Dr. Dre's Beats Bonanza: How He Could Become Hip-Hop's 'First Billionaire'

Chamillionaire, it's time to consider a name change. 50 Cent, you're chump change. Dr. Dre is about to become unrivaled among his peers.

That's because the artist otherwise known as Andre Young, one of hip-hop's early pioneers, is reportedly on the cusp of selling his company, Beats Electronics, to Apple for a bling-tastic $3.2 billion.

The deal, said to be imminent, would instantly elevate Dre above the rap mogul likes of Jay Z and Diddy.

Dre, who came up through the streets of Compton and was a founder of the rap supergroup N.W.A. alongside a group of friends that included Ice Cube, teamed up to found Beats with Interscope records chairman and co-founder Jimmy Iovine in 2008. The company focused its early efforts on the "Beats by Dr. Dre" line of high-end headphones.

       [Related: Dr. Dre, Eminem, Mase, and Nas Perform in L.A. for Beats Music Launch Party]

In January, the duo added Beats Music to their portfolio. The online streaming service, launched with a $60 million investment and the participation of fellow artists like Trent Reznor, competes with Spotify, Rdio, and Rhapsody. The $10-a-month subscription offers a deep catalog of songs and, to differentiate itself in a crowded marketplace, offers curated playlists.

If the deal comes to fruition, it will be a huge departure in strategy for Apple. Under the late Steve Jobs, the company had been notorious for its lack of high-profile acquisitions, in comparison to competitors like Google and Facebook, despite having $159 billion in cash in its coffers. 

However, Apple's current chair, Timothy D. Cook, said in a recent earning's call that the company has actually acquired 24 companies though in the past 18 months. The Beats Electronics deal would be Apple's largest acquisition in company history. 

The acquisition of Beats isn't a done deal yet though. However, people close to the situation tell the New York Times that if the deal is completed, it could be announced as soon as next week.

Word of the pending transaction first surfaced Thursday. But noted music analyst and blogger Bob Lefsetz made the prescient, if tongue-in-cheek, prediction in an April Fools Day post on his site.

Early Friday, Dre's friend Tyrese Gibson posted a Facebook video seemingly confirming the news. Tyrese later removed the clip from his page, but not before it was picked up widely.

"It's not often that you get to listen to Beats with Mr. Beats himself," Tyrese begins.

"Billionaire's boy's club for real," he continues. "The Forbes list just changed."

"The first billionare in hip-hop, right here from the motherf----n' West Coast," Dre later bragged.

The caption to the now deleted video originally read, "How did I end up in the studio with Dr Dre ON THE night his deal went public that he did with Apple 3.2 BILLION!!!! The BEATS HEADPHONES JUST CHANGED HIP HOP!!!!!"

Forbes will need to break out the calculators to rework next year's "Hip-Hop Cash Kings" list.

Diddy topped the most recent version (from September) by banking $50 million over the previous 12 months, mostly on the back of his investment in Ciroc vodka. Jay Z ranked second with $42 million. And Dre was No. 3 with $40 million, with a bulk of his earnings coming from Beats. Expect that number to jump drastically if the Apple deal is made. Dre was the top earner the year before, with Diddy in second place on the list, and Jay Z in third.

If Dre and Iovine do become billionaires, there's a good chance much of that money could go to charitable causes. In May 2013, they made a $70 million donation to the University of Southern California to found The Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. The endowment created an undergraduate program designed to spur innovation in technology and the arts. The university's president described the donation as the largest gift ever from the entertainment industry to higher education in the U.S.

"This is about treating what a kid is today," Iovine said at the time. "This place is a dream factory. This place is where you don't have to get stuck in calculus to succeed at this school. It has other ways through, other paths."

The first class of 25 students is expected to matriculate in the program this fall.