After 27 years in the studio, Dr Dre is finally taking a break. According to the producer-rapper extraordinaire, the most time he has spent away from work in almost three decades is two weeks, and is now taking time out to spend with his family.
Demand for his much-delayed album Detox, his first since 1999’s 2001, has reached near-feverish proportions, as word is that this is to be his final offering. We here at WNOL say the big man has earned a little downtime before he takes a bow, having produced over 50 albums by some of the world’s biggest hip-hop stars whilst simultaneously nurturing and expanding a range of other major projects. In honour of this milestone for one of the most important figures in hip-hop history, we’re taking a look back at the impact and achievements of this ground-breaking artist.
Born Andre Romelle Young in 1965, Dre remodeled hip-hop in a number of ways throughout the 90s, first by helping to pioneer the ‘gangsta’ rap genre with Ice Cube as a member of seminal (and incredibly controversial) group N.W.A. In 1992 he released his debut solo album The Chronic as the flagship artist of Death Row Records, developing and popularizing what would become the signature sound of the West Coast, G-funk. The album sold over three million copies, and is considered one of the most well-produced and best hip-hop albums of all time, as well as winning a Grammy for Best Rap Solo Performance for the song ‘Let Me Ride’.
But Dre didn’t stop there, as aside from establishing himself he began establishing other artists who are today leaders in the genre. After featuring him on his own album, Dre helped produced Snoop Dogg’s debut, Doggystyle, in 1993. Like The Chronic, Doggystyle is deemed one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time, perpetuating the dominance of G-funk and also becoming the fastest selling hip-hop album at the time. Much credit was given to Dre for the success and quality of the album. Allmusic wrote: “Dre realized that it wasn’t time to push the limits of G-funk, and instead decided to deepen it musically, creating easy-rolling productions that have more layers than they appear”.
After the death of the West Coast hip-hop’s leading figure, Tupac Shakur, in 1996, Dre re-popularized gangsta rap with his album 2001 in 1999, and co-produced The Slim Shady LP, the breakthrough album of his protégé Eminem, who exploded onto the scene that same year and went on to become the biggest selling artist of the noughties with 86 million records sold worldwide. Dre remains Eminem’s most frequent collaborator, having featured on all of Em’s multiplatinum albums.
Another successful protégé of Dre’s is 50 Cent, whom Dre and Mr Mathers helped produce the 12 million selling Get Rich or Die Tryin’. Despite the undeniable skills of Snoop, Em, 50 and others, it’s Dre’s eye for talent, business acumen and most importantly his legendary abilities as a perfectionist producer that have gifted the world with the legion of world-conquering hip-hop artists still thriving today. Eminem may be rap’s most iconic prodigy but musically he is Dre’s offspring, and a measure of the producer’s impact on hip-hop over the last twenty years.
Dr Dre’s success as a recording artist and producer also helped establish multiple labels. As rapper Crooked I puts it: “He went to Ruthless and he helped build an empire. He went to Death Row, he built an empire. He went to Aftermath, built an empire. How many people have three rings, so to speak, in hip-hop?” With major artists from across these labels and beyond, Dre helped launch the Up in Smoke Tour 2002, regarded as one of the greatest rap concerts of all time.
Aside from producing, Dre has made cameos in several films, including The Wash and Training Day. In 2008, Dre marketed and released his Beats range of headphones and loudspeakers to widespread popularity.
Today, Dr Dre is an icon beyond and above hip-hop. With the release of Detox, which is yet to receive a release date, Dre will undoubtedly secure his legacy as one of the greatest hip-hop artists and producers of all time.
By Christopher Nelson
Screenshot taken from http://www.dr-dre.com/