Though he hasn't released an album in 13 years, Dr Dre tops the Forbes list of the highest-paid musicians, earning $110 million between May 2011 and 2012. The overwhelming source of his wealth? A line of headphones. Examining how entrepreneurialism came to be one of hip-hop's defining traits, Christine Flamsholt Jensen summarizes a recent talk by David Hajdu:
While "white rock in the ‘60s and ‘70s is absorbed with a certain narrow definition of authenticity," Hajdu posits "hip hop rejected white rock, including its cynicism of everything to do with business." Hip hop's aesthetic is "centred on prowess."
In an era where performing artists are "laying claim to narrower and narrower categories, because there is a collapse of traditional musical infrastructure," Hajdu’s argument is that the hip hop milieu is way ahead of the game…. "The mastery with which the moguls have branded and diversified themselves has made them models of equity as opposed to production." Hajdu cites how Diddy has leveraged his income from music with shares in Ciroc Vodka, which now constitute 12% of his net worth.
(Photo: Jay-Z and Kanye West attend the GQ & Rocawear celebration of their fall campaign at Provacateur on September 15, 2010 in New York City. By Johnny Nunez via Getty. Created in 1999 by Roc-A-Fella Records co-founders Jay-Z and Damon Dash, Rocawear has annual sales of $700 million. Rocawear expanded its brand through licensing pacts to develop lines for children and juniors; socks and sandals; leather, suede, and fur outerwear; handbags and belts; lounge wear; big and tall; headwear; jewelry; and sunglasses; as well as co-branded product with Pro-Keds, State Property, and Team Roc.)