Today we celebrate the birth of one of the most influential figures in Hip-Hop. Not only was this man the first rap billionaire, but he was also an instrumental part (literally and figuratively) in the creation of a new sub-genre of rap known as G-Funk. The living legend is described is none other than Dr. Dre.
Andre Romelle Young was born in Compton, California on February 18, 1965. He was the first child born to Theodore and Verna Young. His father had a history in music and was a member of an amateur R&B group called The Romells from which Dre gets his middle name.
In 1986, Dre met O’Shea Jackson aka Ice Cube while collaborating on some music for Ruthless Records. Ruthless Records was a famous record label founded by N.W.A. member Eazy-E and west coast rapper Ice-T. These two are widely credited with starting the gangster rap movement on the West Coast. This meeting and the addition of MC Ren birthed one of the greatest music groups of all time, N*ggaz With Attitude.
After a disagreement with Eazy-E, Dre decided to leave N.W.A. to build his own musical empire. Due to advice given to him by his close friend and fellow rapper, The D.O.C. and his bodyguard at the time, Suge Knight, Dre became the flagship artist of Death Row Records, a label started by Knight in 1992. On Death Row Records, Dre released his first solo album titled The Chronic. This album cemented Dr. Dre’s place as one of the top rappers out of California. While working with Death Row, Dre produced the majority of new artist Snoop Dogg’s music helping him in his rise to superstardom, along with tracks for 2Pac who was also a label member.
In ’96 due to a disagreement between Knight and Dre, Dre left Death Row to build his own label called Aftermath Records. This changed the path of Dre’s career forever. The growth began when the head of Interscope Records, Jimmy Iovine, suggested that Dre sign white rapper Eminem. The success of Eminem’s music made Dr. Dre not only one of the most respected rappers/producers in the game but also one of the more powerful moguls.
Dr. Dre was set to release his third album Detox in 2007 but decided to not and instead produce for other artists. Since then Dre has been mostly behind the scenes shaping the current state of rap music. Most recently he produced the uber-successful N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton, which has created a rise in N.W.A. support from a new generation. His third studio album, Compton, was released shortly after the film and finally ended the long wait for more work from Dre.
The life and career of Dr. Dre is one that has been able to make Rap and Hip Hop what they are today. Without his influence, who knows where rap music would be today. From everyone at The Source, Happy Birthday Dr. Dre, may you have many more success filled years.