André Romell Young (born February 18, 1965 in Los Angeles,
California), better known by his stage name Dr. Dre, is an American
record producer, rapper, actor and record executive. He is the founder and
current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and a former co-owner and artist of Death
He was a founding member of the influential rap group N.W.A., which
popularized the use of explicit lyrics in rap detailing the violence of street
life (also known as Gangsta rap). He has also produced albums for and overseen
the careers of some of the biggest stars in (mostly) rap music, including 2Pac,
Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, G-Unit, The Game, Nate Dogg, Busta Rhymes, and Eve.
With tens of millions of records he has produced sold worldwide (including over
65 million with Eminem alone), he is
widely regarded as one of the most popular and powerful figures in rap music of
Musically, as a producer he is credited as a key figure in the creation and
popularization of West Coast G-funk, a style of rap music characterized as
synthesizer-based with slow, heavy beats. G-funk dominated the U.S. rap charts
in the period of 1992-1996, and is still considered one of the major living
styles of hip hop today.
His stage name "Dr. Dre" was derived from his nickname and that of his
favorite basketball athlete, Julius "Dr. J" Erving.
André Young was born in Los Angeles, California in 1965.His parents divorced
soon after he was born; his mother later married the father of future West Coast
rapper Warren Griffin III, known as Warren G.
Young started his career as a drug dealer, and it was at a gig at the
nightclub Eve After Dark that he connected with its owner, Alonzo Williams.
Williams would bring together local talent and form the World Class Wreckin' Cru
and Kru-Cut Records in 1984. The World Class Wreckin' Cru would become stars of
the electro-hop scene that dominated early-80's West Coast hip hop, and their
first hit "Surgery" would prominently feature Dr. Dre on the turntables. It was
during this time with Kru-Cut that Young would first work with fellow Wreckin'
Cru member (and future creative partner) DJ Yella; singer and girlfriend
Michel'le, recording "Turn Off The Lights", which would become a local hit in
1987; and rapper Ice Cube, whose group C.I.A. was signed to Kru-Cut.
In addition to his work with the World Class Wreckin' Cru, Young gained a
reputation as a capable mixtape DJ. On one release, "'86 in the Mix", he edited
300 hip hop records into one 60 minute mix. He continued to make and sell mix
tapes at a local swap-meet in L.A. until as late as 1989, before finally
dropping the practice to fully concentrate on his rap career.
||Andre Romelle Young
||February 18, 1965 (1965-02-18)
||Los Angeles, California, United States
||Rapper, record producer, actor
||Vocals, synthesizer, keyboards, turntables, drum
||Epic, Ruthless, Priority, Death Row, Aftermath, Interscope
||N.W.A, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, World Class Wreckin' Cru, 50 Cent,
Ice Cube 2pac Bow wow
N.W.A. and Ruthless Records
Until this point, hip-hop had been considered a relatively benign form of
music and free of profanity. N.W.A. however, along with fellow west coast rapper
Ice T, debuted with rhymes including profanity and gritty depictions of crime
and life on the street. No longer constricted to racially charged political
issues pioneered by rap artists such as Public Enemy or Boogie Down Productions,
N.W.A shot out with hardcore and realistic perspective of street violence and
local black gangster lifestyle. Propelled by the hit "F*** tha Police", the
group's first full album Straight Outta Compton became a major success,
selling over 3,000,000 copies despite an almost complete absence of
radio-airplay and major concert tours.
As a producer, Young's vocals were limited on the album, but he achieved
notoriety in 1991 after assaulting television host Dee Barnes after she aired a
segment reporting on the feud between the remaining N.W.A. members and recently
departed member Ice Cube. Possibly to compensate for Ice Cube's absence, he
began to rap more on the group's second album Efil4zaggin. He also
produced tracks for a number of other rap acts on Ruthless Records, including
Above the Law, and his friend The D.O.C.'s album No One Can Do It Better.
Young frequently used studio musicians for tracks, and his work with N.W.A. was
co-produced by DJ Yella. Later, The D.O.C. would say that his album would be the
one record that Dr. Dre produced from start to finish without help from any
outside contributors (see references for details).
Death Row Records
Despite pioneering N.W.A.'s sound as the group's principal producer, Dr. Dre
complained of unfair contracts that left him with little compensation for the
group's tremendous profits (lead rapper and principal lyricist Ice Cube had left
following the release of Straight Outta Compton due to similar
complaints). After a dispute with Wright, Young left the group at the peak of
its popularity in 1991 under the advice of friend, and N.W.A. lyricist, The
D.O.C. and his bodyguard at the time, Suge Knight. Knight, a notorious strongman
and intimidator, was somehow able to have Wright release Young from his
contract, and using Dr. Dre as his flagship artist, founded Death Row Records
after securing a distribution deal with the fledgling Interscope Records, helmed
by future head of Universal Music Jimmy Iovine
While N.W.A. had sold two million records of their breakthrough album
Straight Outta Compton, they had been a counter-culture phenomenon, and done
so on an independent label (Ruthless Records) without radio airplay or major
acceptance from the mainstream record industry. Interscope head Iovine saw
promise in Young's music, and saw his new sweet, synthesizer-based sound as a
way of palletizing the hard beats of gangsta rap and giving it a more mainstream
appeal. "One reason I hadn't been that interested in hip-hop is most hip-hop
records sounded cheap, tinny", Iovine said later in a 2006 interview with the
Los Angeles Times. "But Dre's music sounded better on my speakers than most rock
records. I didn't know hip-hop, but I knew my speakers, and this was fantastic".
(See references for details.)
Young released his first solo single "Deep Cover", (also known as "187") in
the spring of 1992. This was the beginning of his collaboration with Calvin
Broadus, Jr., or Snoop Doggy Dogg (now known as Snoop Dogg), a promising young
rapper introduced to him by his step-brother, Warren G (see references for
details). In 1992, Young released his debut album The Chronic under Death
Row Records. Until this point, rap had been primarily party music (e.g., Def Jam
Recordings's The Beastie Boys), or angry and politically charged (e.g. Public
Enemy, X-Clan, etc.), and the music had consisted almost entirely of samples and
breakbeats. Young ushered in a new style of rap, both in terms of musical style
and lyrical content.
Artistically, The Chronic continued to describe gang life much in the
same way that Young's former group N.W.A. had, but with more of a focus on women
and soft drugs (hence the title of The Chronic, which refers to high-grade
marijuana). The beats were slower and mellower, borrowing from late 1970s/early
1980s Funk music by George Clinton and his group Parliament. By mixing these
early influences with original live instrumentation, he created a distinctive
musical style later to be known as G-funk.
Although the album was initially unheralded, on the strength of singles such
as "Nuthin' but a "G" Thang", featuring protege Snoop Doggy Dogg and hits like
"Let Me Ride" and "F*** wit Dre Day (and Everybody's Celebratin')" (Shortened to
"Dre Day" for radio and television play), The Chronic became a cultural
phenomenon and a multi-platinum seller, and is now widely considered to be one
of rap's all-time classic albums.
It soon became virtually impossible to hear mainstream hip-hop that wasn't
affected in some way by Young. Hip-hop, which had once been a sample and
break-beat centered music rising primarily form New York and other East Coast
cities, began to see a shift in attention to the West Coast, where the G-funk
style created by Dr. Dre was the most influential. Indeed, were it not for the
influence of Dr. Dre, it's possible that the infamous "East Coast/West Coast"
feud of the mid-1990s might never have even transpired, as the West would have
had no competing style of rap or even many visible artists with which to
contrast to New York's.
The following year, Young produced Broadus' 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. It went on to sell over 5 million copies. Young was
also instrumental in the creation of other hit west coast records, including the
Death Row act Tha Dogg Pound's album Dogg Food, and influenced his own
step-brother Warren G's album Regulate...G Funk Era.
In 1995, just as Death Row Records was signing rapper 2Pac and positioning
him as their major star, Young left Death Row Records amidst a contract dispute
and growing concerns that label boss Suge Knight was corrupt, financially
dishonest and out of control. In an interview with The Source shortly
after his departure, Dr. Dre alluded to incidents such as Knight's beating of an
engineer as pivotal in his decision to leave. He formed his own boutique label
Aftermath Entertainment directly underneath Death Row's distributor, the Jimmy
Iovine-helmed Interscope Records. Not long after Young's departure, the fortunes
of Death Row took a dramatic turn, following the death of 2Pac and racketeering
charges against Knight. Within the next few months, the label's final major star
Snoop Doggy Dogg would also leave and Knight would go to prison. The label
entered a steady decline, and now makes profits almost entirely off of old works
recorded during its heyday.
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 Young suggested that he was moving on to another level of
music and lifestyle. While initially going gold (500,000 units), the album was
considered a critical disappointment by Dre's standards, failing to raise much
talk of the label. Today, the compilation album is most notable for the fact
that none of the artists introduced on the record went on to successful careers.
In 1997, Young produced several tracks on Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature
Present The Firm: The Album; although the album went platinum, it was met
with similarly negative reviews from critics. Rumors began to abound that
Aftermath was facing financial difficulties.
The turning point for Aftermath came in 1998, when Jimmy Iovine, the head of
Aftermath's parent label Interscope, suggested that Young sign the white Detroit
rapper Marshall Mathers, artistically known as Eminem, to Aftermath. Interscope
saw promise in Mathers, but feared that the fact he was white would harm his
credibility in the overwhelmingly black market of hip hop. It was hoped that
pairing him with Young would help establish him as a credible star (since then,
Iovine has made similar matches with other Interscope artists, pairing Canadian
singer Nelly Furtado with hip-hop producer Timbaland, and former ska-pop No
Doubt lead singer Gwen Stefani with Pharrell Williams). Young produced three
songs and provided vocals for two on his controversial album, ("My Name Is",
"Guilty Conscience" and "Role Model") in 1999.
On these tracks, Eminem's over-the-top "Slim Shady" persona was contrasted with
Dre's older, more sober, post-gangsta attitude to rap. On the song "Guilty
Conscience", Dre and Eminem give conflicting advice to people faced with moral
dilemmas, with Dre urging the song's characters to do the right thing, and
Eminem urging them to give in to their darkest impulses. At the end of the
track, Eminem begins to protest that Dre's "do right" advice is coming from the
same man who had a physical altercation with TV host Dee Barnes in his younger,
wilder years (the incident was later resolved out of court). At first, Dre
protests that those were older times, but eventually sighs "f*** it" and sides
with Eminem's "evil" reaction. Eminem's debut album initially sold over 3
million copies, making it Aftermath's most successful release at the time.
When Dr. Dre released his second solo album, 2001 (sometimes referred
to by fans as '"The Chronic 2001"'- The planned title '"The Chronic 2000"' was
scrapped after former label Death Row released a compilation disc under the same
name) in the fall of 1999, it was an ostentatious return to his gangsta rap and
g-funk roots. To prove the point, the first single "Still D.R.E." re-united
Young with Death Row collaborator Snoop Dogg, and made renewed references to
good marijuana and expensive cars, declaring "[I] still got love for the
streets". 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,
Xzibit, Nate Dogg and Eminem. The album was highly successful, charting at
number two on the Billboard charts
and has since been certified six times platinum, thus reaffirming a recurring
theme featured in its lyrics, stating that Dr. Dre was still a force to be
reckoned with, despite the lack of major releases in the previous few years.
Eminem's Slim Shady LP was followed by the even more successful and
controversial second release, The Marshall Mathers LP in 2000. The album
featured angrier vocals from Eminem and took his "Slim Shady" persona to
dizzying extremes (in a 2000 Spin magazine article, Eminem credited his improved
vocals to Young's coaching). The album eventually went on to sell over 9 million
copies in the U.S, and established Eminem as one of the biggest music stars in
In 2000, Dre won the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year, for his work on
"The Marshall Mathers LP" and 2001. The albums followed a new musical
direction, characterized 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 (whom he would produce again on the Stefani and Eve track "Rich Girl"),
"Break Ya Neck" by Busta Rhymes, and "Family Affair" by Mary J. Blige.
By the time Eminem's third album The Eminem Show was released in 2002,
Mathers was producing the bulk of his output himself. However, Eminem's
association with Dr. Dre remained a large part of Eminem's identity in rap.
The Eminem Show sold over 20 million copies worldwide and was an unqualified
In 2003, Dr. Dre and Eminem produced the major-label debut Get Rich or Die
Tryin' for Queens rapper 50 Cent, featuring the Dre-produced hit single "In
da Club", as a joint production between Aftermath, Eminem's boutique label Shady
Records and Interscope. On the eve of its release Dre declared it to be one of
the best rap albums made in the past ten years, an opinion the record-buying
public enthusiastically agreed with. The album went on to sell over 11 million
albums worldwide, establishing yet another major rap star under Aftermath and
the Interscope umbrella.
In early 2005, Aftermath released rapper The Game's debut album The
Documentary in conjunction with Interscope and rapper 50 Cent's boutique
label G-Unit Records. Propelled by the lead single "How We Do" produced by
Dr.Dre and Mike Elizondo and featuring 50 Cent, the album sold 586,000 copies in
its first week and eventually sold over 2 million copies in the U.S., and over 5
million worldwide, establishing yet another superstar under the Aftermath label.
Shortly after, Aftermath/Shady released 50 Cent's second album The Massacre,
which fared even better, selling over 1 million records in a short week (the
album was rushed out to combat bootlegging). It eventually went on to sell over
5 million copies in the U.S alone, and went on to become the second
highest-selling album of 2005 (it was initially declared the highest selling,
however, singer Mariah Carey's 2005 release The Emancipation of Mimi continued
to chart throughout early 2006 and eventually outstripped it by a small margin).
However, a falling-out between The Game and 50 Cent apparently created a rift
at Aftermath. After being kicked out of 50 Cent's G-Unit group on-air during a
February 2005 interview on Hot 97 (see references for details), the two parties
engaged in what is arguably the biggest modern day feud. For more information
please see G-Unit vs. The Game. To date, Dr. Dre has not spoken publicly about
this matter, but for whatever reason The Game's second album, released November
14, 2006, and ironically titled Doctor's Advocate, was released on Geffen
Records rather than on Dr. Dre's Aftermath label, and does not feature any
production from him (in a XXL interview, The Game states that his public
attacks and criticisms against Aftermath labelmate 50 Cent went against Dr.
Dre's wishes, and is what led to the falling out). On the title track, The Game
emotionally apologizes to Dr. Dre for disobeying his word. In a November 2006
interview with the website Allhiphop.com, The Game stated that he recently spoke
with Dr.Dre via telephone, and that Dre congratulated him on his new album and
wished him the best. He has also vowed that he will work with his mentor Dr. Dre
again, although to date there are no quotes available from Dr. Dre himself that
confirm either of these claims. Dr. Dre has also appeared in the movies The
Wash and Training Day. He later stated that he does not intend to
pursue a career in acting, however he did compose the music for Bad Boys 2. A
song of his, "Bad Intentions" (featuring Knoc-Turn'Al) and produced by Mahogany,
was featured on The Wash soundtrack. Dre also appeared on two other songs
"On the Blvd." and "The Wash" along with his co-star Snoop Dogg.
Dr. Dre is considered a perfectionist by many who have worked with him, and
while some projects he has worked on have come together relatively quickly (ie.
50 Cent's debut album, which was recorded and released within a year of his
signing to Shady/Aftermath), he is often notoriously slow releasing announced
albums. Among planned but never released albums are a full length reunion with
Snoop Dogg titled Breakup to Makeup, an album with fellow former N.W.A
member Ice Cube which was to be titled Heltah Skeltah, an N.W.A reunion
album, and a joint album with fellow producer Timbaland to be titled Chairmen
of the Board. To date, none of these albums have come to fruition (see
interviews with Snoop Dogg, the D.O.C., and Dr. Dre with Scratch magazine listed
below in references respectively).
Perhaps the best-known of these delayed releases is that of his planned final
solo album, Detox, which was first announced around 2000. In 2004, he
declared the project cancelled, as he decided to put all his effort into
producing the artists on his Aftermath label, including Eminem, 50 Cent, Eve,
Stat Quo and Busta Rhymes, and to spread the completed Detox tracks to their
albums. However, in November 2004, Dr. Dre and Interscope confirmed that
Detox was still in the works and is currently scheduled to be released in
the June of 2008. On Eminem's song "Encore", which features Dr. Dre, he says
"Aftermath... 2006...and don't worry about that Detox-album...we gon' make Dre
do it." Also, in The Game's 2005 song "Higher", Dr. Dre makes a brief appearance
to announce, "Look out for Detox". In a video on Bishop Lamont's myspace page, a
video with Dr. Dre and Lamont in the interview confirmed that Detox will be
released in September of 2007. In an onstage appearance at the MTV Video Music
Awards on September 9th, 2007, Dre addressed eager fans by saying "..Detox is
According to RapDimension, Dr. Dre has stated that although he isn't far from
completing his final album 'Detox', the album has been pushed back to an 08
release. Fans have been waiting for 'Detox' for years.
Currently, Dre is working with Raekwon on his album Only Built 4 Cuban
Linx II. Other albums he has worked on are Young Buck's Buck the World,
Bishop Lamont's The Reformation, 50 Cent's Curtis, Chauncey
Black's Church Boy, Papoose's The Nacirema Dream and albums for
Eve and G.A.G.E.. It is also said that he has produced some tracks on Lil
Wayne's new album Tha Carter III. Also Dr. Dre may work with The Game again on
his rumored-to-be last album.
In February 2007, it was announced that Dr. Dre would produce "Dark Comedies"
and Horror films for New Line-owned company Crucial Films, along with longtime
video director Phillip Atwell. Dr. Dre announced "This is a natural switch for
me, since I've directed a lot of musicvideos, and I eventually want to get into
He has also stated a movie production company called Interscope/Shady/Aftermath
Films with Eminem, The company has worked on 50 Cent's debut movie Get Rich or
Young has been a regular on Rolling Stone magazine's "Annual 50 Richest Rock
Stars" list since its first installment in 2001. In 2001, he earned $51.9
million U.S., including $35 million from the sale of 30% of his share of
Aftermath records to parent label Interscope.
In Rolling Stone's 2004 list, it was reported that Young charges a "Friends
and Family" rate of $75,000 for artists affiliated with him. On top of the flat
fees, he earns an additional 5% production royalty and label profits for
For outside work, his rate is considerably higher. Rolling Stone reported
that he earned $2 million for his work on the hit Mary J. Blige song "A Family
Affair" in 2001, and that he earns roughly $250,000 per track for co-production
on songs such as Gwen Stefani's "Rich Girl". His personal wealth is estimated by
the website panachereport.com to exceed $150 million, making him number 6 on
their "Top Ten Richest People in Hip Hop 2006" list.
Musical influences and style
Dr. Dre has said that his primary instrument in the studio is the MPC3000, a
drum machine and sampler, and that he uses as many as four or five to produce a
single recording. He cites George Clinton, Isaac Hayes and Curtis Mayfield as
primary musical influences. Unlike most rap producers, he tries to avoid samples
as much as possible, preferring to have studio musicians re-play pieces of music
he wants to use, because it allows him more flexibility to change the pieces in
rhythm and tempo (see references for details, Scratch Magazine 2004). In 2001,
he told Time magazine, "I may hear something I like on an old record that
may inspire me, but I'd rather use musicians to re-create the sound or elaborate
on it. I can control it better."
When he does sample older records -usually for vocals- he tends to blend the
samples with live guitars, bass, synthesizers, and on The Chronic track
"Lil' Ghetto Boy", jazz flute, creating a soundscape where it often becomes
difficult to tell where the sample ends and the original music begins. Dr. Dre's
blend of hard rap beats combined with synthesizers and soul samples is known as
After founding Aftermath Entertainment in 1996, Dr. Dre took on producer
Mel-Man as a co-producer, and his music took on a more synthesizer-based sound,
using less vocal samples (As he had used on "Lil' Ghetto Boy" and "Let Me Ride"
on The Chronic, for example). Mel-Man has not shared co-production
credits with Dr. Dre since approximately 2002, but fellow Aftermath producer
Focus has credited Mel-Man as a key architect of the signature Aftermath sound -
see references for details (Note: In 2003 The Source magazine reported that
Mel-Man had left Aftermath, though in 2004, Focus mentioned in an interview with
Aftermathmusic that Mel-man had re-joined the label).
In 2000, Dr. Dre began his long collaboration with Los Angeles based bassist,
guitarist and keyboardist Mike Elizondo, who has also produced, written and
played on records for female singers Poe, Fiona Apple and Alanis Morissette.
Elizondo's first major collaboration with Dr. Dre was for Eminem's single "The
Real Slim Shady", and he went on to co-write Dr. Dre-produced hits such as "A
Family Affair" for Mary J.Blige. His first credit as co-producer with Dre was on
50 Cent's "In Da Club". He has since been listed as a co-producer on the bulk of
Dr. Dre's releases.
In 2004, Dr. Dre told Scratch magazine that he has been studying piano
and music theory formally, and that a major goal is to accumulate enough musical
theory to score movies. In the same interview he stated that he has collaborated
with famed 60's songwriter Burt Bacharach by sending him hip-hop beats to play
over, and hopes to have an in-person collaboration with him in the future (see
references). While Dr. Dre tracks remain drum machine-based and synthesizers
remain an important part of his sound, in recent years his music has become more
orchestral, sparse and featured more classical instruments such as piano and
strings, examples being the 2006 song "Imagine", recorded for Snoop Dogg; and
"Lost Ones," recorded for Jay-Z.
Dr. Dre has stated that he is a perfectionist, and is known to push the
artists he records with to give flawless performances. As he told Scratch
magazine in 2004, "You got to come in and go to work, man...you're not going to
work harder than me. The harder you work, the harder I'm going to work." In
2006, Dubcnn.com mentioned during an interview with Snoop Dogg that Dre had made
new artist Chauncey Black re-record a single bar of vocals 107 times. Snoop
replied, "[T]hat's just how he gets down. I went and did a song with the nigga,
the nigga made me do each word, word for word, until I got it right" (See
references for details).
Dr. Dre has stated that his famous collaborator Eminem is a fellow
perfectionist, and attributes his success on Aftemath to his like-minded work
ethic. As he told Scratch in the same interview, "[H]e came in, and he works his
ass off. Everybody that came in the studio and really put their thing down, and
really put it together has been successful with me. Everybody else that I've
worked with that's slacking ends up having to go to somewhere else to do their
thing" (see references).
A consequence of this perfectionism is that some artists that initially sign
deals with Dre's Aftermath label never release albums. In 2001, Aftermath
released the soundtrack to the movie "The Wash". featuring a number of Aftermath
acts such as Shaunta, Daks, Joe Beast and Toi. To date, none have released
full-length albums on Aftermath and have apparently ended their relationships
with the label and Dr. Dre. Other noteworthy acts to leave Aftermath without
releasing albums include 2001 vocalist Hittman and 1980s rap icon Rakim
(see references for details).
Unlike the majority of hip-hop tracks even to this day, Dr. Dre's tracks have
featured a large amount of live instrumentation, and he has often been praised
for his musical ability. But since his earliest work in rap, Dr. Dre has
produced records with the help of outside musicians, leading to allegations that
he does not actually produce a significant portion of the tracks that are
credited to his name. To date, only 3 co-producers have shared production
credits alongside Young officially- DJ Yella on N.W.A. albums, Mel-Man on
Aftermath releases between the label's inception and until approximately 2002,
and most recently, Mike Elizondo, a Los Angeles-based bassist.
However, over the years word of other collaborators has surfaced. During his
tenure at Death Row Records, it was alleged that Dre's half brother Warren G and
Tha Dogg Pound member Daz made many uncredited contributions to songs on his
solo album The Chronic and Snoop Doggy Dogg's album Doggystyle (Daz
received production credits on Snoop's similar-sounding, albeit less successful
album Tha Doggfather after Young left Death Row Records).
It's known that Scott Storch, who has since gone on to become a successful
producer in his own right, contributed to Dr. Dre's second album 2001;
Storch is credited as a songwriter on several songs and played keyboards on
several tracks. In 2006, he told Rolling Stone:
"At the time, I saw Dr. Dre desperately needed something," Storch says.
"He needed a fuel injection, and Dre utilized me as the nitrous oxide. He
threw me into the mix, and I sort of tapped on a new flavor with my whole
piano sound and the strings and orchestration. So I'd be on the keyboards,
and Mike [Elizondo] was on the bass guitar, and Dre was on the drum
Current collaborator Mike Elizondo, when speaking about his work with Young,
describes their recording process as a collaborative effort involving several
musicians. In 2004, he claimed to Songwriter Universe Magazine that he had
written the foundations of the hit Eminem song "The Real Slim Shady", stating,
"I initially played a bass line on the song, and Dre, Tommy Coster Jr. and I
built the track from there. Em [Eminem] then heard the track, and he wrote the
rap to it" . This account is
essentially confirmed by Eminem in his book "Angry Blonde"- in it, he states
that the tune for the song was composed by a studio bassist and keyboardist
while Dr.Dre was out of the studio -though he adds that Dre programmed the
song's beat after returning (Eminem- "Angry Blonde". 2000, Regan Books, New York
Furthermore, in the September 2003 issue of The Source, a group of
disgruntled former associates of Dre complained that they had not received their
full due for work on the label. A producer named Neff-U claimed to have produced
the songs "Say What you Say" and "My Dad's Gone Crazy" on The Eminem Show,
the songs "If I Can't" and "Back Down" on 50 Cent's Get Rich or Die Tryin',
and the beat featured on Dr. Dre's commercial for Coors Beer (See references for
details -Source Magazine, September 2003).
It should be noted that although Young studies piano and musical theory, he
is not necessarily an instrumentalist himself. As he joked to Time
magazine in 2001, "I bought a trumpet a couple of years ago, and everybody
started hiding from me" . In the
same article, Time described a recording process in which Dr. Dre operates is
more as a conductor than a musician himself-
Every Dre track begins the same way, with Dre behind a drum machine in a
room full of trusted musicians. (They carry beepers. When he wants to work,
they work.) He'll program a beat, then ask the musicians to play along; when
Dre hears something he likes, he isolates the player and tells him how to
refine the sound. "My greatest talent," Dre says, "is knowing exactly what I
want to hear." 
However, the fact that Young does not play instruments on his records may not
necessarily diminish his contributions as a record producer. Some of the
controversy may stem from a dispute over what the term "producer" means in
music. In Hip-hop, the role of producer is often simply given to the person who
"creates the beat", be it through the use of a drum machine, keyboards, or even
simply choosing samples and looping them. By this definition, allegations that
Young was not the "real" producer of some tracks credited to him can have merit.
However, the role of producer has generally been understood to mean controlling
recording sessions, guiding performers, and supervising the recording, mixing
and mastering processes. In this respect, Dr. Dre can be given the credit as the
primary and most important producer, even in the face of these allegations.
In interviews, artists that have worked with Dr. Dre generally tend to credit
him with bringing an overall artistic vision to projects, helping artists to
give their best performances. In a 2006 interview with Allhiphop.com, Snoop Dogg
talked about re-writing his lyrics to the single "That's That" after receiving
advice from Young, and stating that his input is what made the song a hit. As
Dr. Dre told Time Magazine in 2001, "One of the things I like most about
producing is recording vocals," he says. "I like instructing people, but I'm
also trying to bring out a good performance, so I work with them-encourage
Although Snoop Dogg retains working relationships with Warren G and Daz, who
are alleged to be uncredited contributors on the hit albums The Chronic
and Doggystyle, he states that Dr. Dre is capable of making beats without
the help of collaborators, and makes it clear where the credit for the success
of his albums is due-
Beatmakers make beats. A lot of niggas make beats. [Dre] produces tracks.
So that ain't disrespect what I'm saying. I'm just telling you what's real.
I seen him make tracks from scratch. My whole record the nigga made damn
near everything from scratch. [For the song] "Ain't No Fun", Daz and Warren
G brought him the little [sings melody], that's all they had! Dre took that
muthaf***a to the next level! Warren G brought in the [sample of] Donny
Hathaway [singing], "Little Ghetto Boy, laying in the ghetto streets". Dr.
Dre flipped it like "Hold on, gimme that!" Took that muthaf***a and made it
straight hit!... They made beats, Dre produced that record. Point blank, and
I'd say it in they face...I can make a beat, but I can't produce! I can make
a beat, but can I tell a nigga what to rap about, can I tell him when to
come with the hook? Can you break the beat down? That's what producing is.
It should be noted that Dre's prominent studio collaborators, including Scott
Storch, Elizondo, Mark Batson and Dawaun Parker, have shared co-writing,
instrumental, and more recently co-production credits on the songs where he is
credited as the producer.
It is also widely acknowledged that most of Dr. Dre's raps are written for
him by others, though he retains ultimate control over his lyrics and the themes
of his songs. As Aftermath Producer Mahogany told Scratch: "It's like a class
room in [the booth]. He'll have three writers in there. They'll bring in
something, he'll recite it, then he'll say. 'Change this line, change this
word,' like he's grading papers." (See references for details.) As seen in the
credits for tracks Young has appeared on AIDS, there are often multiple people
who contribute to his songs (although it should be noted that often in hip-hop
many people are officially credited as a writer for a song, even the producer).
As a member of N.W.A., The D.O.C. wrote lyrics for him while he stuck with
producing (See D.O.C interview in references for details). When Young went to
Death Row, Snoop Dogg took on a lot of the writing work for Dr. Dre, although it
should be noted that Dre has never openly admitted or denied this. More
recently, famed New York rapper Jay-Z ghostwrote lyrics for the 2001
single "Still D.R.E." (He is listed under the songwriting credits as "S.
Carter", or Shawn Carter).
When Dr. Dre started Death Row, he had left Ruthless Records, which was owned
by his former N.W.A. group mate Eazy-E and their manager Jerry Heller who had
been accused of stealing money from him and the group. As a result, Dr. Dre
left, and on his debut album, The Chronic, he insulted them on the tracks
"F*** wit Dre Day" with the assistance of his new protégé Snoop Dogg, "Bitches
Ain't S***t", and "Puffin' on Blunts and Drankin' Tanqueray". The next year, Eazy-E
responded on his album It's On (Dr. Dre) 187um Killa with the songs "Real
Muthaphuckkin G's", "Still a Nigga", and "It's on". The feud grew to embroil
most artists on both labels.
This feud started when Luke antagonised N.W.A. on one of his videos and as a
response Dr. Dre, and his new ally Snoop Dogg, attacked him on the track "Dre
Day". Campbell responded with "Cowards in Compton". The video was a parody of
Dr. Dre's hit "Nuthin' but a "G" Thang". Snoop Dogg responded on the second
verse of his song "Tha Shiznit".
Death Row Records
With all the controversy and madness that surrounded Death Row, Dr. Dre left
soon after to start Aftermath Entertainment. However, many artists on the Death
Row label felt offended when Dr. Dre left Death Row and released several diss
songs. 2Pac felt he had not been fair to them and Snoop Dogg when he had not
gone to Snoop Dogg's murder case. This led 2Pac to attack him on "Toss It Up"
"Still down for that Death Row sound, searchin for paydays/No longer Dre Day,
arrivederci/Blown and forgotten, rotten for plottin Child's Play/Check your
sexuality, as fruity as this Alize/Quick to jump ship, punk trick, what a dumb
move/Cross Death Row, now who you gon' run to?" (also death sampled dre's beat
no diggity on this song), "F*** Friends" "What's up in 9-6? Fine tricks in
drag/F*** Dre, tell that bitch he can kiss my ass" "Against All Odds" "You
living fantasies, nigga I reject your deposit/We shook Dre punk ass, now we out
of the closet" and finally on the unreleased track "Fade Me" "Now I ain't dre
baby/But won't you Let me ride " . Also, in "To Live and Die in L.A." 2Pac says
"California love part mothaf***in' two, without gay ass Dre." However, despite
this Dre rapped the lines "pussy you're not pac/i knew him/pac was a real
nigga/you're just a f***ing insult to him" in his song with Obie Trice and
Eminem called "S***T Hits The Fan" on Obie Trice's album Cheers, these
comments were aimed at Ja Rule. Daz Dillinger believed Dr. Dre had taken credit
for productions he had done so Dillinger attacked Dr. Dre on the track "Don't
Try To Play Me Homie". J-Flexx, Dr. Dre's former ghostwriter, who believed that
Dr. Dre had cheated him out of his money, assailed him on a parody of Dr. Dre's
hit "Been There, Done That", called "Who Been There, Who Done That". Later after
2001 Royce Da 5'9, another one of Dre's ghostwriters also dissed him.
In 2007, Dr. Dre struck back at the now defunct Death Row Records one last
time. In the company's bankruptcy, Dre felt that the masters of his debut album,
The Chronic, should go to him rather than be auctioned off.
The case is still pending.
- 1992: The Chronic
- 1999: 2001
- 2008: Detox
||Set It Off
||Up In Smoke Tour