Dr. Dre is an African-American record producer, rapper, and record executive, one of the most successful and well-known producers in the field of hip hop music.
Dre is best-known as for his collaborations with West Coast hip hop artists such as Snoop Dogg, Warren G, and Tupac Shakur, and also as a former member of pioneering gangsta rap group N. W. A. He is also notable for being the co-founder of Death Row Records ; and the founder of Aftermath Entertainment, a successful imprint for Interscope Records that features multi-platinum artists such as Eminem, 50 Cent, Busta Rhymes, Eve, Stat Quo, The Game and of course Dr. Dre himself.
Dr. Dre started his producing career as a member of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru during the first half of the 1980s. In 1986, he and fellow World Class Wreckin’ Cru member DJ Yella were two of the founding members of N. W. A, a highly successful and controversial group that created the prototype for much of what was termed “gangsta rap” in the 1990s. Dr. Dre enjoyed significant success in NWA. After a dispute with Eazy E, a founding member of N. W. A. and Ruthless Records, Dre left the group at the peak of its popularity in 1991 to form Death Row Records with Suge Knight.
Dr. Dre released his first solo single, “Deep Cover” in the spring of 1992. This was the introduction of and ultimately the beginning of his collaboration with rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg, a young man who had recorded some homemade tapes with Dre’s stepbrother Warren G. Warren G played Dre some of Snoop’s mixtapes and a Dre arranged a meeting with the young man, beginning a lifelong association. Snoop’s voice appeared on Dre’s 1992 debut album The Chronic as much as Dre’s
did. Thanks to the single “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” and hits like “Let Me Ride” and “Fuck Wit Dre Day “, The Chronic became a multi-platinum seller, making it virtually impossible to hear mainstream hip-hop that wasn’t affected in some way by Dr. Dre. Shortly after its release, the Chronic became one of the biggest-selling hip hop albums in history, and was followed shortly by a string of multi-platinum albums from Dre’s protégés, including Snoop Dogg’s debut album Doggystyle and Warren G’s G-Funk Era.
The following year, Dr. Dre produced Snoop Dogg’s debut album Doggystyle, with similar subject matter and musical style. Doggystyle achieved phenomenal success, being the first debut album for an artist to debut at #1 on the Billboard charts.
In 1996, the song “California Love” a highly successful collaboration with Death Row artist Tupac Shakur, helped further establish Death Row and Dr. Dre as a major force in the music industry. By the end of the year, however, the success of Death Row had taken a reverse turn, following the death of Tupac Shakur and racketeering charges against Suge Knight. Foreseeing the label’s collapse, Dr. Dre left Death Row to form his own Aftermath Entertainment label. The Dr. Dre Presents. The Aftermath album, released at the end of the year, featured songs by the newly signed Aftermath artists, and a solo track “Been There, Done That”. The track was intended as a symbolic good-bye to gangsta rap, in which Dre suggested that he is moving on to another level of music and lifestyle.
In 1997, Dr. Dre signed aspiring Detroit rapper Eminem to his label, producing his controversial album The Slim Shady LP in 1999, followed by the even more successful and controversial The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000. The latter featured slightly less involvement by Dr. Dre. By the time The Eminem Show was released in 2002, Eminem was producing the bulk of his output himself.
Dre released his second solo album, Dr. Dre 2001 , or more often simply ‘2001’ in 1999. Once again, the album featured about as much of Dre’s voice as the voices of numerous collaborators, including Devin the Dude, Hittman, Snoop Dogg, and Eminem. The album was highly successful, thus reaffirming a recurring theme featured in its lyrics, stating that Dre is still a force to be reckoned with, despite the lack of major releases in the previous few years.
The album followed a new musical direction, characterised by high-pitched piano and string melodies over a deep and rich bassline. The style was also prominent in his following production work for other artists, including hits such as “Let Me Blow Ya Mind” by Eve and Gwen Stefani, “Break Ya Neck” by Busta Rhymes, and “Family Affair” by Mary J Blige.
Dr. Dre has also appeared in the movies “Set It Off”, “The Wash” and “Training Day”, though later stated that he does not intend to pursue a career in acting. A song of his, “Bad Intentions” , was featured on the soundtrack to “The Wash”.