox,' has been pushed back even more.

'I understand why Dre didn’t finish Detox,' former Def Jam president Kevin Liles told Forbes. 'It’s called Beats.'

Dr Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, tops Forbes' Cash Kings list this year -- making him one of the the richest rappers in the world. His total fortune is estimated at more than $250million.

Last year, Taiwanese electronics company HTC paid $300million for a 51 percent stake in Dr Dre's headphones operation.

Dr Dre, 47, himself pocketed $100million of that cash.

The business began in 2006 after an epiphany. Dr Dre was reportedly walking along the beach with Interscope Records Chairman Jimmy Iovine, contemplating whether he should launch his own line of shoes.

'(Forget) sneakers,' Mr Iovine reportedly said. 'Let’s sell speakers!'

Dr Dre has relied on endorsement by popular musicians to help sell his pricey earphones.

Justin Bieber, Lady GaGa, will.i.am. and P Diddy have all been tapped to endorse different head phone models.

The result of all that star power has been millions and millions of sales. With headphones priced between $150 and $400 -- Dr Dre's company has raked in impressive revenue numbers.

The sales figures seemed to have been so good that Dr Dre was confident enough to buy back half of HTC's stake.

Across the hip-hop industry, successful business ventures are the primary source of income for most of the wealthiest rappers -- proving it's more about the buiness skill than the mustic.

Number two on the Forbes list, Sean 'Diddy' Combs earned $45million, mostly from buisness deals, including a share of Diageo’s Ciroc vodka.

Jay-Z earned $38million as part owner of the Brooklyn Nets with his hands in deals with Budweiser and Duracell batteries. He is also touring on an new album.

Kanye West, earning $35million off his music and a line of shoes and women's clothing, and Lil Wayne -- $27million, round out the top five on the list.

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