Compton's Own: A Rapper Gives Big For Performing Arts

When Beats Electronics sold to Apple for $3 billion, some were quick to dub rapper-producer Dr. Dre (born Andre Young), a billionaire. While this isn't exactly the case, the Compton-born hip hop icon is currently worth $740 million per a recent Forbes estimate. Not bad for a brand of music that was once just considered a fad.

The size of this fortune underscores a point we make often at Inside Philanthropy about the entertainment world, which is that as compensation for industry winners has soared into the stratosphere, a lot more spare cash has become available for serious philanthropy. This is a big change from earlier times, when entertainment figures were often quick to lend their names to causes, but didn't have the capacity to give at a notable level. Today, the top earners from entertainment can command piles of money of a size more typically associated with Wall Street or tech. And bigger giving is following. 


Dre is a good example. A few years ago, Dre and his business partner, Jimmy Iovine, gave $70 million to the University of Southern California to create the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. Its "undergraduate degree program focuses on nurturing and developing original thought, leading to breakthrough products, systems, technologies and more." 

When Dre released his latest studio album, appropriately titled Compton, he also announced plans to fund a new performing arts center in his old neighborhood. Well, now comes news that Dre will be making good on his plans with a new $10 million pledge to build a performing arts complex at the new Compton High School.

As he puts it, "My goal is to provide kids with the kind of tools and learning they deserve. The performing arts center will be a place for young people to be creative in a way that will help further their education and positively define their future."

Remember that Dre grew up in a musical family and both of his parents were singers. Moreover, the gangsta rap subgenre that he helped pioneer, g funk, relied heavily on retooling old school funk, soul, and R&B for the modern era. 

The planned performing arts complex will "provide students with state-of-the-art equipment and technology, including digital media production facilities and a 1,200-seat theater." The center will also serve as a resource for the broader Compton community. Dre himself will help raise the remaining funds to complete the center, set to start construction by 2020. 

Dre has reportedly also been involved with charities like the Michael J. Fox Foundation, and (RED), which aims to deliver the first AIDS-free generation. Only 52, Dre's philanthropy is probably just getting started, but as one of the world's richest rappers, he's likely to increase giving down the line. For a full overview of Dre's philanthropy, read our Glitzy Giving profile linked below.

IP Dr. Dre Profile