Real Name: Andre Romelle Young
D.O.B.: February 18th, 1965
Label: Aftermath/Interscope Records
Dr. Dre is perhaps this generation’s most consummate hip-hop producer, sustaining at the pinnacle of the continual momentum of hip-hop particularly in the west coast for over twenty-five years. This blankets every generation of hip-hop development at which he can be held primarily accountable for. His change of direction and influence completely shifts the balance of power within the music industry. Dre has been at the forefront of the west coast movement as a major role-player from day one and is today considered the Godfather of G-Funk, from the ground up, unmistakably the greatest hip-hop producer the world has ever heard.
In introducing the 6’1” 230 pound Dr. Dre, we shake hands with the revolutionary conception of the G-Funk movement, a distinct brand of west coast funk production developed to individualise the Gangsta Rap scene from its coastal counterpart on the East. Dr. Dre is the puppeteer to the evolution of Gangsta Rap interest since the turn of the 1980’s and to this day remains at the forefront of the industry as one of the most consummate producers in the game. From reinventing the trend of Electronic Funk in LA’s club scene to playing a starring role in introducing Compton to the world in the mega-rap outfit N.W.A. who shook contemporary music down to its very roots and strong-armed them to adopt Gangsta Rap into their top ten slots. This would briefly sum up the beginning stages of Dre’s early career as hip-hop’s Super-Producer. After forming the most powerful hip-hop record label and producing work for today’s face of west coast Gangsta Rap, he has released two of the greatest west coast branded rap albums as a solo artist and produced masterpieces of some of the greatest hip-hop artists of our time. The Godfather of G-Funk is currently working on his third and most anticipated solo album, at the head of one of the most successful record labels in hip-hop.
The beginning of this story finds us in Compton, California where Andre was born in 1965 and grew up with his mother, Verna and father, Theodore Young who were both aspiring musicians, Verna almost made a part of The Four Aces group but fell pregnant at fifteen years young to Theodore, seventeen. The couple were married by their parents two weeks prior to giving birth. He was named Andre Romelle after Theodore’s unsigned group, The Romells. Verna had just had her sixteenth birthday. Soon after Verna and Theodore experienced an horrific cot death of their second child Jerome, a would-be younger brother to Andre who himself was less than eighteen months old. This left Verna a scarred woman, and soon relations between her and Theodore grew bitter and by late March 1968, they were separated. Soon after Verna fell pregnant by another man, Curtis Crayon and provided Andre with a younger brother, Tyree Du Sean Crayon. At parties thrown by his young mother, four year-old Andre would change 45 vinyls on the record player, determining what the crowd would dance to next. He took interest in the sounds and remembered favourite records by their cover pictures and soon had set lists stacked to play.
While growing up Andre and Tyree were constantly moving from apartment complex, to house as Verna always tried to make a home for her beloved sons. When their mother heard of her sons being bullied in the neighbourhood she would up and move to a new area within Compton. Andre and Tyree would change schools and find it hard to settled down with friends. Verna also saw it as a way of ensuring her sons were not sucked into the vacuum of gang-life spreading through the city. By 1977 Verna had uprooted and moved her family out to Carson, into a house that required renovation. She hired her work-colleagues one of whom was Warren Griffen, an upper-management father of four at her job in Long Beach. Through this period, Verna divorced Curtis and grew closer to Warren. They got married and moved into a new place back in Compton where Andre his brother, and sister by Curtis were joined by new step-father, Warren and his only son, Warren Griffen Jr. who spent weekends with his father. Dre would later have a protégée to the formula of G-Funk and Long Beach scout, the Regulator Warren G.
An adolescent Andre spent his spare time as a dancer in a group performing at local talent shows wearing flashy suits hand-made by his devoted mother. He took on the new wave pop-locking fad from local entertainers Don Campbell and the Campbellocks. After a disappointing talent show loss, Andre gave in the flash suits and moves. He found his true calling in engineering the sounds of music. He had a natural flair for the art and through his teenage years took to DJing whole- heartedly and was soon modelling Grandmaster Flash and DJing at the back of his house and across at the local park as part of group called Freak Patrol. His formative upbringing was through Afrika Bambaataa and The Soul Sonic Force’s “Planet Rock” and The furious Five’s “The Message.” While changing from Centennial High to Fremont High, Andre amerced himself in the culture of east coast hip-hop. He would buy new records weekly from the hottest acts coming out of New York’s scene. By December 15th, 1981 a girl in Paramount city gave birth to Andre’s first-born son, Curtis Young. Whether Andre was aware of this, is not known. Curtis would grow up to become a rapper in his own right, Hood Surgeon, the son of Dre. He apparently met his father for the first time at the age of 21. However at just sixteen, Andre’s interest were concentrated on the latest music and a Culver City girl named Lisa Johnson.
Andre learned of former Locking dancer, and promoter Alonzo ‘Grandmaster Lonzo’ Williams who had started a mobile DJ crew called Disco Construction, was playing shows at new nightclub, Eve’s After Dark on Avalon and El Segundo in Compton run by Lonzo. Dre visited the joint and soon became a regular. He witnessed the DJs working the stage behind brand new turntable equipment, studying their moves. Lonzo had his performers dressed in uniformed lavender outfits, heels and slacks stepping in choreographed dances. Lonzo had his entertainers sport jackets with ‘Wreckin Cru’ on the back. Dre wanted in. He wanted to be in the Wreckin Cru. Dre was inspired to perform his DJing routines around town from a van, playing p-funk from George Clinton’s Parliament. In January 1983, his girlfriend Lisa gave birth to his second child, a daughter named La Tanya Danielle Young. This time he was present at the hospital after the girl was born, despite Lisa’s mother’s bitter dislike for him. Now a proud father, Andre furthered his quest to join Lonzo’s crew. He frequented Eve’s when he finally found his moment, that initial fifteen minutes. His distant relative, Tim knew Lonzo and saw to it thatr Andre get a spot filling in a DJ spot. He challenged one of Lonzo’s top spinners DJ Yella, (Antoine Carraby). Dre went after Yella, and opened with Bambaataa’s “Planet Rock” then the Marvelette’s Motown hit, “Please Mr. Postman” on the second turntable, where he mixed both records and had their countering tempos meet halfway. The crowd cheered, showing their appreciation for this brave engineering. Lonzo gave him a nod and another chance to perform at Eve’s with his Cru. That evening Dre remodelled himself into Dr. Dre the Master of Mixology after NBA star, Julius ‘Dr. J’ Erving. Lonzo soon offered Dre a $50 DJ spot per night. He got that jacket, the newest member of the Wreckin Cru. Dr. Dre as we know him was born that night.
Queens, New York super rap group, Run DMC changed the way Dre saw hip-hop. Their style, their noise and swagger completely flipped Dre 180 degrees their direction. Their single, “Sucker MC’s” floored him, he bought a copy and repeatedly played the music trying to isolate every instrument and memorising every note. He learned his way around a drum machine from Eve’s and recorded his makings. He would sit and listen to it, get up repeat it, changing one aspect at a time, experimenting new sounds and developing new techniques of a seemingly endless art form. Soon Dre was making final cuts to tape and marketing them to clubs, friends and local promoters. A Dre tape sound found its way to the front doorstep of local radio station, KDAY’s newest musical director, Greg Mack. The station found an answer to competing with the larger scale station, KFGF. Dr. Dre and Yella were poached to work on the radio station making mixtapes for the five o’clock rush hour program, The Traffic Jam. The pair came back with fifteen-minute pieces and by September, 1983 their routines were aired on KDAY and one day the small Echo Park station’s ratings increased to an incredible 22 percent in audience share becoming number one at that time slot. After seeing Run DMC perform at Eve’s one night in late ‘83, Jam Master Jay gave Dre some advice on becoming a more commanding rapper on stage. Both Dre and Yella felt they had the confidence to become performers and record their work. Lonzo had pressured them into a studio to record more accomplished tracks.
By 1984 Dre, Yella and Lonzo joined the rest of the Wreckin Cru at Torrance studio, Audio Achievements run by engineer, Donovan Smith. Against Dre and Yella’s new style, Lonzo put $100 down to record two “Planet Rock” like cuts, “Slice” and “Cru Groove” with dance beats and simple scratches. Dre and Yella filled a tape full of drum beats and scratches for the record. Lonzo in turn would take the tapes to Santa Monica pressing plant, Macola to press a few hundred vinyl. Macola, for a few hundred dollars would let you press your music under your own record label, in Lonzo’s case, Kru-Cut Records and keep control of the publishing rights. Soon the Cru were selling twelve-inch, double-sided singles out of the trunk of Lonzo’s Mazda RX-7. They eventually sold over five thousand copies. This encouraged Dre to further invest all his time in a career as a performer. Be it as a DJ or rapper, this was the direction to take. By February 1984 Dre was nineteen years old and too old to stay at Fremont high where he was failing at, his mother urged him to continue schooling to finish his senior years. He enrolled in Chester Adult School in Compton. He even signed up at a radio broadcasting school, only to find out he already knew the ropes they were teaching him to climb. He moved out of home and in with his grandparents’ then his biological father, Theodore’s place until he was arrested ona drug charge. He moved back in with his mother and siblings. Andre stayed there for the following two years, completed his education at Chester and still a Cru member at Eve’s making over forty-nine cuts with DJ Yella. After small record shop owner, Steve Yano took Dre’s tape to the swap meet where crowds chanted for Dre to perform live, pushing his tapes for sale, he became the hottest DJ in town, and the Wreckin Cru’s most talented performer. Dre was now performing behind the wheels of steel in a long white lab coat with a stethoscope for a necklace. Newest Cru emcee, Cli-N-Tel wrote raps about Dr. Dre performing surgery behind the decks. Soon the single, “Surgery” would be the promotional track for Dr. Dre’s DJing. Cli-N-Tel would rap,
“L.A. is the place to be for you to witness Dr. Dre in surgery
Seven days a week, he’s on call/to get the party people up off the wall”
During the break section of the song Dre would do a scratch solo giving a weakened-produced song a more hardcore edge to it. Lonzo would still insist on the songs following the “Planet Rock” played-out format, similar format to rival group, Uncle Jam’s Army by Roger Clayton. Then following the break unnaturally Dre would break out in a lyrical outlet with,
“I’m Dr. Dre, gorgeous hunk of a man/doing tricks on the mix like no others can.
The nurses say I’m cute, they say I’m fine/but you betta beware cuz’ i’ll blow your mind.
I’ll take you to my car I’ll take you to my home hands up and down your body my finger will roam.
The nurses say that I’m nasty they say I’m mean but when you come to my pad you’re guaranteed to scream.”
“Surgery” took in 50,000 copies, ten times greater than their previous releases. Lonzo was enthused, Dre and Yella were pissed. The sales were there, the work was deep but the money ran thin. They felt they were not getting their share. At the time, Michael Jackson’s Thriller was the biggest musical sensation in history. Lonzo figured, his style of flashy dress and music was what the Wreckin Cru needed. Again Dre had his imitation pointing in another direction. Three cocky, Adidas sneaker-stamping, black jeans and jacket sporting Queens-kids, Run DMC.
Lonzo had landed a record deal with CBS Recordings from his recent recordings and with profits off the club, Lonzo built a studio at the back of the venue and Dr. Dre would produce the early tracks of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru. A year later Kru-Cut had released World Class’ début album, World Class co-produced by Dre and Yella. After a string of singles they came out with their follow-up album Rapped in Romance all recorded in Lonzo’s back room studio. Other frequent performers, CIA who consisted of the future talented Ice Cube, Sir Jinx and K-Dee would use the studio for recording their own work. Here many hours of experimenting on new equipment lead to Dr. Dre producing tracks for Ice Cube’s CIA, making three recordings “My Posse”, “Ill-Legal” and “Just for the Cash”. Dre was a cousin to CIA’s Tony ‘Sir Jinx’ Wheaton and O’Shea ‘Ice Cube’ Jackson grew up nearby Dre in South Central and often hung out together, Dre was really into their style. It wasn’t long before both came together calling themselves Stereo Crew. Mixmaster Spade was schooling undergraduate superstars on the finer art of turntablism. Compton Posse’s Toddy Tee had an explosive South Central anthem, “Batterram” recorded in his bedroom and production added in from Dre himself. The track was released in the summer of 1985 and became an incredible street-favourite and the most requested track on KDAY FM. Soon after Dre worked on producing tracks for Spade, “Just Say No,” “You Better Bring Your Gun” and “Genius is Back” both co-produced with DJ Pooh. All these added to building Dre’s impressive resume of work. His time was also split with the commission of working on projects for Eric Wright who paid Lonzo for the use of his Kru-Cut studio for Ice Cube’s CIA group and further World Class recordings.
Dre had scheduled spots at Skateland USA and Eve’s After Dark where the three tracks for CIA were laid down. Lonzo signed them under his Kru-Cut Records for a meagre weekly stipend each. Dre had eventually outgrown the World Class persona of elaborate glitzy outfits and felt that Lonzo’s vision was not of his future and he attempted to break away from Kru-Cut Records and forego his electro-funk career in favour of pursuing a solo restart. However Dre was heavily under contract and debt to Lonzo as he owed payments for using the studio for side projects and bail money for every time Lonzo paid for his release from county jail for continual unpaid parking fines. Dre was bound to work endlessly for Lonzo’s label. He had also allowed Dre to use his car while his impounded and was then stolen from Dre while he was imprisoned again. The car note was not yet paid off and Lonzo was short of money himself and was ready to cut Dre’s assistance off. Bail was set for $900 and Eric Wright came to his rescue with the financial aid in return for Dre’s help with producing tracks for Wright’s new recording label, Ruthless Records.
A local Compton-bred drug dealer and business entrepreneur Eric Wright was a regular face at Eve’s he became increasingly involved in the idea of starting a record label in which to sell recordings of his South Central-Compton rap scene. Wright discovered the souring relationship between Dre and Cube with Alonzo and separately whispered the idea in Dre and Cube’s head to form a South Central rap super-group. Wright had formed an alliance with them and paid Lonzo for the use of his studio in which Wright hired Dre to produce tracks for an east coast group - HBO, (Home Boys Only). Cube was to ghost write the lyrics. This was not to eventuate as the group refused to perform the lyrics written by Cube. A specific track turned down by HBO which was a vivid and street-cred South Central anthem called “Boyz N The Hood”. The lyrics were destined to be heard. As Cube had left LA in 1986 to forego his early rap career in favour of an architectural drafting degree in Phoenix, Dre insisted Eric should perform the hit. Eric was not a natural rapper, but was coached nicely into the hardened character of Eazy-E, reflecting the lifestyle of Wright’s hustle. The track was hot and played profusely on KDAY FM with Dre and Yella’s influence. By the close of 1987 it was the most requested on LA radio. During 1987 and ’88 Eazy and Dre worked through producing the music for the volume of lyrics left behind by Cube. With local Compton rapper, Lorenzo ‘MC Ren’ Patterson and producer Arabian Prince Ruthless Records created Niggaz With Attitude (NWA) and just before Ice Cube’s return to the forefront of the group, Macola Recordings released their debut EP NWA & The Posse which was a Dre-produced album originally marked for Houston, Texas group, Fila Fresh Crew starring Tracy ‘D.O.C.’ Curry. This was not an official Ruthless endorsed NWA album but nevertheless it showcased Dre’s next progression in production.
He owned the new formula to west coast rap music. Shortly after Cube returned and the group worked together on their first NWA album, Straight Outta Compton produced by Dre along with establishing himself as a rapper through various tracks. Along with the controversy and explosive nature of a new genre, the album sold two million copies and took Dre from the club and radio circuits in LA to the world. Straight Outta Compton is today regarded as the first and one of the greatest Gangsta Rap albums in history. Here the doctor begins collecting platinum-produced records. Dre was soon commissioned to produce Eazy’s début solo album, Eazy-Duz-It which spawned the release of “Boyz N The Hood” and other tracks with lyrics written by Ice Cube and The DOC. The album dropped cashing in on E’s soaring bad-boy popularity going double platinum immediately. The group’s second album was released a year later without Cube who parted ways with Eazy’s Ruthless Records over pay. By 1989 The DOC’s album was the next Dre-produced Ruthless record, No-One Can Do It Better there showed a distinct trend in Dre’s production as it was being moulded tightly into his now famous G-Funk. The record’s biggest hit was It’s Funky Enough. The album went platinum selling in excess of one million copies in the US.
Ice Cube had left Ruthless Records after not agreeing to a long-term contract with Ruthless Records. One of the greatest west coast writers had left NWA. By 1990 Dre was pressured into turning out more NWA albums for Eazy. 100 Miles n Runnin’ hit the streets in 1990 along with Efil4zaggin in ’91 both going platinum proving to be the new bounce of the west coast, a true credit to Dre’s production. However due to disparaging remarks sent out to Eazy and Ruthless Records from Ice Cube on his follow-up solo album Dre had come to the realisation that Eazy was ripping Dre off due percentages from album royalties. He too went solo, along with The DOC, his girlfriend Michel’le who had followed Dre from Lonzo’s World Class Wreckin’ Cru days. Ruthless Records and NWA faded into insignificance without the starring contributions from Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and DOC. The next chapter in Dre’s career would burst open like flood gates, just in case you thought he reached the pinnacle of his career with the Gangsta Rap explosion of NWA on the market. This was Dre’s time to control the fortune of his inventiveness. Free for the doctor to work in the production lab and experiment with this distinct new genre, the Frankenstein’s monster he later called G-Funk.
Life on Death Row
The DOC had suggested they leave Ruthless Records and pursue their careers elsewhere in the industry. The DOC knew Suge Knight who at the time was a bodyguard/talent manager trying to get a foothold in the entertainment industry. He befriended The DOC as he was in hospital recovering from an auto accident and through him met Dr. Dre who agreed to let Suge Knight handle the contractual dispute with Ruthless Records and Eazy-E for his release from the label. Through methods of threats and intimidation the problem was solved and Dre was free to go his own way. Knight had received cash investors to start his own label, using Dre’s credibility to sell the idea. Dre invested a 50% share Solar Records Dick Griffey and The DOC help fund this venture, along with notorious drug connections. Most influentially Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine granted Suge $10million start-up money if Dre was to sign up onto the label and produce albums for artist recruits. Jimmy expressed a very keen interest in the talents of Dr. Dre seeing him as being the best hip-hop producer in the game and was happy to have him signed with Interscope. The record label was eventually established and Death Row Records opened for business. Suge Knight and Dr. Dre were the CEOs.
The first commissioned project was Solar Records’ Deep Cover soundtrack and Dre was asked to add a new track to the compilation. Dre had heard a mixtape of Long Beach’s 213 group starring Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg and his half-brother Warren G. Warren sneaked it into a house party of Dre’s and played it. Dre recognised natural talent and asked Snoop Dogg to join him for a recording session. The pair clicked well and a lifelong friendship was found. The first track they collaborated on was the title track “Deep Cover: 187 On an Undercover Cop”. Snoops laid-back stoned drawl was the dopest flow the west had ever heard, together with Dre’s production genius Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg became the ultimate duo since Jordan and Pippen on the hardwood. They complimented each other perfectly. The track was explosive as it hit the streets. Dre’s new style had been recognised globally as G-Funk. Characterized by the use of George Clinton’s Parliament P-Funk samples, smooth melodic synthesisers over deep bass lines met with strong Compton-bred Gangsta-Rap as formulated from Dre’s early NWA career. This distinct signature production was called G-Funk. This took over the west coast in the 1990’s and changed history forever. The greatest example of Dre’s burgeoning G-Funk is framed tightly into The Chronic début solo album of Dre’s. Worked on 1991 in the early days of Death Row records existence, some of the early tracks were created in Griffey’s Solar Records studios before Death Row moved out to Tarzana. Snoop Dogg was the first artist Dre signed to Death Row. Snoop introduced the rest of his LBC family to Dre who dropped their raw verses on tracks for Dre’s upcoming album. The Chronic became a lethal platform for the host of growing Death Row family members.
Dre let rip a dozen unpaid, starving amateurs spitting venomously in the microphone booths under the resonating bass and sweet hooks of bouncing Parliament-Funk and Leon Haywood signatures. The new Long Beach energy perfectly accentuated the G-Funk and since Snoop Dogg barked on Deep Cover alongside Dre, had grown a rep as a serious emcee in LA. His flow was apparent on an almost equal level to Dre’s on the album, stirring Long Beach and Compton flavoured verses together to make one the greatest hip-hop albums ever released, an exemplary G-Funk era timepiece that launched the careers of some of the greatest Gangsta-Rap artists the west coast has ever heard.
“Nuthin’ But a G-Thang” was the first toke of Chronic from Dre and his freshly-baked protégée, Snoop Dogg who inhaled… Exhaled and drawled out a loose delivery of rhymes in perfect flow, another signature ingredient for the G-Funk recipe. Leon Haywood’s “I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You” backed up with the high pitch hook in the chorus that precedes what many peers in the industry and fans alike regard as containing some of the dopest rhymes ever recorded by any artist. This performance gave Snoop the undeniable title as the west coast’s Dopest Rapper. “Nuthin But a G-Thang” entered Rock n Roll Hall of Fame’s 500 Songs that Shaped Rock n Roll. It was down in Rolling Stone’s Top 500 Greatest Songs of All-Time (#419). The single was released January 19, 1993 and hit the Billboard charts at number two and on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks chart at number one.
“Fuck Wit’ Dre Day (and Everybody’s Celebratin’)” is today regarded as a classic diss-track adding to his peers in NWA against Eazy-E and Ruthless Records. The video depicted a character named Sleazy-E in comical fashion signing a contract with a fat, Jewish manager (depicting Ruthless manager, Jerry Heller) played by Interscope executive Steve Berman. The song and video continue aiming at New York’s Tim-Dog and Miami’s Luke Campbell from 2 Live Crew. Dre and Snoop add insult with their verses cruising LA in Dre’s own Black Chevrolet Impala lowrider. The track incorporates George Clinton’s 1979 hit ‘(Not Just) Knee-Deep’ with new Death Row stars Jewell and Snoop Dogg’s cousin RBX on the chorus. ‘Dre Day’ hit the streets going gold and instantly hit number eight on the Billboard singles chart.
“Let Me Ride” is the third hit from The Chronic and serves as a perfect example of the G-Funk blueprint of utilising George Clinton & Bootsy Collins’ P-Funk hit “Mothership Connection” and integrating samples from James Brown and Bill Wither’s 1971 “Kissin’ My Love” were also experimented with in this track with “Swing Down, Sweet Chariot” chiming on every chorus and cutting high pitched hooks behind the typical heavy baseline and well-executed rhyme performance from Dre alone. Additional background vocals supported by Jewell, Ruben and Snoop Dogg’s occasional input. The single was released October, 1993 and hit the Rap Singles chart at number three. Dre was awarded at the 1994 Grammys for Best Rap Solo Performance on “Let Me Ride.”
The Chronic is by far the most influential hip-hop album on the west coast, an archetypical exhibit of the new era in music. The definitive work of genius swayed the balance of power in hip-hop in the west coast’s favour for the duration of Dr. Dre’s finest hour of instituting a distinguishing west coast G-Funk genre of sound engineering and record production. The stage has launched the careers to some of hip-hop’s most gifted MC’s, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Daz, Lady of Rage, Nate Dogg and Warren G. These became previews to Dr. Dre and Death Row’s sweep in record sales over the following years releasing gold and platinum west coast heavy hitters for the artists stranded on Death Row. G-Funk was the hottest vibe in hip-hop and Death Row owned the rights, this certainly cemented Death Row’s place in hip-hop’s industry. Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg rode the path of success high and were rewarded along the way. The Billboard charts album lists, The Chronic hit number one on the R&B/Hip-Hop and number three on the Pop charts. It was included in Vibe’s “100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century Vibe” and ranked 137 in Rolling Stone’s list of The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time and Essential Recordings of the 90’s. The album was listed at number eight in Spin Magazine’s 90 Greatest Albums of the ’90s, and was even ranked sixth in Vibe’s Top 10 rap albums of all time. Sales from the album sent it three times platinum. Industry insiders and critics claim ‘The Chronic’ is clearly the best produced hip-hop album of all time. It went three-times platinum that year.
After riding high on Chronic, Dre headed back into Death Row’s studios to work on the debut album of the west coast’s wickedest MC, Snoop Doggy Dogg. Much like Dre’s opener, Doggystyle reinforced the talent out of Long Beach’s finest performers, Tha Dogg Pound who set the tempo for the record with their untamed persistence on the mic. Dre executed the engineering without fault and every track was hot. The album opened with a take-off scene of Super Fly sampling Curtis Mayfield’s title track, followed by another Parliament-Funk track from ‘(Not Just) Knee Deep’ to set the ambience of Dre’s continued ascension of G-Funk dominance. Snoop flowed in perfect parallel symmetry to the beat of some of the old school’s best kept melodies revived in Dr. Dre’s lab. The record produced singles, ‘Who Am I(What’s My name)’ sampled George Clinton’s ‘Atomic Dog’ in the chorus and ‘Knee Deep’ again for the baseline. This was the biggest single of 1993 going straight to number one on Billboard’s Rap Single chart and stayed there for three weeks. ‘Gin n Juice’ was the second single off Doggystyle following the first in being another early classic G-Funk and Long Beach collaboration The production contains use of Slave’s ‘Watching You’ in the chorus and George McRae’s “I Get Lifted” in the baseline. The single was nominated for Grammy’s Best Rap Solo Performance of 1995. The album was released November 23, 1993 and exceeded the success of ‘The Chronic’ selling an amazing 5.9 million copies in the US alone and stayed on the Billboard 200 album charts at number one for three weeks. It was at this stage the highest selling hip-hop album ever. The second half of the album was done in a few days. At a time where Dre was serving under house arrest he had no place else to be, so they drunk nine-fifths of Hennessy and polished it off. Dre has astounded the world of hip-hop again by dropping another platinum-selling G-Funk bomb to set the standards higher and reiterate his presence as the greatest hip-hop producer in the industry.
In between major recording productions Dre had fallen out with his wife, singer Michel’le who left to engage in relations with his CEO Suge Knight who was estranged from his own wife, Sharitha Knight. Dre and Michel’le had son, Marcel together. This was Dre’s fourth. Behind the scenes Dre and Knight’s business relations seethed.
Dre had been living the high-life lifestyle in Los Angeles since his employment with Ruthless Records. He owned a large mansion house in Calabasas with four-car garage complete with an array of automobiles. He lived down the road from Ruthless’ manager, Jerry Heller and continually held parties for the Death Row family who would turn the events into melees with the heavy gang presence of Suge’s entourage who would consume the neighbourhood with vehicles being driven dangerously and drunkenly, ever-present gangsta-rap with loud thumping bass-lines deafening neighbours, public group-sex orgies with groupies and turning Dre’s French Colonial living room into a boxing ring. Over the last four years of Dre’s life he had been caught in turmoil of the industry, he pleaded guilty to battery of a New Orleans police officer, escaped criminal assault charges by settling out-of-court with former ‘Pump it Up’ hostess Deniece Barnes and pleaded no-contest to breaking the jaw of rap producer Damon Thomas. He led several L.A.P.D. squad cars on a high-speed chase that ended horrifically when he drove off a cliff. Dre found himself under house arrest in 1992 to serve in his beautiful estate home. Unfortunately the house had burned down during a notorious Death Row party barbecue involving hardcore Blood gang members. Jerry Heller had driven past the house and witnessed a drunken Dre in the street laughing with friends as his house burnt to the ground. He had temporarily moved into an apartment on Venice Boulevard but was promptly evicted. By 1994 the twenty-nine year old most sought after record producer in hip-hop who was named by Newsweek ‘The Phil Spector of rap’ was back living with his mother.
By late 1995 Dr. Dre had made Death Row the most powerful record company of the early ‘90s and everybody was showered in dead presidents and fame. The scene was hot and Dre controlled the balance of west coast’s rap direction. He worked on albums for Tha Dogg Pound and the Above the Rim soundtrack before Suge Knight recruited Bay Area rapper/actor Tupac Shakur onto the Row. Tupac had been released from prison upon Suge Knight’s $1.4million bail and a signed hand-written contract to record three albums for Death Row Records. At the time Dre was working on the early production to his follow-up album, namely a track earmarked to be his next hit single, “California Love”. Tupac spent every waking moment recording tracks in the Death Row studios, attempting to release his highly-anticipated album fresh out of jail. It would be hip-hop’s first ever double album. Tupac’s project took precedence over the studios and Dre was commissioned to produce his tracks. Dre’s polished piece “California Love” was sitting in wait for Dre’s concentration, but it was decided by Suge Knight the single should go out on Tupac’s upcoming record, ‘All Eyez On Me’. In order to fit Tupac’s verse in the song Dre edited out his second verse and gave up the track to Tupac’s new album. The single was a revived Roger Troutman hit “So Ruff, So Tuff”. Tupac and Dre were not close work colleagues by any stretch but had mutual respect for each other. Both stars received Grammy nominations for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group (with Dr. Dre and Roger Troutman.) Dre had also contributed to ‘Can’t C Me’ on the second CD. The album was received better than expected as it was a rushed production by mainly Snoop’s cousin from Tha Dogg Pound, Dat Nigga Daz. The 27 track double album was finished in two weeks. It sold over nine million copies, it showed testament to Tupac’s high-fame in the music industry.
The change of environment in the Death Row studios was unseasoned and Dre found it hard to concentrate on his work surrounded by gang members and a volatile CEO, Suge Knight often resorting to violence and physical threats to rule his staff. Dre found it would be better for his work if he distanced himself from the controversy and gang culture threatening the creative atmosphere. Snoop Dogg was in the middle of a murder trial with body guard for the fatal shooting of Philip Waldermarian. Tupac publicly accused Dre of disloyalty to the Death Row family by not showing up in court to support his homeboy. Suge Knight was also disappointed in Dre’s non-appearances. Dre snapped back in The Source magazine by saying he doesn’t feel comfortable in the court room and Snoop never took it personally. However at this juncture in his career it was better for Dre to move away from the turmoil of this disruptive record label. In order to slip out of contract with Suge Knight safely, he left without the rights to his previous recordings and a large share of the company’s financial stake. This would leave Dre once again to rebuild his catalogue, however getting to this point was a dangerous obstacle.
Apart from Suge Knight, Tupac and other Blood associates assaulting Dre’s close friend and recording artist, Sam Sneed calling him Dre’s homosexual lover, Suge Knight continually tried to harass and threaten Dre and his credibility in the industry. Suge wanted the master tapes to his production catalogue from the start of his Death Row career. Suge phoned his house demanding he release them to him and eventually drove over to greet him at his house. According to Suge as stated in The Source Dre would not open his door leaving Suge to break in through a side gate to see people running and hiding. After the presence of a dozen or so LAPD squad cars were summoned he claimed he played pool, got the tapes and left. Dre however puts it into a different story, his door bell rang and somebody claimed to be Jimmy Iovine, when Dre opened, Suge and nine members of his entourage stormed through demanding the tapes. Dre told Suge they were being copied now, who waited and suggested Dre put the Death Row logo on his next project. Several days later the two met at Gladstone’s Restaurant in Malibu and had worked out their differences. With this Dre gave up the rights to his Death Row music catalogue and a sizeable share of the company’s financial stake in exchange for his freedom and release from the grips of Death Row Records. To Dre this was the most important factor to his livelihood.
After Dre’s break away from Death Row Records, he was left to rebuild his career again. He had sold his share of the record company to Suge Knight and relinquished the rights to his production and recording catalogue, this was possibly the safest way for Dre to severe ties with the notorious label boss. The half share of Death Row Records belonged to the total estimated worth of over $100million. Prior to leaving, he met with Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine who has always been a huge financial backer of Dre and regarded him as being the most prolific producer behind west coast hip-hop and the respect is mutual between the two visionaries. Dre was free to establish his own label and have sole creative power over his projects. His new venture was partly funded by Interscope and he promptly signed former LaFace Records employee, Kirdas Tucker as his general manager. Dre signed fellow Original Rapper from Compton King Tee and former Death Row label mate RBX. He also tried to get Sam Sneed onboard as well but he was still stuck in contractual dispute with Suge Knight and never signed with the label. He wanted to call the label Black Market Records but the name was copyrighted to some Bay Area rappers, he tried to buy it off them starting at $100,000 and going to a ridiculous figure, the name was never used instead calling it Aftermath Records. The first cut on the record label was “East Coast Killa/West Coast Killa” by Group Therapy (Nas, RBX, KRS-1 and B-Real) to headline the Aftermath compilation album, Dr. Dre Presents…The Aftermath. Dre’s first Aftermath solo track was ‘Been There, Done That’ referring to the new start of his career. By the end of 1996 Dr. Dre had found himself ranked 5th on The Source: ‘The Power 30’ list, Suge Knight had top billin’ at one.
Also Dre worked with east coast all-stars, Foxy Brown, Nas, Nature and AZ who formed the group The Firm. The main producers were Nas, Steve Stoute, Dr. Dre, and the Trackmasters who split the production work with Stoute recruiting artists for showcasing Aftermath’s line-up. Fans were seemingly only interested in Nas and Foxy Brown which, despite selling very well The Firm members disbanded to continue their solo careers. The album was released October 21, 1997 under Aftermath/Interscope Records.
During this separation and rebuild period in Dre’s life, he fell out with The DOC an old friend and respected colleague through his early career who met Dre at the point of signing with Eazy’s Ruthless label and the pair remained close, DOC helped convince Dre it was time to leave The Row and drive their own destinies. The pair left and it was The DOC who introduced Dre to Suge Knight who helped free the pair from Ruthless contracts in true Suge Knight Approach. However they worked together inside the Death Row studios until DOC had a life-changing car accident rendering his vocal abilities disabled and his recording career was shortened. The two had a falling out after DOC used the name ‘Helter Skelter’ for his follow-up album reserved by Dre for an upcoming project with Ice Cube. As well he tried to sue Dre over Death Row rights he and Knight split. Dre and DOC’s relationship shattered in business. Dre bitterly told Source magazine in a July ’96 interview he will never to another business deal with him.
Dre’s new freedom of expression through his music allowed him to wander around the possibilities of producing some rock n roll records. He was keen on producing a record for the black rock n roll bands that never get the accreditation they work for. This vision was to be called Ghetto Rock. The closest he came was co-producing for the hard-rock outfit Nine Inch Nails on a track “Even Deeper”. However the lure of his rap roots had him planted flatly behind the production desk in his new Aftermath studios. The track was released in 1999 the same year Aftermath Records would reach unprecedented levels of records sales. Dr. Dre’s and hip-hop’s most anticipated follow-up album was finally put into production. Tracks for ‘2001’ were consuming most of Dre’s time. This brought the interest straight back to the west coast for the first time since Dre and Tupac dropped “California Love” an original Dre cut created to head Dre’s follow-up album he started in ’95. Dre proved he was still the dopest producer in music as well as using it to platform the rookie career of Eminem and other newly signed Aftermath artists and the west’s most celebrated performers, Snoop Dogg, DPG, Xzibit, Hittman, King Tee, Knoc-Turn’al and MC Ren. 2001 debuted at number two on the Billboard Charts and was eventually certified 6x platinum by the RIAA. The singles “Still DRE” and “The Next Episode” brought us back to the original union of Snoop and Dre making history with their superb hooks. As anticipated the album is considered one of the greatest, a classic blueprint of G-Funk. During production of this masterpiece Dre had discovered, as rapper Snoop Dogg referred to him later through a collaboration track, as rap’s “great white American hope”. This would begin the transformation of the label into one of today’s most successful active record companies.
The New Generation
How fate crossed their paths together is unclear, but the demo tape of Marshall Mathers III landed into the hands of Jimmy Iovine who handed it straight on to Dr. Dre who saw the natural talent and potential of this starving young Detroit-based white rapper. Mathers had won second place in the 1997 Rap Olympics freestyle battle to Otherwize and Dre signed him up to Aftermath. The Real Slim Shady was released in 1999, quickly selling four million copies. The album was one of the most controversial and highest-selling hip-hop albums that year. The biggest rap icon since Tupac Shakur was embarking on a highly successful recording career with Dr. Dre behind him all the way. Iovine granted him his own record label working under Dre’s Aftermath. It is a Detroit-based company but headquarters are based in New York City. The Marshall Mathers LP was released in May 2000 under Aftermath/Interscope Records, going 2x Platinum that year and now stands at sales of over nine million copies. Dre’s newest protégée scouted his Detroit running mates onto his label. D12 members and Obie Trice joined Shady Records and too had their recordings surgically produced by Dr. Dre. Eminem and Dre both signed troubled New York artist Curtis Jackson III under both Shady and Aftermath Records. He became Shady’s opening lable act. 50 stretched the boundaries pulled by Eminem in controversy and record sales. The opening scene to 50’s first music video for the smash-hit track “What Up Gangsta” introduced the artist in a laboratory under experimentation by two doctors in white operating overcoats with clipboards observing the patient as he exercised. 50 Cent held tight to the notoriety of Dre and Eminem and became their primary project for Aftermath co-producing his debut album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’ which hit the streets selling 872,000 in its first week and eventually attained 6x platinum. In the same fashion as Eminem, 50 Cent was granted his own record label under Shady/Aftermath. He signed his New York crew, Tony Yayo and Lloyd Banks and South’s Young Buck to form the group he called G-Unit under G-Unit Records. Dre and 50 both co-signed Compton artist, The Game as a joint venture for Aftermath and G-Unit records. Dre discovered The Game after he was already signed with JT the Bigga Figga and originally signed up with Aftermath, but in a meeting with Iovine, he and Dre decided it might be better marketing for The Game to join 50 Cent’s G-Unit camp as they had the vehicle already taking over the mainstream culture and market. Both 50 and Dre produced his debut album The Documentary that went straight to number one on the Billboard charts and sold two million copies, (five million worldwide). Aftermath was becoming one of the most powerful hip-hop record labels at the turn of the century. Dr. Dre was crowned the GOAT Producer in hip-hop.
Waiting for Detox
Dre’s long awaited third solo album, Detox is due for release sometime in early 2008. Production started back in early 2004 but due to time running over on Ice Cube’s latest album and making changes to his tracks. A heavy workload with 50 Cent’s follow-up album, The Game’s first album forced the project to the side. Right now Dre is knee-deep in records putting together The Game’s follow-up album which in the title, ‘The Doctor’s Advocate’ pays homage to the legend. Dre has a reputation for taking his time on perfecting his work giving him an estimated time between albums of seven years. His solo albums become instant multi-platinum classics in any genre the moment they hit the streets. The Chronic and 2001 were both classic studio masterpieces and became the highest-selling rap albums of their time. Since producing Straight Outta Compton Dre has been regarded as being the most proficient producer in hip-hop. All three showcase the development of his signature G-Funk sound production that revolutionized the west coast Gangsta Rap scene. Now Detox is the most anticipated album in hip-hop right now far exceeding any other industry peers.
During the late hours of August, 2007 Dr. Dre came out of a long hibernation for the MTV Video Music Awards in las vegas to present an award alongside Mary J. Blige. He showed up looking extremely well-shaped, as bulked as 50 Cent and defined as Ladies Love. There are only three things in Dre’s daily agenda as he told the Los Angeles Times, producing, weight training and time with his family. At the VMA’s he announced that Detox was coming… This still brings no medic to us, as we ironically feel like going through cold-turkey waiting for this album drop. According to Interscope, there is still no confirmed date for the album.
Aftermath producer/multi-instrumentalist Mike Elizondo told Billboard.com in 2005 that Dre was perfectly content to take his time finishing the effort. “Dre has very high standards, he wants to shock the world and put something out that no one would have ever thought possible from a hip-hop artist. He’s definitely going to take his time and make sure it’s right.”
Dre mentioned that Detox will be his last project. “I think it’s time to move on, (rhyming is) a young man’s game.” He told the Times. The next two months rounding off 2007 Dre will devote the majority of his time to polishing Eminem’s next album. However there is new reports that Dre recently signed off on a multi-year production pact with New Line Cinema to score and possibly direct films with long-time associate and director, Philip G. Atwell.
If this G-Funk is in Dr. Dre’s blood then any product of his has to be tight…. The bloodline flows through the immortal Young into his 25 year old son, born Curtis Mclemore but changed his last name to Young when he met his biological father in 2002. He is now better known on the mic as Hood Surgeon. He is in the studios working on a new mixtape album with rapper Kokane called Autopsy. Tracks, “Malpractice” and “Compton City” are set to represent Compton, all over again. The album is to be released from independent record label So Hood Records for which he is the joint CEO with Jason Rosales.
Curtis was born December 15, 1981 to single mother from Paramount, outside of L.A. city. Andre was 16 at the time when the pair met at Centennial High School but was urged to have no part in the upbringing of the child. Curtis grew up hard in Compton with no handouts or financial support from Dr. Dre. His mother kept the identity of his father from him until he was twelve years old. He has since taken a keen interest in rapping and producing. There had never been any real association between father and son until recently in 2007 when Dr. Dre agreed to produce tracks for his opening act. Aside from this, Curtis had previously met Dre at the age of 21.
The reunion should make fine chemistry when the Doctor and the Surgeon are in the operating theatre together. Who knows maybe we will be blessed with an NWA Juniors click with Eazy-E’s son Lil’ Eazy who is going through the same grind as Surgeon, growing up with no influence of his father or record company. Keep posted for the debut album from Hood Surgeon, originally dubbed, The Autopsy but as of June, 2007 the title may have changed to ‘Son of a Doctor’. We wait, along with ‘Detox’ with baited breath.
At 22, Dr. Dre’s third born daughter, (of thirteen siblings) who goes by the alias, Manaj has developed into a budding rap offspring, showing the apple doesn’t fall far with this fem-fatale on the mic. Her breakthrough into the limelight will be through feature reality-based docu-film called, Daddy’s Shadow following Manaj as she prepares to record her début album in the studio with Wigga Wrecords with a tell-all on her life growing up under her father’s wings. This is due for a December, 2007 release through TM Media.
Unlike Hood Surgeon, Manaj was raised by her father who did not encourage her to become a recording star, and she is therefore left to fight her own way through the industry. She could become a burgeoning new artist with talent parallel to that of her famous father. Manaj has worked with brother, Surgeon on tracks and believes they will continue to collaborate on records. Who knows maybe daddy may lend his super-beats to their future projects. Fellow N.W.A. junior, Erin Bria Wright (E.B.) is also following the same path as her father, Eazy-E. Stay posted for these daughters of gangsta rap legends set to rewrite their father’s history. Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier can do it.
With World Class Wreckin’ Cru:
1984 Turn Off the Lights: Greatest Hits
1984 Rapped & Romanced
1985 Greatest Hits
1987 N.W.A and the Posse (1x Platinum)
1989 Straight Outta Compton (2x Platinum)
1990 100 Miles and Runnin’ (1x Platinum
1991 Niggaz4life (1x Platinum)
1992 The Chronic(3x Platinum)
1999 2001(6x Platinum)
1988 Eazy-E Eazy-Duz-It (2x Platinum)
1989 The DOC No One Can Do It Better (1x Platinum)
1993 Snoop Dogg Doggystyle (4x Platinum)
1996 Tupac All Eyez On Me (9x Platinum)
1997 The Firm The Firm: The Album (1x Platinum)
1999 Nine Inch Nails The Fragile (2x Platinum
1999 Eminem The Slim Shady LP (4x Platinum)
2000 Eminem The Marshall Mathers LP (9x Platinum)
2001 D12 Devil’s Night (2x Platinum)
2002 Eminem The Eminem Show (8x Platinum)
2003 50 Cent Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (6x Platinum)
2003 Obie Trice Cheers (1x Platinum)
2003 G-Unit Beg for Mercy (2x Platinum)
2004 D12 D12 World (2x Platinum)
2004 Eminem Encore (4x Platinum)
2005 The Game The Documentary (5x Platinum)
2005 50 Cent The Massacre (8x Platinum)
2005 (Soundtrack) Get Rich or Die Tryin’ (2x Platinum)
2005 Eminem Curtain Call: The Hits (2x Platinum)
2006 Busta Rhymes The Big Bang (1x Platinum)
2006 Nas Hip-Hop is Dead (Gold)
2006 Raekwon Only Built For Cuban Linx II
1992 Niggaz4Life: The Only Home Video
1994 Set It Off
2000 Up In Smoke Tour
2001 Training Day
2001 The Wash