With lengthy hiatuses and rare appearances, Dr. Dre, the man whose moniker is branded across thousands of music listeners’ headphones, commits himself to projects and products carefully, leaving plenty of space for mystery. So, what do we not know, as well as his hits at least, about hip-hop’s first billionaire?
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‘Still D.R.E.’ feat. Snoop Dogg
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When Dr. Dre was born Andre Romelle Young in 1965, his mother, Verna Young, was only 16 years old. Getting pregnant so young was virtually unheard of at the time, so her friends and family advised and pressed her to have an abortion. She stuck to her decision to have the baby, and proving his mother’s doubters wrong has been a major motivation to Dre’s success since childhood.
Before he joined forces with Eazy-E, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and Arabian Prince in N.W.A (MC Ren joined later), he was a member of World Class Wreckin’ Cru. The electro group was best known for their slow jam ‘Before You Turn Off The Lights’, which Dre references in ‘Still D.R.E.’: “It’s not a fluke / It’s been tried / I’m the truth since ‘Turn Off The Lights’ from the World Class Wreckin’ Cru.”
Dr. Dre is related to fellow West Coast legend Warren G, best known for his G-funk single ‘Regulate’ with the late, great Nate Dogg. The pair became stepbrothers when Dre’s mother married Warren’s father – and it was through Warren that Dre became acquainted with Snoop Dogg.
An N.W.A reunion and third LP was planned around 2000 – Eazy-E would be replaced by Snoop Dogg and the album would be called ‘Not These N*ggaz Again’. The album never came to fruition, but N.W.A did perform on the Up In Smoke tour and released a track called ‘Chin Check’, which appeared on the Next Friday soundtrack.
In 1999, alongside Dre’s ‘2001’ album, also known as ‘The Chronic 2001’, Death Row Records (the label that released Dre’s 1992 classic ‘The Chronic’) released a compilation called ‘Chronic 2000’. Although Suge Knight’s set preceded Dre’s second LP proper, the producer nevertheless sued his former label, on the grounds that they were falsely advertising the release based on his success.
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‘Let Me Ride’ feat. Snoop Dogg
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‘2001’ was originally planned as a mixtape, with the tracks blended together via turntable effects and interludes. He switched this for a more cinematic approach, stating: “I just basically make hardcore hip-hop and try to add a touch of dark comedy here and there. It’s all entertainment first, you shouldn’t take it too seriously.”
Dre believes in reincarnation. Initially sceptical, an experience with a psychic at a party left him shocked by the way she was able to tell him about things that he actually believes in – including that he has lived several lifetimes before. She told him that this is the last lifetime for which he must return.
It’s been over 10 years since Dre’s third solo LP ‘Detox’ album was announced, giving it a mythical status amongst rap releases. The title – and slogan: “Look out for ‘Detox’” – have been appearing on tracks since the early 2000s. Singles ‘Kush’ and ‘I Need A Doctor’ have been released, as well as a pair of commemorative Detox Beats By Dre headphones. Every up-and-coming West Coast rapper seems to have written for it, but as yet there is still no sign of the finished album.
In 2010, Dre announced that as well as ‘Detox’ – which he claimed would drop that year – he’d also be releasing a conceptual instrumental record based around his interpretation of how each planet in the solar system would sound.
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‘Kush’ feat. Snoop Dogg and Akon
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Words: Grant Brydon
‘Detox’ is released on November 17th. Sure, why not. Might be.