10 Reasons NOT To Forget About Dre
Back in November of 2000, writer Neil Kulkarni made a list of why we shouldn’t forget about Dre.
Fast forward 14 years later, lets see what Mr. Kulkarni had to say about the Producer/Rapper, now Billionaire.
1. Cos he’s the Phil Spector of hip-hop
Starting as a DJ at LA club Eve After Dark in ’85, Dre spliced new tracks with classic Motown. He then formed bow tie-wearing funk group World Class Wreckin’ Cru at 17 and worked with Ice Cube and Eazy-E in ’86, putting together gangsta rappers NWA (Niggaz With Attitude) in ’87. And he still thinks they sucked: “Straight Outta Compton is the album I’m least happy with. I threw it together in six weeks so we could have something to sell out of the trunk.” Even so, singles like Fuck Tha Police prompted interest from the FBI.
2. Cos after leaving NWA he changed hip-hop forever
After run-ins with Eazy-E, Dre left NWA to form the Death Row record company with Suge Knight. Dre’s debut solo album, 1992’s The Chronic was the first revolution in 1990s hip-hop, pioneering a sound (oozing bass, 70s funk loops) and attitude (stoned thuggery) that would define hip-hop for the next half-decade. “In the 70s, that’s all people were doing: getting high, wearing Afros and bell-bottoms and listening to Parliament and Funkadelic. That’s why I called my album The Chronic, because that shit was a big influence,” explained Dre. They called it G-funk. After bringing Snoop Doggy Dogg and Warren G (Dre’s step-brother) to the world’s attention, Dre took his throne as hip-hop’s most influential Svengali.
3. Cos when G-Funk fucked up, Dre had the good sense to jump ship
Growing frustrated with Knight’s unorthodox business practices, Dre left Death Row to form his own label, Aftermath, in ’96, proclaiming that, “I can take a three-year-old and make a hit record.” He subsequently declared that gangsta rap was dead and a decline in Death Row’s sales seemed to suggest Dre was right.
4. Cos he can still be fucking stupid when he wants to be
Dre was convicted for breaking the jaw of a record producer in ’92, sentenced to house arrest and fitted with a tracking device. In the same year, while engaged in a fracas in a New Orleans hotel lobby, he hit a cop and was detained by Mounties. Violating the conditions of his parole in ’95 put him in jail for five months in Pasadena. “I’ve always hated authority from an early age. And authority have always hated me,” he said. Naughty boy.
5. Cos while his early 90s colleagues were fucking up big time, he managed to emerge intact
With Snoop disappearing after his murder trial, Eazy coming to the end of a short life of excess (“I miss him, he was my nigger,” said Dre) and Cube spinning into terminal irrelevance, Dre released a new album Presents … The Aftermath in ’96. It flopped (well, it only went platinum once) but, when Suge Knight was sentenced to nine years in prison in February ’97 and Death Row imploded, nobody could be in any doubt that Dre was the only real survivor of G-funk’s ruinous rise and demise.
6. Cos he’s still on top of his game
Last year’s 2001 album was perhaps an even finer return to form than anyone could’ve imagined: a sumptuous, rolling feast of genius putting him firmly back in the centre of the rap world again. The only thing left to conquer was the wider pop world itself. A skinny white kid with the looks and sweariness that could win over America was needed.
7. Cos he made Eminem a star
When Eminem’s demo made its way into the hands of Dre, he knew he had his mitts on paydirt. “It was the strongest straight-up hip-hop shit I’d heard in years – and that voice, man, I just knew he had something,” Dre says. Signing Eminem to his label, the two prepared The Slim Shady EP, adding songs like My Name Is and Guilty Conscience. And the rest, as they say, is history.
8. Cos the 94 video for Natural Born Killaz, his one-off collaboration with Ice Cube, set the tone for the next decade of hip-hop videos
Where previously rap videos had almost prided themselves on their lo-budget, lo-fi ruggedness, this ludicrously expensive spoof of the OJ Simpson murder trial and the Menendez Brothers case (both hot tabloid scuzz at the time), this was the first of the none-more-flashy rap vids that have kept us goggle-eyed every since.
9. Cos in the litigation-heavy world of hip-hop, Dre sues cities!
Yup, the fair metropolis of Detroit is currently being sued by Dre for $25 million for violation of his First Amendment rights when police there stopped him from showing sex’n’violence videos on his Up In Smoke roadshow in July this year.
10. Cos he’s still hip-hop’s most powerful major-domo
With his Up In Smoke tour inscribed in the history books – 521,000 tickets sold for a gross of over $24m – Dr Dre is eyeballing his future projects. Dre says his third solo album will sound like “Kraftwerk meets George Clinton, nothing like the shit I’ve done before”, and an NWA reunion album should arrive next year. Forget about him? Impossible.
© Neil Kulkarni, 2000
Spotted Via – The Guardian