Beats: Fashion-conscious headphones set to make Dr. Dre hip-hop's first billionaire

 Dr. Dre and LeBron James
Dr. Dre and LeBron James Photo: Reuters

US hip-hop mogul Dr. Dre has appeared to confirm a $3.2 billion (£1.9 billion) deal with Apple for Beats Electronics, the six-year-old company behind his fashion-focused headphones and portable speakers.

In a video posted on Facebook by actor and singer Tyrese Gibson on the day rumours of the deal emerged, Dre tells the camera: "The first billionaire in hip-hop, right here from the West Coast.”

DJ David Guetta holding a pair of Beats headphones. Credit: PA

The company, which makes products under the brand Beats by Dr. Dre, was founded in 2008 by the 49-year-old rap star and his mentor, music producer Jimmy Iovine.

Focusing on headphones with a distinctive look, advanced noise-cancelling capabilities and a bass-heavy sound, Beats quickly cornered the market in premium headphones.

US rappers Nicky Minaj and Lil Wayne, wearing a jewel-encrusted pair in 2012. Credit: Reuters

Bulky, bright, and all stamped with a 'b' logo, the headphones also grew in popularity thanks to endorsements from music, sport and showbiz stars. Last year fashion designer Alexander Wang created a limited-edition pale gold and matte black collection for the firm

In 2012, Beats accounted for 64% of headphones selling for more than $100 in the US, retail analysts NPD Group said. The company was valued at more than $1 billion (£620 million) last year.

US actress Katie Holmes wearing the headphones on a film set in 2010. Credit: PA

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!!!!!

– US singer Tyrese Gibson's post on Facebook
Dr. Dre with actor and singer Tyrese Gibson, who released a Facebook video as the rumoured Apple deal went public Credit: Facebook/Tyrese Gibson

There have been raised eyebrows among some technology analysts over Apple's potential purhase.

“This is really puzzling,” Forrester Research analyst James McQuivey sais. “You buy companies today to get technologies that no one else has… or customers that no one has.”

“They must have something hidden… under the hood.”

Former Manchester City star Mario Balotelli sporting a pink pair in 2012. Credit: PA

It has been suggested that Apple's focus may be on merging Beats Electronics' music streaming service Beats Music with it's own, iRadio.

Beats Music focuses on playlists devised by a selection of high-profile artists and publications.

Barcelona forward Neymar wears a pair in his country's colours last year. Credit: PA

Beats Electronics does not release information on Dr. Dre's stake in the company, but as a majority owner, he is expected to see a healthy return if the deal goes ahead.

He will be propelled to the top of the Forbes list on hip-hop’s wealthiest artists - which last week placed Sean Combes, aka P-Diddy, at the top, with a net worth of about $700 million.

More: Apple 'in talks' to buy Beats Electronics for $3.2 billion