Will.i.am recognizes the power of culture.
It’s why he featured the Beats headphones in The Black Eyed Peas’ “Boom Boom Pow” music video 14 years ago. The video has amassed over 462 million views (at the time of this writing).
“One of the first things that we did was ‘Boom Boom Pow,'” will.i.am explained during an interview on Wondery podcast “Baby, This Is Keke Palmer.” “I’m like, ‘Yo, I wanna put the product in the song.’ I be rockin’ them beats, I was talking about headphones on that joint. So, that just showed us what Black entrepreneurship, us owning our own stuff, what we can actually do from culture.”
Beats Electronics is arguably one of the greatest business deals in Hip-Hop history. However, will.i.am suggests the venture may not have ever existed without him.
“So one day I come home from tour and I tell Jimmy, I’m like, ‘Yo, Jimmy, let’s use our music to sell our own stuff. Let’s make our own stuff. Let’s make our own hardware,'” will.i.am shared on the podcast. “So Jimmy’s like, ‘Well, you know why they call it hardware? It’s because it’s hard.’ I’m like, ‘Yeah, but come on, Jimmy like look at the stuff that you’ve done. You’ve done Tupac, Snoop, Dr. Dre. That’s hard. This tech stuff ain’t that hard, and we could use the power of the might of our reach to sell our own stuff.'”
One year after the conversation, will.i.am says Iovine circled back to what was discussed and introduced the idea of them selling speakers with Dr. Dre’s help.
He continued, “A year later he’s like, ‘I was listening. I remember some of the things you were talking about last year. And Dre, his manager wants him to sell sneakers. What if we sell speakers? You want be a part of it?'”
Will.i.am agreed, and moving forward with the venture would ultimately benefit all parties involved.
Beats Electronics launched in 2006, and within five years the majority of the company’s shared had been sold to HTC for $309 million, per the Los Angeles Times.
However, it didn’t take long for HTC to begin selling back its shares to Beats By Dre. In a statement released in 2012, both parties mentioned they were “realigning their agreement to provide Beats with more flexibility for global expansion,” according to Billboard.
By 2013, HTC had sold its remaining 24.84% stake in the company in an effort to improve its cash balance, TechCrunch reported.
Beats Electronics and Beats Music would be acquired by Apple in 2014 in a deal valued at nearly $3 billion, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The milestone meant Dr. Dre was one of the wealthiest in Hip-Hop, as AfroTech previously told you.
Under the deal, Dre and Iovine would join Apple and, per Forbes, the rapper-turned-mogul became about $500 million richer.
As for will.i.am, if he owned just a 1% share, that would mean he could have pocketed around $30 million, Billboard reports.