You gotta get it – get it

Get it, playa

Count all the cash up

You gotta get it, get it, get it

 That’s Dr. Dre, if you were wondering, from a track called “Get Your Money Right.” Accompanied by The Game and reigning rapper-turned-wildly-successful mogul Jay-Z (he of immortal “I’m not a businessman, I’m a business, man!” fame), Dre spits some variation on the hallowed “I used to sell crack, now I rap about it” refrain. He lays down his rap bona fides with relish, reveling in the popular success and cultural recognition his rhythms and rhymes are raking in.

 

That was so 2004. Nowadays, Dre’s got bigger fish to fry.

 

By now, you have probably heard that Apple is buying Dr. Dre’s brainchild Beats, with its premium headphones and music streaming service, for a cool $3 billion. It is Apple’s biggest purchase to date, a mammoth deal that dwarfs previous acquisitions.

 

Now, if you have ever donned a pair of Beats or taken a glance at a company spreadsheet (not necessarily mutually exclusive activities), you may be wondering why exactly Apple is ponying up such an outrageous sum of money to cement this deal. It is no great secret that Beats headphones are rather awful. Roundly reviled as mediocre products slickly peddled by the grandmasters of popular music, Beats owes much of its success to first-rate marketing (although why anyone would buy anything based on will.i.am’s recommendation is one of those unfathomable mysteries usually reserved for religious texts and Neil Degrasse Tyson). Its music streaming service proved a staggering disappointment. To make matters worse, some financial analysts are hinting that as a company, Beats may not be doing a particularly great job of existing.

 

Simply put, Apple is losing its edge. With innovation stalled in the wake of Steve Jobs’ death, Apple is rapidly shedding its cult of cool and morphing into the same top-heavy tech super-giant it contrasted so sharply with during its heyday. Its stock is down. It may be slipping in the smartphone battle with Samsung. iTunes, its oh-so-cutting edge music service that revolutionized the industry just a decade ago is struggling to compete with new subscription and streaming services like Spotify and Pandora.

 

 The Beats acquisition looks like an attempt by Apple to buy back relevance and cultural status, mainly in the likes of Beats pilots Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. With Dre and Iovine on board, Apple has two certified music gods directing the company’s services into the future. It’s a blend of commercialized cool and big business, summed up nicely by this dainty picture.

 

 Time will tell whether Apple can strong-arm itself into vogue again. The picture looks bleak, but $3 billion is a lot of cash. It is unlikely Apple will come out a complete loser on this, their boldest of bets.

 

Tangential aside: When was the last time Dr. Dre put out a great album? Hip-hop’s first billionaire should watch out. He may soon be relegated to the same gilded mediocrity Jay-Z slipped alarmingly close to with his latest release.

 

What do you think of Apple’s acquisition of Beats? Do you think it is smart of Dr. Dre to follow the company? Sound off in the comments, or find me on Twitter @aa_murph