DR. DRE Biography - Theater, Opera and Movie personalities


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Dr. Dre” b. Andre Young, 18 February 1965, South Central, Los Angeles, California, USA. Widely regarded, by Rolling Stone magazine at least, as the chief architect of west coast gangsta rap, Dre’s musical career began as a DJ at Los Angeles dance club, Eve After Dark. There he would splice up a mix of new records with soul classics like Martha And The Vandellas. The club had a back room with a small four-track studio where he, together with future- N.W.A. member Yella and Lonzo WIlliams, would record demos. The first of these was “Surgery", a basic electro track with a chorus of “Calling Dr Dre to surgery".


These sessions, and nights at Eve After Dark, taught him the turntable techniques he would later bring to N.W.A., after forming the World Class Wreckin’ Cru at the age of 17. Although other former members such as Ice Cube had laid the ground for rap’s immersion into the mainstream, the success of Dre’s 1992 solo debut, The Chronic, confirmed its commercial breakthrough.


It also signalled a change in tack by modern gangsta rappers. The music now took its cue from the funk of George Clinton and Funkadelic, Dre freely admitting to the influence Clinton played on his life: “Back in the 70s that"s all people were doing: getting high, wearing Afros, bell-bottoms and listening to Parliament-Funkadelic. That’s why I called my album The Chronic and based my music and the concepts like I did: because his shit was a big influence on my music.


Very big’. To this end he created a studio band for the sessions, which included the R&B talents of Tony Green (bass) and Ricky Rouse (guitar). While Dre’s lyrics were just as forceful as those that had graced NWA, there was also a shift in subject matter. The Chronic referred heavily to the recreational use of marijuana, taking its name from a particularly virulent, and popular, brand. Together with the efforts of Cypress Hill, cannabis was now the drug of choice for the gangsta rapper, with crack cocaine much discussed but rarely endorsed.


The Chronic would go on to spend eight months in the Billboard Top 10. At least as important was Dre’s growing reputation as a producer. As well as producing an album for one of his many girlfriends, Michel’le, his work with Eazy-E, D.O.C., Above The Law and, most importantly, Snoop Doggy Dogg, broke new ground. Dogg had already rapped with Dre on the hit singles, “Deep Cover” and “Nuthin” But A “G’ Thang".


However, the Doggystyle opus would break box office records, bringing gangsta rap to the top of the album charts. Many sustained the belief that Dre was the driving force behind its success, the producer himself acknowledging: “I can take a three year old and make a hit record with him". At the same time he was dismissive of his own, pioneering efforts for N.W.A., particularly the epoch-making Straight Outta Compton: “To this day I can"t stand that album, I threw that thing together in six weeks so we could have something to sell out of the trunk’. During his involvement with the NWA posse he became the house producer for Eazy-E’s Ruthless Records.


Seven out of eight albums he produced for the label between 1983 and 1991 went platinum, but he broke from Ruthless over what he alleged was under-payment. Dre’s on-record sneers at Eazy-E began shortly afterwards, including the single “Dre Day", a put-down which Eazy-E would countermand for his reply, “Muthaphukkin’ Gs".Like many of rap’s leading lights, Dre never strayed far from controversy, even after he bought into the comfort of a luxury home in San Fernando Valley.


As if to reinstate himself as a “true gangsta", Dre waged a war of attrition with authority. Television host Dee Barnes filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against him for allegedly throwing her against the wall of a Hollywood nightclub in 1991. He was also convicted of breaking the jaw of a record producer (he was sentenced to house arrest and was fitted with a tracking device), and was detained by mounted police after a fracas in a New Orleans hotel lobby.


Eazy-E sued him, while Dre complained bitterly about restraint of trade and moneys owed, cursed Ruthless’ General Manager Jerry Heller, and finally managed to find a deal with Jimmy Iovine at Interscope Records, who let him set up his own label, Death Row Records, co-founded with the controversial Marion “Suge” Knight, Vanilla Ice’s ex-publicist. The success of The Chronic and Doggystyle, and the signing of rap’s biggest new star 2Pac, briefly made Death Row one of America’s most powerful labels. By 1996, however, its well documented problems culminated in Dre acrimoniously leaving to form his own Aftermath Records label.


The label’s first release was a various artists compilation, whose stand-out track was Dre’s declamatory hit single “Been There Done That", a kiss-off to gangsta rap and Death Row. In 1998, Dre was back in the news again as co-producer on his protg Eminem’s controversial breakthrough album, The Slim Shady LP. The following November he released his highly anticipated sophomore collection, Dr. Dre 2001. Featuring collaborations with Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige and Xzibit, the album was a highly effective reminder of Dre’s pre-eminence in the world of gangsta rap.