He defiantly stood up to authorities through his songs and he not only survived but became a multi-millionaire in the process. Andre Romelle Young, more popularly known as Dr. Dre, is one of the richest hip hop artists around with a net worth of over $250 million. And he did it through a lot of hard work and patience that complemented his considerable talent and business skills.
Dr. Dre the Artist
After a difficult childhood that saw him transfer schools due to gang violence, witness his parents’ divorce, see two half-siblings pass away and muddle through school because of poor grades, Young became a DJ after watching rappers perform live at a club called “The Eve after Dark.” He took the name of Dr. Dre after the nickname of Julius Erving, his favorite basketball player known as Dr. J. He then joined the group called World Class Wreckin’ Cru, which dominated the hip hop scene in the West Coast in the early part of the 1980s.
In 1986, Dr. Dre collaborated with rapper Ice Cube to form N.W.A., an initialism for Niggaz Wit Attitudes. Other members of the group included Arabian Prince, DJ Yella, Eazy-E and MC Ren. The group became one of the most important groups in rap music history. It was one of the more influential artists of the gangsta rap sub-genre because of its revolutionary social commentary. Its songs, like “Fuck tha Police,” featured explicit and profanity-filled lyrics about urban crime and the gangster lifestyle. Despite the song being banned from mainstream radio stations and the Federal Bureau of Investigation sending a warning letter to the group, the album “Straight Outta Compton” still became a major success.
Ice Cube then left the group, leaving Dr. Dre as the main producer and performer for N.W.A.’s second album. Dr. Dre himself left the group after a tiff with Eazy-E. He then signed for the controversial Suge Knight of Death Row Records. He released his first solo album entitled “The Chronic” with Snoop Dogg featured in a number of tracks. He won a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for the song “Let Me Ride.” The album also became a phenomenal hit, with the G-funk sound it embodied dominating the music scene in the early 90s.
Knight’s reputation eventually caused concern, which led to Dr. Dre leaving Death Row to form his own label called The Aftermath. He then released an album that was sort of his goodbye to the gangsta rap scene.
Dr. Dre the Producer
Dr. Dre has actually been producing since his N.W.A. days, but his first major production for another artist was when he did the debut record of Snoop Dogg called “Doggystyle.” The album debuted at number one in the music charts. He also produced some songs for the soundtracks of films like “Above the Rim” and “Murder was the Case.”
Dr. Dre also crossed over to another music genre by assisting in the mix of “Even Deeper,” a song by the industrial rock band Nine Inch Nails.
In 1998, upon the suggestion of Jimmy Iovine of Interscope, Dr. Dre signed up a rapper from Detroit named Eminem. Aftermath Entertainment then released Eminem’s debut album called “The Slim Shady LP.” The album included a song produced by Dr. Dre entitled “My Name Is,” the track that launched Eminem into stardom. Aside from that, Dr. Dre also produced two other songs and provided vocals to two songs as well.
He then helped produce six tracks from Eminem’s standout follow-up album called “Marshall Mathers LP.” One of them was called “The Real Slim Shady,” a song that went on to win a Grammy Award. The album also won an award and became the fastest selling rap album of all time. In its first week alone, the “Marshall Mathers LP” sold over 1.76 million units.
Dr. Dre was also the executive producer of the 2002 “The Eminem Show.” He also produced three tracks from the album, including “Without Me,” a song in which he appeared in the video. The video eventually won trophies from video award-giving bodies.
He then took on the same role of executive producer for Eminem’s fourth album called “Encore.” He was behind eight tracks from the album, including three that got released as singles.
Dr. Dre has also produced several songs and tracks in albums for other prominent artists, like “Family Affair” by Mary J. Blige, “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” by Eve and Gwen Stefani, “Deuce” by The D.O.C., “In Da Club” by 50 Cent, “How We Do” by The Game, “Buck the World” by Young Buck and “Kingdom Come” by Jay-Z.
Controversies and Problems
Dr. Dre has had his share of problems in the music scene. He was charged with assault on Fox Television’s host Dee Barnes after she gave unflattering accounts of N.W.A.’s dispute with Ice Cube. He was also involved in copyright and trademark infringement cases with The Fatback Band and Lucasfilm Ltd. Critics have also questioned his use of ghostwriters for songs that he supposedly wrote himself.
Dr. Dre was also involved in a controversy with former colleague Suge Knight. A man attacked Dr. Dre allegedly upon the order of Knight. Knight wanted to embarrass Dr. Dre before the latter achieved a Lifetime Achievement Award from Vibe Magazine.
Acting and Producing in the Movies
Dr. Dre debuted as an actor in 1996 in the 1996 movie “Set It Off.” He also appeared in “The Wash,” before taking on a prominent role in Denzel Washington’s “Training Day.”
He is also set to go into movie production after signing a deal with New Line Cinema’s Crucial Films. He plans to release horror films and dark comedies. He will also produce with Ice Cube a biographical film about N.W.A.
Dr. Dre endorses products like St. Ides, Coors Light, Dr. Pepper and Chrysler. He also has his own brand of headphones called “Beats by Dr. Dre.” The headphones are made by Monster and feature circumaural headphones called Beats Studio, supra-aural called Beats Spin and in-ear headphones called Beats Tour. It also has special releases from Lady Gaga called heartbeats and Sean Combs called Diddy Beats. Hewlett-Packard eventually signed a deal with him to release the product along with the company’s laptops.
He also has an alcohol spirits line called “Aftermath Cognac and Vodka.” He plans a release date that will coincide with his last studio album to be called “Detox.”
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