Dr. Dre and LeBron James wearing Beats.
To piece together a bio of Dr. Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, the WSJ spoke with colleagues and acquaintances of the rap superstar who will soon take a seat as a senior executive at Apple. The company was purchased for $3 billion in late May and Apple expects the deal to be finalized by the end of its fiscal fourth quarter.
According to the publication, Dre operates mostly behind the scenes, offering assessments of products or ideas at Beats that come with little or no explanation. His comments are usually terse -- dismissing an idea with "I'm not feeling that" -- and his word is usually followed as Dre serves as the company's "cultural barometer."
Dre's main job is to tweak the audio of Beats Electronics' headphones, but the rapper-turned-tech executive has his hands in everything from future products, ads and even font styles. With a finger on the pulse of pop culture, Dre is able to offer unique insight on current trends across a variety of industries.
Jimmy Iovine, the music mogul who worked with Dre for years in the music industry and cofounded Beats, noted the rap guru is very aware of what is cool.
"Once you try to describe cool you run the risk of going perpetually to non-cool hell. The whole premise is not to talk about it," Iovine said.
Although Iovine is said to have done most of the wheeling and dealing for the Apple deal, it was Dre who showed up in a cameo appearance during this year's WWDC keynote. In a demo of OS X 10.10.Yosemite's new "continuity" features, SVP Craig Federighi made a live call to Dre, routing the audio from his iPhone through an onstage iMac.
Source: Beats Music
Some industry watchers believe Dre and Iovine were the main targets of the Beats acquisition. With Iovine's storied background in the music business and Dre's "cool factor," the pair could rejuvenate Apple's iTunes, which is seeing increased pressure from streaming radio services like Pandora and Spotify.
It's not clear what roles "Jimmy and Dre" will fill at Apple, though CEO Tim Cook said the Beats buy gives the company a head start in the subscription-based music streaming business.