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.