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.