Dr. Dre (born Andre Romelle Young, February 18, 1965) is an American rapper, record producer and entrepreneur. He gained fame as a member of gangsta rap group N.W.A and helped popularize G-funk through his first solo album The Chronic. He has helped launch and grow the careers of many other key rappers, including Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent. His stage name is based on Dr. J, the nickname of his favourite basketball player Julius Erving, mixed with his own name.
Starting out as a member of the World Class Wreckin' Cru and working in nightclubs as a DJ, Dre joined up with other aspiring rappers like Ice Cube and Eazy-E to become a member of the influential rap group N.W.A, whose work helped brought gangsta rap to the mainstream, selling millions of records in the process despite huge controversy and backlash from legal authorities.
However, Dre had a falling out with Eazy-E and left N.W.A. to help start Death Row Records with Suge Knight. The first album released on the label was Dres The Chronic, which proved highly successful and a key influence on trends for years to come in the rap genre, primarily through popularizing the G-funk sound. He also worked a lot with protégée Snoop Dogg, who was featured on many of the album's tracks, even producing his first Death Row album Doggystyle, which also proved to be highly influential and commercially successful. Dre further collaborated with 2Pac when he was signed to Death Row, their joint works including the number 1 hit "California Love". Dre eventually left Death Row in 1996 due to concern over Suge Knight, whom he felt was financially dishonest and becoming increasingly thuggish.
Dre then formed a new record label called Aftermath Entertainment. It had some difficulties in its first couple of years, releasing poorly received records, but it turned around when Dre signed Eminem, whose debut album The Slim Shady LP proved to be a huge hit. Dre also released his second album 2001 on the label, which was also a huge success. Since then, Dre has been more focused on producing works for other artists ranging from Mary J. Blige to Gwen Stefani rather than releasing solo records. This also included Aftermath signee 50 Cent, whose first 2 albums both went multi-platinum. Dre would also continue to work with Eminem throughout the 2000s, producing many successful releases for him.
For many years, Dre was working on a new solo album called Detox, though it was constantly delayed to the point of becoming hip hop's equivalent to vaporware. By 2015, Dre announced he was officially scrapping Detox for good, and instead released Compton, which was inspired by the film Straight Outta Compton, a biopic on N.W.A. of which Dre served as a producer, which also looked at his time at Death Row.
In addition to music, Dre has also worked as an entrepreneur. Most notably, he created the headphone brand Beats by Dre in 2008, which was later sold to Apple in 2014 for 3 billion dollars. Dre has also done a small bit of acting work, having roles in films like The Wash and Training Day.
- The Chronic (1992)
- 2001 (1999)
- Detox (never released, but the promotional singles "Kush", "I Need A Doctor" and the album track "Die Hard" were released in 2010 and 2011)
- Compton (2015)
- The Contract EP (released via Grand Theft Auto Online) (2021)
"Tropin' With Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')":
- Artifact Title: The "Dr." part of his name was relevant during his World Class Wreckin' Cru days, in which his persona was that of a doctor. It still gets referenced from time to time, but the doctor gimmick was dropped come the N.W.A. era.
- Call-and-Response Song: Eminem and Dre's "Guilty Conscience" is sung in this style, with the two playing the two sides of a person's conscience.
- The Diss Track: "Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')" was aimed at Eazy-E; Tim Dog, an East Coast rapper who slighted the whole West Coast rap scene and released an incendiary diss track towards N.W.A titled "Fuck Compton"; and Luther (Luke) Campbell from Music/2LiveCrew, whose track "Fakin' Like Gangstas" from his debut solo album I Got Shit On My Mind, featuring JT Money from the group Poison Clan, was taken personally for making references to some of the popular rappers in the "gangsta" category (specifically referring to N.W.A). There were also some lyrics alluding to Ice Cube, who departed acrimoniously from the group in 1989 and ridiculed Dre on "No Vaseline". The lyrics: "Then we gon creep to South Central, On a Street Knowledge mission, as I steps in the temple, Spot him, got him, as I pulls out my strap, Got my chrome to the side of his White Sox hat, You tryin to check my homey, you best check yo self, Cause when you diss Dre you diss yourself" had references to Cube's production operation Street Knowledge Productions (now Lench Mob Records), the lyrics "steps in the temple" referring to Ice Cube's affiliation with the Nation of Islam and his hit single "Check Yo Self". However, by the album's release, Ice Cube was on friendlier terms with Dr. Dre, even having a cameo appearance in "Let Me Ride", so unlike Eazy-E and Luke, he was not parodied in the music video.
- Evil Sounds Deep: "Natural Born Killaz"
- Gangsta Rap: Blue Collar during his N.W.A days and commercial during his time with Death Row. He largely left the genre once he formed Aftermath.
- G-Funk: The Trope Maker.
- Minimalistic Cover Art: 2001 basically has "Dr. Dre" in one corner and "2001" in another with a small marijuana leaf on a otherwise completely black cover.
- Misogyny Song: "She Swallowed It" and "Bitches Ain't Shit" are considered amongst the forefathers of the 'bitches and hos' tendency in rap.
- Mock Hollywood Sign: The cover for "Compton" has a Hollywood-esque sign spelling "Compton" overlooking the titular city.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: A frequent joke dating back to his World Class Wreckin' Cru days, and appearing throughout his song and album titles thereafter. Eminem, with his Munchausen's-by-proxy victim/ Ambiguous Disorder persona, especially loves using this joke, often begging the Dr. for surgery, psychiatric help or pharmaceuticals.
- Ode to Intoxication: Dre's first solo album, The Chronic was named after Marijuana and references smoking weed several times. This is despite these lyrics from N.W.A.'s "Express Yourself":"Yo I don't smoke weed or sesh, 'cause it's known to give a brother brain damage
And brain damage on the mic don't manage"
- Rated G for Gangsta: Went from having a dangerous militant persona to being the Straight Man in a duo with the rampaging goofball Slim Shady. Then he became an Apple executive.
- Sampling: Each track on The Chronic contains at least one sample and the intro track alone used 6 different songs to sample from. There is also some sampling on 2001 though not nearly to the extent as The Chronic.
- Slipping a Mickey: In the second verse of the Eminem/Dr. Dre song "Guilty Conscience," Em, as the Bad Angel, has slipped something into a 15-year-old girl's drink and is pressuring the guy to take advantage of her. Dre, being the Good Angel, vehemently objects to this.
- Ten Paces and Turn: Subverted in Dre's and Eminem's "Bad Guys Always Die".Dre: He was shady; I could tell by the look on his face
He said "Take ten paces"; shit, I took eight
- A Wild Rapper Appears!: While he did produce the track, his rap verse on BlackStreet's "No diggity" can be seen as this. It appears near the beginning and he doesn't return afterwords nor is he mentioned again.