Dre began his career as a member of the World Class Wreckin' Cru and later found fame with the influential gangsta rap group N.W.A with Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella, which popularized the use of explicit lyrics in rap to detail the violence of street life. His 1992 solo debut The Chronic, released under Death Row Records, led him to become one of the best-selling American performing artists of 1993 and to win a Grammy Award for the single "Let Me Ride". That same year he produced Death Row labelmate Snoop Dogg's quadruple platinum debut Doggystyle, and even molded artists into top-notch producers such as his step-brother Warren G, which led to his multi-platinum debut Regulate...G Funk Era in 1994, and Snoop Dogg's cousin Daz Dillinger which led to the double platinum debut album Dogg Food by Tha Dogg Pound in 1995.
In 1996, he left Death Row Records to establish his own label, Aftermath Entertainment. He produced a compilation album titled Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath in 1996, and released a solo album titled 2001 in 1999. During the 2000s, he focused on production for other artists, while occasionally contributing vocals to songs. Dr. Dre signed Eminem in 1998 and 50 Cent in 2002 to his record label respectively, while contributing production on their albums. He has won six Grammy Awards, including Producer of the Year. Dr. Dre has also had acting roles in movies such as Set It Off, The Wash and Training Day. Rolling Stone ranked Dre at 56 on their list of "100 Greatest Artists of All-Time".
Young was born in Compton, California, the first child of Theodore and Verna Young. His middle name, Romelle, is derived from his father's amateur R&B singing group, The Romells. His parents married in 1964, separated in 1968, and divorced in 1972.:7–8 His mother later remarried and had three children: sons Jerome and Tyree (both deceased):7,25 and daughter Shameka.:6–8 In 1976, Young began attending Vanguard Junior High School in Compton, but due to gang violence, he transferred to the safer suburban Roosevelt Junior High School.:9 His mother later married Warren Griffin, whom she met at her new job in Long Beach,:10 which added three stepsisters and one stepbrother to the family; the stepbrother would eventually become rapper Warren G.:14
Young is the cousin of producer Sir Jinx. He attended Centennial High School in Compton during his freshman year in 1979, but transferred to Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles due to poor grades. Young attempted to enroll in an apprenticeship program at Northrop Aviation Company, but poor grades at school made him ineligible. Thereafter, he focused on his social life and entertainment for the remainder of his high school years.:2 Young fathered a son with Cassandra Joy Greene named Curtis (born December 15, 1981). Curtis was brought up by his mother and first met his father 20 years later, when Curtis became rapper Hood Surgeon.:11
1984–85: World Class Wreckin' Cru
Inspired by the Grandmaster Flash song "The Adventures of Grandmaster Flash on the Wheels of Steel", he often attended a club called Eve After Dark to watch many DJs and rappers performing live. He subsequently became a DJ in the club, initially under the name "Dr. J", based on the nickname of Julius Erving, his favorite basketball player. At the club, he met aspiring rapper Antoine Carraby, later to become member DJ Yella of N.W.A.:15 Soon afterwards he adopted the moniker Dr. Dre, a mix of previous alias Dr. J and his first name, referring to himself as the "Master of Mixology".:14 Eve After Dark had a back room with a small four-track studio. In this studio, Dre and Yella recorded several demos. In their first recording session, they recorded a song entitled "Surgery", with the lyrics "calling Dr. Dre to surgery" serving as the chorus to the song. He later joined the musical group World Class Wreckin' Cru under the independent Kru-Cut Records in 1984. The group would become stars of the electro-hop scene that dominated early 1980s West Coast hip hop. "Surgery", which was officially released after being recorded prior to the group's official formation, would prominently feature Dr. Dre on the turntable. The record would become the group's first hit, selling 50,000 copies within the Compton area.:14–15
Dr. Dre and DJ Yella also performed mixes for local radio station KDAY, boosting ratings for its afternoon rush-hour show The Traffic Jam.:17 Dr. Dre's earliest recordings were released in 1994 on a compilation titled Concrete Roots. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of the website Allmusic described the compiled music, released "several years before Dre developed a distinctive style", as "surprisingly generic and unengaging" and "for dedicated fans only".
His frequent absences from school jeopardized his position as a diver on his school's swim team. After high school, he attended Chester Adult School in Compton following his mother's demands for him to get a job or continue his education. After brief attendance at a radio broadcasting school, he relocated to the residence of his father and residence of his grandparents before returning to his mother's house.:18–19 He later dropped out of Chester to focus on performing at the Eve's After Dark nightclub.
1986–91: N.W.A and Ruthless Records
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In 1986, Dr. Dre met rapper O'Shea Jackson—nicknamed Ice Cube—who collaborated with Dr. Dre to record songs for Ruthless Records, a rap record label run by local rapper Eazy-E. N.W.A and fellow West Coast rapper Ice-T are widely credited as seminal artists of the gangsta rap genre, a profanity-heavy subgenre of hip hop, replete with gritty depictions of urban crime and gang lifestyle. Not feeling constricted to racially charged political issues pioneered by rap artists such as Public Enemy or Boogie Down Productions, N.W.A favored themes and uncompromising lyrics, offering stark descriptions of violent, inner-city streets. Propelled by the hit "Fuck tha Police", the group's first full album Straight Outta Compton became a major success, despite an almost complete absence of radio airplay or major concert tours. The Federal Bureau of Investigation sent Ruthless Records a warning letter in response to the song's content.
After Ice Cube left N.W.A in 1989 over financial disputes, Dr. Dre produced and performed for much of the group's second album Efil4zaggin. He also produced tracks for a number of other acts on Ruthless Records, including Eazy-E's 1988 solo debut Eazy-Duz-It, Above the Law's 1990 debut Livin' Like Hustlers, Michel'le's 1989 self title'd debut, The D.O.C.'s 1989 debut No One Can Do It Better, J.J. Fad's 1988 debut Supersonic and funk rock musician Jimmy Z's 1991 album Muzical Madness
1992–96: The Chronic and Death Row Records
from The Chronic
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After a dispute with Eazy-E, Dre left the group at the peak of its popularity in 1991 under the advice of friend, and N.W.A lyricist, The D.O.C. and his bodyguard at the time, Suge Knight. Knight, a notorious strongman and intimidator, was able to have Eazy-E release Young from his contract and, using Dr. Dre as his flagship artist, founded Death Row Records. In 1992 Young released his first single, the title track to the film Deep Cover, a collaboration with rapper Snoop Dogg, whom he met through Warren G. Dr. Dre's debut solo album was The Chronic, released under Death Row Records with Suge Knight as executive producer. Young ushered in a new style of rap, both in terms of musical style and lyrical content, including introducing a number of artists to the industry including Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Daz Dillinger, RBX, The Lady of Rage, Nate Dogg and Jewell.
On the strength of singles such as "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang", "Let Me Ride", and "Fuck wit Dre Day (and Everybody's Celebratin')" (known as "Dre Day" for radio and television play), all of which featured Snoop Dogg as guest vocalist, The Chronic became a cultural phenomenon, its G-funk sound dominating much of hip hop music for the early 1990s. In 1993 the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album triple platinum, and Dr. Dre also won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for his performance on "Let Me Ride". For that year, Billboard magazine also ranked Dr. Dre as the eighth best-selling musical artist, The Chronic as the sixth best-selling album, and "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" as the 11th best-selling single.
Besides working on his own material, Dr. Dre produced Snoop Dogg's debut album Doggystyle, which became the first debut album for an artist to enter the Billboard 200 album charts at number one. In 1994 Dr. Dre produced some songs on the soundtracks to the films Above the Rim and Murder Was the Case. He collaborated with fellow N.W.A member Ice Cube for the song "Natural Born Killaz" in 1995. For the film Friday, Dre recorded "Keep Their Heads Ringin'", which reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Hot Rap Singles (now Hot Rap Tracks) charts.
In 1995, Death Row Records signed rapper 2Pac, and began to position him as their major star: he collaborated with Dr. Dre on the commercially successful single "California Love", which became both artists' first song to top the Billboard Hot 100. However, in March 1996 Young left the label amidst a contract dispute and growing concerns that label boss Suge Knight was corrupt, financially dishonest and out of control. Later that year, he formed his own label, Aftermath Entertainment, under the distribution label for Death Row Records, Interscope Records. Subsequently, Death Row Records suffered poor sales by 1997, especially following the death of 2Pac and the racketeering charges brought against Knight.
Dr. Dre also appeared on the single "No Diggity" by R&B group Blackstreet in 1996: it too was a sales success, topping the Hot 100 for four consecutive weeks, and later won the award for Best R&B Vocal by a Duo or Group at the 1997 Grammy Awards. After hearing it for the first time, several of Dr. Dre's former Death Row colleagues, including 2Pac, recorded and attempted to release a song titled "Toss It Up", containing numerous insults aimed at Dr. Dre and using a deliberately similar instrumental to "No Diggity", but were forced to replace the production after Blackstreet issued the label with a cease and desist order stopping them from distributing the song.
1996–98: Move to Aftermath Entertainment
The Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath album, released on November 26, 1996, featured songs by Dr. Dre himself, as well as by newly signed Aftermath Entertainment artists, and a solo track "Been There, Done That", intended as a symbolic farewell to gangsta rap. Despite being classified platinum by the RIAA, the album was not very popular among music fans. In October 1996, Dre performed "Been There, Done That" on Saturday Night Live. In 1997, Dr. Dre produced several tracks on The Firm's The Album; it was met with largely negative reviews from critics. Rumors began to abound that Aftermath was facing financial difficulties. Aftermath Entertainment also faced a trademark infringement lawsuit by the underground thrash metal band Aftermath. First Round Knock Out, a compilation of various tracks produced and performed by Dr. Dre was also released in 1996, with material ranging from World Class Wreckin' Cru to N.W.A to Death Row recordings. Dr. Dre chose to take no part in the ongoing East Coast–West Coast hip hop rivalry of the time, instead producing for, and appearing on, several New York artists' releases, such as Nas' "Nas Is Coming", LL Cool J's "Zoom" and Jay-Z's "Watch Me".
The turning point for Aftermath came in 1998, when Jimmy Iovine, the head of Aftermath's parent label Interscope, suggested that Dr. Dre sign Eminem, a white rapper from Detroit. Dre produced three songs and provided vocals for two on Eminem's successful and controversial debut album The Slim Shady LP, released in 1999. The Dr. Dre-produced lead single from that album, "My Name Is", brought Eminem to public attention for the first time, and the success of The Slim Shady LP – it reached number two on the Billboard 200 and received general acclaim from critics – revived the label's commercial ambitions and viability.
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Dr. Dre's second solo album, 2001, released on November 16, 1999, was considered an ostentatious return to his gangsta rap roots. It was initially titled The Chronic 2000 to imply being a sequel to his debut solo effort The Chronic but was re-titled 2001 after Death Row Records released an unrelated compilation album with the title Chronic 2000: Still Smokin in May 1999. Other tentative titles included The Chronic 2001 and Dr. Dre. The album featured numerous collaborators, including Devin the Dude, Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Xzibit, Nate Dogg, Eminem, Knoc-turn'al, King T, Defari, Kokane, Mary J. Blige and new protégé Hittman, as well as co-production between Dre and new Aftermath producer Mel-Man. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of the website AllMusic described the sound of the album as "adding ominous strings, soulful vocals, and reggae" to Dr. Dre's style. The album was highly successful, charting at number two on the Billboard 200 charts and has since been certified six times platinum, validating a recurring theme on the album: Dr. Dre was still a force to be reckoned with, despite the lack of major releases in the previous few years. The album included popular hit singles "Still D.R.E." and "Forgot About Dre", both of which Dr. Dre performed on NBC's Saturday Night Live on October 23, 1999. Dr. Dre won the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, Non-Classical in 2000, and joined the Up in Smoke Tour with fellow rappers Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube that year as well.
During the course of 2001's popularity, Dr. Dre was involved in several lawsuits. Lucasfilm Ltd., the film company behind the Star Wars film franchise, sued him over the use of the THX-trademarked "Deep Note". The Fatback Band also sued Dr. Dre over alleged infringement regarding its song "Backstrokin'" in his song "Let's Get High" from the 2001 album; Dr. Dre was ordered to pay $1.5 million to the band in 2003. The online music file-sharing company Napster also settled a lawsuit with him and heavy metal rock band Metallica in the summer of 2001, agreeing to block access to certain files that artists do not want to have shared on the network.
2001–07: Focus on production and Detox
Following the success of 2001, Dr. Dre focused on producing songs and albums for other artists. He co-produced six tracks on Eminem’s landmark Marshall Mathers LP, including the Grammy-winning lead single, “The Real Slim Shady”. The album itself earned a Grammy and proved to be the fastest-selling rap album of all time, moving 1.76 million units in its first week alone. He produced the single "Family Affair" by R&B singer Mary J. Blige for her album No More Drama in 2001. He also produced "Let Me Blow Ya Mind", a duet by rapper Eve and No Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani and signed R&B singer Truth Hurts to Aftermath in 2001. Dr. Dre was the executive producer of Eminem’s 2002 release, The Eminem Show. He produced three songs on the album, one of which was released as a single, and he appeared in the award-winning video for “Without Me”. He also produced The D.O.C.'s 2003 album Deuce, where he made a guest appearance on the tracks "Psychic Pymp Hotline", "Gorilla Pympin'" and "Judgment Day".
Another copyright-related lawsuit hit Dr. Dre in the fall of 2002, when Sa Re Ga Ma, a film and music company based in Calcutta, India, sued Aftermath Entertainment over an uncredited sample of the Lata Mangeshkar song "Thoda Resham Lagta Hai" on the Aftermath-produced song "Addictive" by singer Truth Hurts. In February 2003, a judge ruled that Aftermath would have to halt sales of Truth Hurts' album Truthfully Speaking if the company would not credit Mangeshkar.
Another successful album on the Aftermath label was Get Rich or Die Tryin', the 2003 major-label debut album by Queens, New York-based rapper 50 Cent. Dr. Dre produced or co-produced four tracks on the album, including the hit single "In da Club", a joint production between Aftermath, Eminem's boutique label Shady Records and Interscope. Eminem's fourth album since joining Aftermath, Encore, again saw Dre taking on the role of executive producer, and this time he was more actively involved in the music, producing or co-producing a total of eight tracks, including three singles. In November 2004, at the Vibe magazine awards show in Los Angeles, Dr. Dre was attacked by a fan named Jimmy James Johnson, who was supposedly asking for an autograph. In the resulting scuffle, then-G-Unit rapper Young Buck stabbed the man. Johnson claimed that Suge Knight, president of Death Row Records, paid him $5,000 to assault Dre in order to humiliate him before he received his Lifetime Achievement Award. Knight immediately went on CBS's The Late Late Show to deny involvement and insisted that he supported Dr. Dre and wanted Johnson charged. In September 2005, Johnson was sentenced to a year in prison and ordered to stay away from Dr. Dre until 2008.
Dr. Dre also produced "How We Do", a 2005 hit single from rapper The Game from his album The Documentary, as well as 50 Cent's successful sophomore album The Massacre. For an issue of Rolling Stone magazine in April 2005, Dr. Dre was ranked 54th out of 100 artists for Rolling Stone magazine's list "The Immortals: The Greatest Artists of All Time". Kanye West wrote the summary for Dr. Dre, where he stated Dr. Dre's song "Xplosive" as where he "got (his) whole sound from".
In November 2006, Dr. Dre began working with Raekwon on his album Only Built 4 Cuban Linx II. He also produced tracks for the rap albums Buck the World by Young Buck, Curtis by 50 Cent, Tha Blue Carpet Treatment by Snoop Dogg, and Kingdom Come by Jay-Z. Dre also appeared on Timbaland's track "Bounce", from his 2007 solo album, Timbaland Presents Shock Value alongside, Missy Elliott, and Justin Timberlake. During this period, The D.O.C. stated that Dre had been working with him on his fourth album Voices through Hot Vessels, which he planned to release after Detox arrives.
Planned but unreleased albums during Dr. Dre's tenure at Aftermath have included a full-length reunion with Snoop Dogg titled Breakup to Makeup, an album with fellow former N.W.A member Ice Cube which was to be titled Heltah Skeltah, an N.W.A reunion album, and a joint album with fellow producer Timbaland titled Chairmen of the Board.
In 2007, Dr. Dre's third studio album, formerly known as Detox, was slated to be his final studio album. Work for the upcoming album dates back to 2001, where its first version was called "the most advanced rap album ever", by producer Scott Storch. Later that same year, he decided to stop working on the album to focus on producing for other artists, but then changed his mind; the album had initially been set for a fall 2005 release. Producers confirmed to work on the album include DJ Khalil, Nottz, Bernard "Focus" Edwards Jr., Hi-Tek, J.R. Rotem, RZA, Jay-Z, Warren G, and Boi-1da. Snoop Dogg claimed that Detox was finished, according to a June 2008 report by Rolling Stone magazine. After another delay based on producing other artists' work, Detox was then scheduled for a 2010 release, coming after 50 Cent's Before I Self Destruct and Eminem's Relapse, an album for which Dr. Dre handled the bulk of production duties. In a Dr Pepper commercial that debuted on May 28, 2009, he premiered the first official snippet of Detox. 50 Cent and Eminem asserted in an interview on BET's 106 & Park that Dr. Dre had around a dozen songs finished for Detox.
2008–14: The Planets, a break and Coachella
On December 15, 2008, Dre appeared in the remix of the song "Set It Off" by Canadian rapper Kardinal Offishall (also with Pusha T); the remix debuted on DJ Skee's radio show. At the beginning of 2009, Dre produced, and made a guest vocal performance on, the single "Crack a Bottle" by Eminem and the single sold a record 418,000 downloads in its first week. and reached the top of the Billboard Hot 100 chart on the week of February 12, 2009. Along with this single, in 2009 Dr. Dre produced or co-produced 19 of 20 tracks on Eminem's album Relapse. These included other hit singles "We Made You", "Old Time's Sake", and "3 a.m." (the only track Dre did not produce was the Eminem-produced single "Beautiful").
On April 20, 2010, "Under Pressure", featuring Jay-Z and co-produced with Scott Storch, was confirmed by Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre during an interview at Fenway Park as the album's first single. The song leaked prior to its intended release in an unmixed, unmastered form without a chorus on June 16, 2010: however, critical reaction to the song was lukewarm, and Dr. Dre later announced in an interview that the song, along with any other previously leaked tracks from Detox's recording process, would not appear on the final version of the album. Two genuine singles – "Kush", a collaboration with Snoop Dogg and fellow rapper Akon, and "I Need a Doctor" with Eminem and singer Skylar Grey – were released in the United States during November 2010 and February 2011 respectively: the latter achieved international chart success, reaching number four on the Billboard Hot 100 and later being certified double platinum by the RIAA and the Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA).
On June 25, 2010, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers honored Dr. Dre with its Founders Award for inspiring other musicians.
In an August 2010 interview, Dr. Dre stated that an instrumental album titled The Planets is in its first stages of production; each song being named after a planet in the Solar System. On September 3, Dr. Dre showed support to longtime protégé Eminem, and appeared on his and Jay-Z's Home & Home Tour, performing hit songs such as "Still D.R.E.", "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang", and "Crack a Bottle", alongside Eminem and another protégé, 50 Cent. Sporting an "R.I.P. Proof" shirt, Dre was honored by Eminem telling Detroit's Comerica Park to do the same. They did so, by chanting "DEEE-TOX", to which he replied, "I'm coming!"
On November 14, 2011, Dre announced that he would be taking a break from music after he finished producing for artists Slim the Mobster and Kendrick Lamar. In this break, he stated that he would "work on bringing his Beats By Dre to a standard as high as Apple" and would also spend time with his family.
In a June 2014 interview with RapUpTV, Marsha Ambrosius talked about working on Dr. Dre’s third album. She stated that she had gone to Hawaii before the end of 2013 for a few weeks to work with him on “so many things” including his upcoming album and a project of her own among other unspecified projects. Ambrosius also told RapUpTV that Dr. Dre’s third album is no longer called Detox, but didn’t reveal the new title. In a September interview with Shots Fired that same year, Aftermath Entertainment in-house producer Dawaun Parker confirmed the title change. Parker also refrained from revealing the new title because of the fact that the title hadn’t been leaked online. He also told Shots Fired that there are as many as 300 beats that have been created for the album over the years, but few of them have had vocals recorded over them.
The length of time that Detox had been record for, as well as the limited amount of material that had been officially released or leaked from the recording sessions, had given it considerable notoriety within the music industry. Numerous release dates (including the ones mentioned above) had been given for the album over the years since it was first announced, although none of them transpired to be genuine. Several musicians closely affiliated with Dr. Dre, including Snoop Dogg, fellow rappers 50 Cent and Game and producer DJ Quik, had speculated in interviews that the album will never be released, due to Dr. Dre's business and entrepreneurial ventures having interfered with recording work, as well as causing him to lose motivation to record new material.
2015–present: Straight Outta Compton film and Compton album
On his Beats 1 radio show "The Pharmacy" on August 1, 2015, Dre announced that he would release what would be his final album, titled Compton. It is inspired by the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton and is a compilation-style album, featuring a number of frequent collaborators, including Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Xzibit and The Game, among others. It was released exclusively for iTunes and Apple Music on August 7. A physical version was published on August 21. In an interview with Rolling Stone, he revealed that he had about 20 to 40 tracks for Detox but he didn't release it because it didn't meet his standards and he thought he was done being an artist. He also revealed that he suffers from social anxiety and due to this he remains secluded and out of attention.
On February 12, 2016 it was revealed that Apple would create its first original scripted television series and it will star Dr. Dre. Called "Vital Signs", it is set to reflect the life of Dr. Dre. Dr. Dre will additionally be an executive producer on the show.
Dr. Dre made his first on screen appearance as a weapons dealer in the 1996 bank robbery movie Set It Off. In 2001, Dr. Dre also appeared in the movies The Wash and Training Day. A song of his, "Bad Intentions" (featuring Knoc-Turn'Al) and produced by Mahogany, was featured on The Wash soundtrack. Dr. Dre also appeared on two other songs "On the Blvd." and "The Wash" along with his co-star Snoop Dogg. In February 2007 it was announced that Dr. Dre would produce dark comedies and horror films for New Line Cinema-owned company Crucial Films, along with longtime video director Phillip Atwell. Dr. Dre announced "This is a natural switch for me, since I've directed a lot of music videos, and I eventually want to get into directing." Along with fellow member Ice Cube, Dr. Dre produced Straight Outta Compton (2015), a biographical film about N.W.A.
In July 2008, Dr. Dre released his first brand of headphones, Beats by Dr. Dre. The line consisted of Beats Studio, a circumaural headphone; Beats Tour, an in-ear headphone; Beats Solo & Solo HD, a supra-aural headphone; Beats Spin; Heartbeats by Lady Gaga, also an in-ear headphone; and Diddy Beats. In autumn 2009, Hewlett-Packard participated in a deal to bundle Beats By Dr. Dre with some HP laptops and headsets. HP and Dr. Dre announced the deal on October 9, 2009, at a press event in Santa Monica, California. An exclusive laptop, known as the HP ENVY 15 Beats limited edition, was released for sale October 22. In May 2014, technology giant Apple Inc. made a bid for the Beats by Dre brand for a reported $3 billion. This makes the takeover Apple's most expensive purchase by far. The deal reportedly made Dr. Dre the "Richest Man in Hip-Hop", surpassing former leader, Diddy.
During the May of 2013, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine donated a $70 million endowment to the University of Southern California to create the USC Jimmy Iovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation. The goal of the Academy has been stated as "to shape the future by nurturing the talents, passions, leadership and risk-taking of uniquely qualified students who are motivated to explore and create new art forms, technologies, and business models." The first class of the Academy began in September 2014.
Dr. Dre started Burning Man rumors
In 2011, a tumblr blog titled Dr. Dre Started Burning Man began proliferating the notion that the producer, rapper and entrepreneur had discovered Burning Man in 1995 during a music video shoot and offered to cover the cost of the event's permit from the Nevada Bureau of Land Management under an agreement with the festival's organizers that he could institute an entrance fee system, which had not existed before his participation. This claim was supported by an alleged letter from Dre to Nicole Threatt Young that indicated that Dre had shared his experience witnessing the Burning Man festival with her.
Business Insider mentions the portion of the letter where Dr. Dre purportedly states "someone should get behind this...and make some money off these fools" and compares Dr. Dre's potential entrepreneurial engagement with Burning Man as a parallel to Steve Jobs' efforts to centralize and profit from the otherwise unorganized online music industry. According to Salon, Dr. Dre's ethos seems to be aligned with seven of the ten principles of the Burning Man community: "radical self-reliance, radical self-expression, communal effort, civic responsibility, leaving no trace, participation and immediacy."
Musical influences and style
|“||The space, about the size of a college dorm room, is splattered with papers, ideas scribbled down in black ink. Nuthin' but G thangs waiting to happen. Those that don't happen end up in a round, purple L.A. Lakers trash can. A kitchen, red and stainless steel like a '50s diner, adjoins the control room...||”|
|— Corey Moss of MTV News, in a 2002 profile of Dr. Dre with a visit to his studio|
Dr. Dre is renowned for constantly evolving his production style through the years, while always keeping in touch with his roots and re-shaping elements from previous work. In the start of his career as a producer for the World Class Wreckin Cru in the mid-1980s, his beats were in the electro-hop style pioneered by The Unknown DJ, and that of early hip-hop groups like the Beastie Boys and Whodini. These influences are evident in Eazy E's 1986 song Boyz-n-the-Hood, which Dre produced. Sampling was at the time a key element of Dre's production, the E-mu SP-1200 being his primary instrument in the N.W.A days.
In 1987, Dr. Dre sampled the Ohio Players' ARP synth riffs from their 1973 funk hit "Funky Worm" in the N.W.A song "Dopeman". Being the first hip-hop producer to sample the song, Dre both paved the way for the future popularization of the G-funk style within hip-hop, and established heavy synthesizer solos as an integral part of his production style. Dr. Dre was also one of the very first producers to interpolate the then little-known drum break from The Winstons' "Amen, Brother" in the N.W.A song "Straight Outta Compton". This break has since becοme a staple in not only hip-hop, but all popular music, having been used in over 1700 songs.
From Straight Outta Compton on, Dre uses live musicians to replay old melodies rather than sampling them. In Ruthless Records, collaborators included guitarist Mike "Crazy Neck" Sims, multi-instrumentalist Colin Wolfe, DJ Yella and sound engineer Donovan "The Dirt Biker" Sound. Dre is receptive of new ideas from other producers, one example being his fruitful collaboration with Above the Law's producer Cold 187um while at Ruthless. Cold 187 um was at the time experimenting with 1970s P-Funk samples (Parliament, Funkadelic, Bootsy Collins, George Clinton etc.), that Dre also utilized. Dre has since been accused of "stealing" the concept of G-funk from Cold 187 um.
Upon leaving Ruthless and forming Death Row Records in 1991, Dre called on veteran West Coast DJ Chris "The Glove" Taylor and sound engineer Greg "Gregski" Royal, along with Colin Wolfe, to help him on future projects. His 1992 album The Chronic is thought to be one of the most well-produced hip-hop albums of all time. Musical themes included hard-hitting synthesizer solos played by Wolfe, bass-heavy compositions, background female vocals and Dre fully embracing 1970s funk samples. Dre used a minimoog synth to replay the melody from Leon Haywood's 1972 song "I Wanna Do Somethin' Freaky to You" for the Chronic's first single "Nuthin' but a "G" Thang" which became a global hit. For his new protégé Snoop Doggy Dogg's album Doggystyle, Dre collaborated with then 19-year-old producer Daz Dillinger, who received co-production credits on songs "Serial Killa" and "For all My Niggaz & Bitches", as well as Warren G and Sam Sneed, who are credited with bringing several samples to the studio.
The influence of The Chronic and Doggystyle on the popular music of the 1990s went not only far beyond the West Coast, but beyond hip-hop as a genre. Artists as diverse as Master P ("Bout It, Bout It"), George Michael ("Fastlove"), Luis Miguel ("Dame"), and The Spice Girls ("Say You'll Be There"), used G-funk instrumentation in their songs. Bad Boy Records producer Chucky Thompson stated in the April 2004 issue of XXL magazine that the sound of Doggystyle and the Chronic was the basis for the Notorious B.I.G.'s 1995 hit single "Big Poppa":
|“||At that time, we were listening to Snoop’s album. We knew what was going on in the West through Dr. Dre. Big just knew the culture, he knew what was going on with hip-hop. It was more than just New York, it was all over."||”|
In 1994, starting with the Murder was the Case soundtrack, Dre attempted to push the boundaries of G-funk further into a darker sound. In songs such as "Murder was the Case" and "Natural Born Killaz", the synthesizer pitch is higher and the drum tempo is slowed down to 91 BPM (87 BPM in the remix) to create a dark and gritty atmosphere. Percussion instruments, particularly sleigh bells, are also present. Dre's frequent collaborators from this period included Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania natives Stuart "Stu-B-Doo" Bullard, a multi-instrumentalist from the Ozanam Strings Orchestra, Sam Sneed, Stephen "Bud'da" Anderson, and percussionist Carl "Butch" Small. This style of production has been influential far beyond the West Coast. The beat for the Houston-based group Geto Boys 1996 song "Still" follows the same drum pattern as "Natural Born Killaz" and Eazy E's "Wut Would U Do" (a diss to Dre) is similar to the original "Murder was the Case" instrumental. This style of production is usually accompanied by horror and occult-themed lyrics and imagery, being crucial to the creation of horrorcore.
By 1996, Dre was again looking to innovate his sound. He recruited keyboardist Camara Kambon to play the keys on "Been There, Done That", and through Bud'da and Sam Sneed he was introduced to fellow Pittsburgh native Melvin "Mel-Man" Bradford. At this time, he also switched from using the E-mu SP-1200 to the Akai MPC3000 drum kit and sampler, which he still uses today. Beginning with his 1996 compilation Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath, Dre's production has taken a less sample-based approach, with loud, layered snare drums dominating the mix, while synthesizers are still omnipresent. In his critically acclaimed sophomore effort, 2001, live instrumentation takes the place of sampling, a famous example being "The Next Episode", in which keyboardist Camara Kambon re-played live the main melody from David McCallum's 1967 jazz-funk work "The Edge". For every song on 2001, Dre had a keyboardist, guitarist and bassist create the basic parts of the beat, while he himself programmed the drums, did the sequencing and overdubbing and added sound effects, and later mixed the songs. During this period, Dre's signature "west coast whistle" riffs are still present albeit in a lower pitch, as in "Light Speed", "Housewife", "Some L.A. Niggaz" and Eminem's "Guilty Conscience" hook. The sound of "2001" had tremendous influence on hip-hop production, redefining the West Coast's sound and expanding the G-funk of the early 1990s. To produce the album, Dre and Mel-Man relied on the talents of Scott Storch and Camara Kambon on the keys, Mike Elizondo and Colin Wolfe on bass guitar, Sean Cruse on lead guitar and sound engineers Richard "Segal" Huredia and Mauricio "Veto" Iragorri.
From the mid-2000s, Dr. Dre has taken on a more soulful production style, using more of a classical piano instead of a keyboard, and having claps replace snares, as evidenced in songs such as Snoop Dogg's "Imagine" and "Boss' Life", Busta Rhymes' "Get You Some" and "Been Through the Storm", Stat Quo's "Get Low" and "The Way It Be", Jay Z's "Lost One", Nas' "Hustlers", and several beats on Eminem's Relapse album. Soul and R&B pianist Mark Batson, having previously worked with The Dave Matthews Band, Seal and Maroon 5 has been credited as the architect of this sound. Besides Batson, Aftermath producer and understudy of Dre's, Dawaun Parker, who has named Q-Tip and J Dilla as his primary influences, is thought to be responsible for giving Dre's newest beats an East Coast feel. 
Dr. Dre has said that his primary instrument in the studio is the Akai MPC3000, a drum machine and sampler, and that he often uses as many as four or five to produce a single recording. He cites 1970s funk musicians such as George Clinton, Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield as his primary musical influences. Unlike most rap producers, he tries to avoid samples as much as possible, preferring to have studio musicians re-play pieces of music he wants to use, because it allows him more flexibility to change the pieces in rhythm and tempo. In 2001 he told Time magazine, "I may hear something I like on an old record that may inspire me, but I'd rather use musicians to re-create the sound or elaborate on it. I can control it better." Other equipment he uses include the E-mu SP-1200 drum machine and other keyboards from such manufacturers as Korg, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, Moog, and Roland.:234 Dr. Dre also stresses the importance of equalizing drums properly, telling Scratch magazine in 2004 that he "used the same drum sounds on a couple of different songs on one album before but you'd never be able to tell the difference because of the EQ." Dr. Dre also uses the digital audio workstation, Pro Tools and uses the software to combine hardware drum machines and vintage analog keyboards and synthesizers.
After founding Aftermath Entertainment in 1996, Dr. Dre took on producer Mel-Man as a co-producer, and his music took on a more synthesizer-based sound, using fewer vocal samples (as he had used on "Lil' Ghetto Boy" and "Let Me Ride" on The Chronic, for example). Mel-Man has not shared co-production credits with Dr. Dre since approximately 2002, but fellow Aftermath producer Focus has credited Mel-Man as a key architect of the signature Aftermath sound.
In 1999, Dr. Dre started working with Mike Elizondo, a bassist, guitarist, and keyboardist who has also produced, written and played on records for female singers such as Poe, Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette, In the past few years Elizondo has since worked for many of Dr. Dre's productions. Dr. Dre also told Scratch magazine in a 2004 interview that he has been studying piano and music theory formally, and that a major goal is to accumulate enough musical theory to score movies. In the same interview he stated that he has collaborated with famed 1960s songwriter Burt Bacharach by sending him hip hop beats to play over, and hopes to have an in-person collaboration with him in the future.
Dr. Dre has stated that he is a perfectionist and is known to pressure the artists with whom he records to give flawless performances. In 2006, Snoop Dogg told the website Dubcnn.com that Dr. Dre had made new artist Bishop Lamont re-record a single bar of vocals 107 times. Dr. Dre has also stated that Eminem is a fellow perfectionist, and attributes his success on Aftermath to his similar work ethic. He gives a lot of input into the delivery of the vocals and will stop an MC during a take if it is not to his liking.:285–286 However, he gives MCs that he works with room to write lyrics without too much instruction unless it is a specifically conceptual record, as noted by Bishop Lamont in the book How to Rap.:234–235
A consequence of his perfectionism is that some artists who initially sign deals with Dr. Dre's Aftermath label never release albums. In 2001, Aftermath released the soundtrack to the movie The Wash, featuring a number of Aftermath acts such as Shaunta, Daks, Joe Beast and Toi. To date, none have released full-length albums on Aftermath and have apparently ended their relationships with the label and Dr. Dre. Other noteworthy acts to leave Aftermath without releasing albums include King Tee, 2001 vocalist Hittman, Joell Ortiz, Raekwon and Rakim.
Collaborators and co-producers
Over the years, word of other collaborators who have contributed to Dr. Dre's work has surfaced. During his tenure at Death Row Records, it was alleged that Dr. Dre's stepbrother Warren G and Tha Dogg Pound member Daz made many uncredited contributions to songs on his solo album The Chronic and Snoop Doggy Dogg's album Doggystyle (Daz received production credits on Snoop's similar-sounding, albeit less successful album Tha Doggfather after Young left Death Row Records).
It is known that Scott Storch, who has since gone on to become a successful producer in his own right, contributed to Dr. Dre's second album 2001; Storch is credited as a songwriter on several songs and played keyboards on several tracks. In 2006 he told Rolling Stone:
|“||"At the time, I saw Dr. Dre desperately needed something," Storch says. "He needed a fuel injection, and Dr. Dre utilized me as the nitrous oxide. He threw me into the mix, and I sort of tapped on a new flavor with my whole piano sound and the strings and orchestration. So I'd be on the keyboards, and Mike [Elizondo] was on the bass guitar, and Dr. Dre was on the drum machine."||”|
Current collaborator Mike Elizondo, when speaking about his work with Young, describes their recording process as a collaborative effort involving several musicians. In 2004 he claimed to Songwriter Universe magazine that he had written the foundations of the hit Eminem song "The Real Slim Shady", stating, "I initially played a bass line on the song, and Dr. Dre, Tommy Coster Jr. and I built the track from there. Eminem then heard the track, and he wrote the rap to it." This account is essentially confirmed by Eminem in his book Angry Blonde, stating that the tune for the song was composed by a studio bassist and keyboardist while Dr. Dre was out of the studio but Young later programmed the song's beat after returning.
A group of disgruntled former associates of Dr. Dre complained that they had not received their full due for work on the label in the September 2003 issue of The Source. A producer named Neff-U claimed to have produced the songs "Say What You Say" and "My Dad's Gone Crazy" on The Eminem Show, the songs "If I Can't" and "Back Down" on 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin', and the beat featured on Dr. Dre's commercial for Coors beer.
Although Young studies piano and musical theory, he serves as more of a conductor than a musician himself, as Josh Tyrangiel of TIME magazine has noted:
|“||Every Dre track begins the same way, with Dre behind a drum machine in a room full of trusted musicians. (They carry beepers. When he wants to work, they work.) He'll program a beat, then ask the musicians to play along; when Dre hears something he likes, he isolates the player and tells him how to refine the sound. "My greatest talent," Dre says, "is knowing exactly what I want to hear."||”|
Although Snoop Dogg retains working relationships with Warren G and Daz, who are alleged to be uncredited contributors on the hit albums The Chronic and Doggystyle, he states that Dr. Dre is capable of making beats without the help of collaborators, and that he is responsible for the success of his numerous albums. Dr. Dre's prominent studio collaborators, including Scott Storch, Elizondo, Mark Batson and Dawaun Parker, have shared co-writing, instrumental, and more recently co-production credits on the songs where he is credited as the producer.
It is acknowledged that most of Dr. Dre's raps are written for him by others, though he retains ultimate control over his lyrics and the themes of his songs.:229 As Aftermath producer Mahogany told Scratch: "It's like a class room in [the booth]. He'll have three writers in there. They'll bring in something, he'll recite it, then he'll say. 'Change this line, change this word,' like he's grading papers." As seen in the credits for tracks Young has appeared on, there are often multiple people who contribute to his songs (although often in hip hop many people are officially credited as a writer for a song, even the producer).
In the book How to Rap, RBX explains that writing The Chronic was a "team effort":MC and details how he ghostwrote "Let Me Ride" for Dre.:MC In regard to ghostwriting lyrics he says, "Dre doesn't profess to be no super-duper rap dude – Dre is a super-duper producer".:MC As a member of N.W.A, The D.O.C. wrote lyrics for him while he stuck with producing. New York City rapper Jay-Z ghostwrote lyrics for the single "Still D.R.E." from Dr. Dre's album 2001.
Relationships and family
Dr. Dre has four sons and a daughter:
- In 1981, Dr. Dre and Cassandra Joy Greene had a son named Curtis Young when Dr. Dre was 16 years old and Greene was 15 years old. Curtis Young is an aspiring rapper who goes by the rap moniker "Hood Surgeon".:19
- In 1988, Dr. Dre and Jenita Porter had a son, Andre Young Jr. In 1990, Porter sued Dr. Dre in Orange County Superior Court seeking $5,000 of child support per month. On August 23, 2008, Andre Young Jr. died at the age of 20 at his mother's Woodland Hills home. The coroner determined that he died from an overdose of heroin and morphine.
- From 1990 to 1996, Dr. Dre dated singer Michel'le, who frequently contributed vocals to Ruthless Records and Death Row Records albums. In 1991, the couple had a son, Marcel.:53
- In 1996, Dr. Dre married Nicole Threatt, the ex-wife of NBA player Sedale Threatt.:145 They have two children together: a son named Truice (born 1997) and a daughter named Truly (born 2001).:156,204
Violence against women
On January 27, 1991, at a music industry party at the Po Na Na Souk club in Hollywood, Dr. Dre assaulted television host Dee Barnes of the Fox television program Pump it Up, because he felt dissatisfied with her news report about the feud between the remaining N.W.A members and Ice Cube. Barnes filed a 22.7 million dollar lawsuit in response to the incident. Subsequently, Dr. Dre was fined $2,500 and given two years' probation and 240 hours of community service, as well as a spot on an anti-violence public service announcement on television.:27 The civil suit was settled out of court. Barnes stated that Young "began slamming her face and the right side of her body repeatedly against a wall near the stairway." Dr. Dre later commented "People talk all this shit, but you know, somebody fucks with me, I'm gonna fuck with them. I just did it, you know. Ain't nothing you can do now by talking about it. Besides, it ain't no big thing – I just threw her through a door."
In March 2015, singer Michel'le accused him of physical abuse during their time together as a couple, but did not initiate legal action. Former labelmate Tairrie B also claimed that Dre assaulted her at a post-Grammy party in 1990, in response to her track Ruthless Bitch.
During press for the popular 2015 film Straight Outta Compton, questions about the portrayal and behavior of Dr. Dre and other prominent figures in the rap community about violence against women - and the question about its absence in the film - were raised. The discussion about the film led to Dr. Dre addressing his past behavior in the press. In August 2015, in an interview with Rolling Stone, Dre lamented his abusive past, saying, "I made some fucking horrible mistakes in my life. I was young, fucking stupid. I would say all the allegations aren't true—some of them are. Those are some of the things that I would like to take back. It was really fucked up. But I paid for those mistakes, and there's no way in hell that I will ever make another mistake like that again."
In a statement to The New York Times on August 21, 2015, Dre addressed his abusive past saying, "Twenty-five years ago I was a young man drinking too much and in over my head with no real structure in my life. However, none of this is an excuse for what I did. I've been married for 19 years and every day I'm working to be a better man for my family, seeking guidance along the way. I'm doing everything I can so I never resemble that man again." He went on to apologise to all the women he abused, saying, "I apologize to the women I've hurt. I deeply regret what I did and know that it has forever impacted all of our lives."
Dr. Dre pleaded guilty in October 1992 in a case of battery of a police officer and was convicted on two additional battery counts stemming from a brawl in the lobby of the New Orleans hotel in May 1991.
On January 10, 1994, Dr. Dre was arrested after leading police on a 90 mph pursuit through Beverly Hills in his 1987 Ferrari. It was revealed Dr. Dre had a blood-alcohol of 0.16, twice the state's legal limit. The conviction violated Dre's battery conviction in 1991 and he was sentenced to 8 months in prison in September 1994.
In 2001, Dr. Dre earned a total of about US$52 million from selling part of his share of Aftermath Entertainment to Interscope Records and his production of such hit songs that year as "Family Affair" by Mary J. Blige. Rolling Stone magazine thus named him the second highest-paid artist of the year. Dr. Dre was ranked 44th in 2004 from earnings of $11.4 million, primarily from production royalties from such projects as albums from G-Unit and D12 and the single "Rich Girl" by singer Gwen Stefani and rapper Eve. Forbes estimated his net worth at US$270 million in 2012. The same publication later reported that he acquired US$110 million via his various endeavors in 2012, making him the highest–paid artist of the year.
Income from the 2014 sale of Beats to Apple, contributing to what Forbes termed "the biggest single-year payday of any musician in history", made Dr. Dre the world's richest musical performer of 2015.
Suge Knight Conspiracy Accusation
- Studio albums
- Soundtrack album
- The Wash (2001)
- Collaboration albums
- World Class (as part of World Class Wreckin' Cru) (1985)
- Rapped in Romance (as part of World Class Wreckin' Cru) (1986)
- N.W.A. and the Posse (as part of N.W.A) (1987)
- Straight Outta Compton (as part of N.W.A) (1988)
- 100 Miles and Runnin' (as part of N.W.A) (1990)
- Niggaz4Life (as part of N.W.A) (1991)
Awards and nominations
|1994||"Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" (with Snoop Doggy Dogg)||Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|"Let Me Ride"||Best Rap Solo Performance||Won|
|1996||"Keep Their Heads Ringin'"||Nominated|
|1997||"California Love" (with 2Pac & Roger Troutman)||Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|1998||"No Diggity" (with Blackstreet & Queen Pen)||Best R&B Song||Nominated|
|2000||"Still D.R.E." (with Snoop Dogg)||Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|"Guilty Conscience" (with Eminem)||Nominated|
|2001||"Forgot About Dre" (with Eminem)||Won|
|"The Next Episode" (with Snoop Dogg, Kurupt & Nate Dogg)||Nominated|
|The Marshall Mathers LP (as engineer)||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|Best Rap Album||Won|
|Himself||Producer of the Year, Non-Classical||Won|
|"Knoc" (with Knoc-turn'al & Missy Elliott)||Best Music Video, Short Form||Nominated|
|2004||"In da Club" (as songwriter)||Best Rap Song||Nominated|
|2006||Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (as producer)||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|"Encore" (with Eminem & 50 Cent)||Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group||Nominated|
|2010||"Crack a Bottle" (with Eminem & 50 Cent)||Won|
|Relapse (as engineer)||Best Rap Album||Won|
|2011||Recovery (as producer)||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|2012||"I Need a Doctor" (with Eminem & Skylar Grey)||Best Rap/Sung Collaboration||Nominated|
|Best Rap Song||Nominated|
|2014||good kid, m.A.A.d city (as featured artist)||Album of the Year||Nominated|
|2016||Compton||Best Rap Album||Nominated|
|1993||"Nuthin' But a "G" Thang"||Best Rap Video||Nominated|
|1994||"Let Me Ride"||Nominated|
|1995||"Keep Their Heads Ringin'"||Won|
|1997||"Been There, Done That"||Nominated|
|"No Diggity"||Best R&B Video||Nominated|
|1999||"My Name Is"||Best Direction||Nominated|
|"Guilty Conscience"||Best Breakthrough Video||Nominated|
|2000||"The Real Slim Shady"||Best Direction||Nominated|
|2000||"Forgot About Dre"||Best Rap Video||Won|
|2009||"Nuthin' But a "G" Thang"||Best Video (That Should Have Won a Moonman)||Nominated|
|1992||Niggaz4Life: The Only Home Video||Himself||Documentary|
|1996||Set It Off||Black Sam||Minor Role|
|1999||Whiteboyz||Don Flip Crew #1||Minor Role|
|2000||Up In Smoke Tour||Himself||Concert Film|
|2001||Training Day||Paul||Minor Role|
|2001||The Wash||Sean||Main Role|
|2005||50 Cent: Bulletproof||Grizz||Voice role and likeness|
|2015||Straight Outta Compton||Corey Hawkins||Biographical film about N.W.A|
|2016||DPG 4 Life: Tha Movie||Curtis Young||Biographical film about Death Row Records|
|All Eyez on Me||Harold House Moore||Biographical film about Tupac Shakur|