XXL celebrates 50 years of hip-hop with this moment:
Jan. 6, 2008: Music mogul Jimmy Iovine and the world-famous Dr. Dre originally partnered in 2006, forming Beats Electronics. Their primary goals were to combat music piracy, and to improve the audio experience of music fans across the world. Their solution to the latter issue were the Beats by Dre Studio headphones, which debuted on Jan. 6, 2008.
The stylish headphones took off quickly, buoyed by many celebrity endorsements and a striking design. It started with music stars like Lil Wayne, Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj and Pharrell. The Beats brand even broke into the world of sports, becoming one of the bigger stories at the 2012 Summer Olympics, thanks to LeBron James and Michael Phelps wearing them. In 2014, the NFL banned Beats headphones on camera, because so many of their athletes were warming up with them on.
After the release of new versions of the headphones that were accompanied by new levels of success, Dre and Iovine launched Beats Music in 2014, a now defunct streaming service. The Beats brand of audio technology also found its was into computers, speakers, cars and even phones.
With all of that happening at a rapid pace, the company’s shining moment was still to come, as rumors began to swirl that Apple was in the process of purchasing the entire Beats company. Even with Tyrese Gibson inadvertently letting the news slip early in a Facebook post, the deal was still finalized months later, and the Tim Cook-led tech company acquired Beats Electronics for $3 billion.
It all started with a pair of headphones, and ended with Dr. Dre becoming one of the richest hip-hop legends of all time.