Last week, one of the biggest movies of the year was released. I am speaking of course, about Straight Outta Compton, the biopic that details the rise and fall of rap group N.W.A. The main characters are rappers Eazy-E, Ice Cube, Dr. Dre, DJ Yella and MC Ren. Dr. Dre and Ice Cube were deeply involved with the making of the film.
N.W.A. not only achieved great success throughout the late 1980s and early 90s, but are credited with revolutionizing rap, not only in terms of the actual musical characteristics and sound, but also with regard to themes. The film tells the story of these five young men who started their own record label and became the voice of a generation. Dr. Dre was not the only member of N.W.A. by any means, but he is the most successful, and is listed as the second wealthiest artist in the genre of rap, behind only Diddy. Andre Romelle Young is worth a little over $700 million, and while he still raps, most of his time is spent on entrepreneurial ventures such as his record label Aftermath Entertainment or Beats Electronics.
He has had an incredible career that is still going. Not only has he fostered great success in his own life, he has helped others make it big in music, including Eminem, The Game, 50 Cent and of course Snoop Dogg (among others). He hasn’t had a perfect life by any means, however, here are twelve of the less awesome facts of Dr. Dre’s life.
12. His Middle Name
This isn’t embarrassing at all really. In truth, Dr. Dre might not really care anymore if people know his middle name. When talking about it in past interviews, he has even chuckled about it. His first name “Andre” is where he got “Dre” but his middle name is Romelle. His father Theodore chose the name in honor of his own unsigned musical group “The Romells”. We’re pretty sure we’ve heard middle names way more embarrassing than this one.
11. The Wash
Alright, admittedly, the 2001 movie starring Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg isn’t the worst movie ever made. Furthermore, for stoners who love rap, it is probably a good time. Compared to The Wash though, Dave Chappelle’s Half Baked from a few years prior looks Oscar-worthy.
The film featured Dre and Snoop as two buddies who needed to pay their rent, and worked at a car wash. It was a buddy-crime-comedy but minus the comedy. While he played a decent role in Training Day, The Wash was a pretty brutal flick.
10. He Lost His Two Brothers
This one is just plain unfortunate. He still has a step brother, fellow rapper Warren G, but Dre’s two brothers Tyree and Jerome, are both deceased. Jerome was born shortly after Dre, and died of pneumonia when he was just a toddler. Tyree was killed in the late 1980’s, after a vicious gang-related attack that left him with a broken neck. Some might not know that the song The Message, was actually dedicated to Tyree’s memory.
9. Aftermath: An Underachiever?
Dr. Dre created his record label in November 1999, and it took off well in the start of the new millennium. He and Eminem owned the first couple of years and in 2003, 50 Cent stole the show briefly in 2003, and in 2004 they signed Busta Rhymes, whose career was less than stellar at the time.
In the past ten years however, the label has been producing less and less and enthusiastically signing talent who never go on to release anything. Eve was signed briefly back in 2006 (her second time with the label) but left promptly after they didn’t release her work. 2008, 2009 and 2010 saw nearly nothing worth listening to from the label. Overall, they’ve had trouble releasing quality records by anyone not named Eminem, Dre or 50. With that said…I don’t own a record label, so who am I to comment?
8. He’s Made More Money From Headphones Than Music
Again, hard to determine whether Dre doesn’t want people to know this or whether he is proud of it, he’s made a killing off rap, whether it be his own tunes or producing, but over half of his fortune was made through his business venture Beats. It is estimated that he made a shade over $250 million off music, but it was his sale of Beats to Apple in 2014 that earned him over $500 million. The sale was for about $3 billion, but just over half a billion made it into the rap God’s pocket. Like I said, he may well be proud of this, but it is an interesting fun fact.
7. The Details of His Departure from Death Row Records
Obviously there are two sides to every story. In this story, Tupac Shakur and Suge Knight dissed Dre when he parted ways with the label. They implied that he left in part due to his own poor business sense, and because he was a whiner who spent too much time complaining about his lack of creative control. He left Death Row, and it has been alleged that he did so, leaving behind any royalties he would have received from his work between ’92 and ’96.
With that in mind, Knight and Shakur were imprisoned and killed (respectively) in the year after, and Dre has made several hundred million dollars since.
6. He Dropped Out of High School
While Sean Combs received an honorary doctorate from Howard University last year and can now be referred to as doctor Diddy, Dr. Dre isn’t a doctor. In fact, he dropped out of high school. It hasn’t had much of an effect on his success however. If you haven’t picked up on this yet, his net worth is estimated between $700 million and $820 million. That goes to show you, kids, if you’re talented, smart and destined for greatness, school doesn’t really matter.
5. He Didn’t Know His First Son for 20 Years
A man named Curtis Young, now in his thirties, grew up in Compton with his mother and step-father. Curtis met his real father at age 20, after years of N.W.A. fandom and idolizing rappers who had grown up in his neighborhood. His biological father was Dr. Dre.
After a DNA test was established, the two met and have maintained a fairly solid relationship since. Curtis, who used to go by the stage name “Hood Surgeon” (notice the medical themed father n’ son rap names), has said that while his father helped him out financially early on, he never sought a handout and was once told that he had the right name and genes, all he had to do was run with it.
4. One of His Sons Died of an Overdose
Andre Young Jr, who was named after his father, died about seven years ago, in late August of 2008. His mother unfortunately found him in their home, after a tough night of intense partying. Andre Young Jr. was just twenty years old at the time. After an autopsy, it was sadly determined that Dr. Dre’s son had in fact died of a drug overdose, specifically an overdose of heroin and morphine.
3. He Went to Jail for Parking Tickets
Let’s step back for just a minute. Dr. Dre has rapped about dealing drugs, life in the hood, and has even penned lyrics that describe killing cops. He has also been convicted of several counts of battery, one of which involved an incident with a police officer. In 1987 however, Dre had to be bailed out of jail by Eazy-E. He was in there for unpaid parking tickets. In an exchange for being bailed out, Dr. Dre agreed to produce Boyz-N-The-Hood with Eazy-E.
2. He Didn’t Know Eminem Was White
Dre has talked about this subject often, and when he heard Eminem rap all those years ago, he heard nothing but talent, and knew he wanted to work with him. Nobody told him anything about the man behind the voice and the rhymes. Dre has indicated that keeping things different has always been something he believed in as an artist and working with a white rapper was different at the time, but that he believed that even if the two had never met, Marshall Mathers would have still become successful. Maybe he’s okay with people knowing this one, but still, great story.
1. He Has a History of Hitting Women
His notorious attack on talk show host Dee Barnes was well-documented back in the early 1990s. With the release of Straight Outta Compton, many people argued that the film was not an accurate portrayal of his time with N.W.A. Two other women who he hit were Tairrie B, and his ex girlfriend Michel’le. He issued an apology that included the standard “I was young and stupid and I’m sorry”, but Michel’le argued that he’s not sincere, and that he was just doing damage control to protect his own reputation and movie.