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Rap Biographies: Dr. Dre

Dr. Dre
Dr. Dre (born Andre Romel Young on February 18, 1965, in Compton, California) is an African-American record producer, rapper, and record executive, and is one of the wealthiest, most influential, most successful and well-known producers in the field of hip hop music.

Even in the early eighties, eighteen year old Dr. DRE was a well known and valuable DJ in Compton and South Central-L.A. by performing at big clubs and on the radio. Everything began at a nightclub called Eve After Dark where he jobbed and where he could take unrestricted use of the internal studio as compensation for poor payment. Many hits were formed here.

Dre became famous as a member of iconic gangsta rap group N.W.A, continuing his success as a best-selling solo rapper, and most famously, the co-founder of Death Row Records with Suge Knight and the founder of Aftermath Entertainment. 1986, Dr. DRE met Ice Cube, and the two rappers began writing songs for Ruthless Records, a label started by former drug pusher Eazy-E.

Eazy formed N.W.A. -- an acronym for Niggaz With Attitude -- with Dre and Cube, releasing their first album in 1987. A year later, N.W.A. delivered Straight Outta Compton, a vicious hardcore record that became an underground hit with virtually no support from radio, the press, or MTV. N.W.A. became notorious for their hardcore lyrics, especially those of "Fuck tha Police," which resulted in the FBI sending a warning letter to Ruthless and its parent company, Priority, suggesting that the group should watch their step.

Dre set to work on The Chronic (1992), written mostly by himself and The D.O.C., whose vocal cords were crushed in a car accident. The Chronic sold 8 million, and its star was Snoop Doggy Dogg, a rapper with a singsong voice, choruses you could whistle, and concerns the size of a pistol barrel.

Together with Suge Knight he founded Death Row Records in 1992. Already the first production of this new HipHop label was sold for more than three million times: Dr. DRE's "The Chronic". The single "Let Me Ride" won a Grammy in 1993 and the new style of Rap was called G-Funk, which became very popular. On "The Chronic", DRE introduced, among others, a friend of his half-brother Warren G. (Warren Griffin III), a rapper from Long Beach, California, called Calvin Broadus - better known under the name Snoop Doggy Dogg. In the following years, DRE produced a lot of very successful albums for Snoop.

In the following years, DRE did not only produce N.W.A. but also solo LPs from Eazy E., Michel'le (his later on wife) and J.J. Fad. Everything in his hands turned to gold, everything was sold for 1-2 million times or even more. 1990 he produced the main song for the Rap-sampler "We Are All In The Same Gang", on which almost all stars of Westcoast HipHop at that time appeared. After having produced the final N.W.A album "Niggaz4life" in 1991, which landed on number one of the Billboard Album Charts, he quit N.W.A.

In late 1994 Dre announced that he intended to further extend his franchise by reuniting with former bandmate Ice Cube on an album to be titled Helter Skelter. The video for the "Natural Born Killaz" single expensively spoofed tabloid stories like the O.J. Simpson murder and the Menendez brothers case. In 1995 Dre found himself doing five months in Pasadena City Jail for parole violation (he broke a fellow record-producer's jaw in 1992).

His prior offenses included assaulting TV host Dee Barnes in 1991 and hitting a police officer in a New Orleans hotel in 1992. "Suge" Knight pleads no contest in February 1995 to assault with a deadly weapon on two rappers back in 1992. Eazy-E had previously accused the former football player of using duress to end Dr. Dre's contract with his Ruthless Records.

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.

After that, Dr. DRE spent some months in jail for sexual annoyance. When he came out in 1996 he changed his life, married Michel'le and found his own firm Aftermath Entertainment. His first publication for this new HipHop and R&B label, was the compilation "Dr. DRE Presents... The Aftermath" in 1996. A year later, he produced on Aftermath "The Firm" - a big rap project with Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ and Nature. Unfortunately this project always stayed behind expectations, DRE himself calls it of a flop today.

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. While going platinum, the album was considered a commercial disappointment by Dre's standards, and was a critical failure as well.

In 1997, Dre produced Nas, Foxy Brown, AZ, and Nature Present The Firm: The Album; while also going platinum, the album met with similarly negative reviews from critics. Dr. Dre has also appeared in the movies Set It Off, The Wash and Training Day, though he later stated that he does not intend to pursue a career in acting.

The turning point for Aftermath came in 1998, when 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. Though he was heavily involved in the latter, producing five beats with collaborator Mel-Man, by the time The Eminem Show was released in 2002; Eminem was producing the bulk of his output himself. However, Encore featured substantially increased production involvement from Dre.

In 2000, Dr. 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 bass line. 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.

The release of Detox, which was to be Dre's final solo album, was planned for 2004. The project was declared to be cancelled for a while, as Dre decided to put all his effort into producing the artists on his Aftermath label, including Eminem, 50 Cent, Eve, The Game, Stat Quo, and Busta Rhymes; former N.W.A member Ice Cube is currently negotiating a contract with the label. However, in November 2004, Dre and Interscope confirmed that Detox was still in the works and is currently scheduled to be released in late 2006.
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