Dr. Dre is financially behind the Burning man Festival. Since 1995 he has paid the permit fees to the Nevada Bureau of Land Management and thus he collects the money from ticket sales sans some costs that go with the organization of the event itself. To avoid having to deal with scrutiny or show his participation in this event Dr.Dre does all burning man related business under a limited liability corporation called Black Rock City, LLC.
Burning man technically started in 1986 when some hippies named Larry (Lee) Harvey, Jerry James and a couple others burned a 9 foot wooden man on the Baker beach in San Francisco. They also burned a smaller wooden dog, because hippies love dogs. Harvey who basically claims to be the true creator of the burning man concept claims the idea to burn the man was a spontaneous act of radical self-expression. There is no way to verify these facts nor is there a way to confirm what drugs this group of hippies were using during this so called birth of Burning Man. The following year in 1987 the man grew to 15 feet tall and by 1998 it was 40 feet tall. Harvey swears he did not see the movie The Wicker Man until many years after he had his moment of radical self expression, he is almost definitely lying about this because he is a hippy and hippies lie a lot especially about having unique ideas.
It wasn’t until 1990 that Burning man moved to the Black Rock Desert 110 miles north of Reno Nevada, This is where it still currently happens each year. The 1990 event was planned by some different hippies, their names are Kevin Evans and John Law(clearly a fake hippy name). Evans conceived the new burning man to be a dadaist event with a temporary sculpture and the actual burning to be an act of performance art.
The original Hippies unfortunately got banned from burning their man on Baker beach, luckily they disassembled the man and rebuilt it in time for the New burning man festival in Black rock, which at this time was called Zone Trip #4.
The next year in 1991 somehow this group of hippies got the first legal permit to have the event through the Nevada Bureau of Land Management.
Nothing out of the ordinary changed between 1991 and 1994; the man and the size of the crowd getting bigger, hippies agreeing on different names for the event every year and of course lots of sandals and boob paintings.
In 1995 everything changed. Dr. Dre was scouting for his upcoming video shoot in the very same desert as the Burning Man setup crew began setting up the site. He inquired to the agenda of their setup finding out that nearly 4000 people or more were expected to show up for a free multiple day festival. Being a financially focused man Dre inquired further into the financial logistics of this event. After realizing that the event itself was based on a sort of communal new age rule set, Dre realized that this was an opportunity to set up an alternative organization system and profit from the large amount of people in attendance. The final straw for Dre was the fact that the members of the set up crew he had met had indicated that the permit the held with the Nevada BLM had expired and they could not afford its renewal again that year.
Dre took action immediately after leaving this scouting session, he paid for the permit under the stipulation that he would begin charging a modest entrance price for each participant of the festival. In 1995 the original price of entrance to Dre’s Burning Man was 35 dollars. Later that same year Dre dropped the single “California Love” with Tupac Shakur whom was freshly released from jail. From this year on Dre began silently profiting from the Burning Man festival, each year or so moving the price up slightly as the crowd grew, seeing it as a long term investment. By 2010 tickets ranged between 210-360 dollars depending on the type of participant and there was over 51,000 festival goers. On the low end of this equation Dre would have made 10.7 million dollars before expenses.
Dre’s patience and foresight combined with his personal non-participation and apathetic view of the actual event has made his secret participation in Burning Man a very lucrative investment. Further it is really the secretive nature of this business arrangement that is indicitive of Dre himself as well as such a shock to the general personality type that consistently participates in Burning Man. Who knew right. I did because I was on the original film crew of California Love in 1995 working under Hype Williams, in fact I found the letter posted on this very site in the Hotel room of Dr. Dre in Reno where we stayed during this very trip. I am not aiming to undermine the activities that go on within the Burning Man festival itself, I believe them to be pure and transparent in their agenda. My only purpose for sharing this delicate information is to reveal what is in my opinion an interesting and telling cultural juxtaposition between two cultures each whom view monetary trade very differently.