Awesome Totally Awesome Dr Dre

Dr. Dre: Hip Hop’s Revolutionary and Visionary

Few people in the music industry have made an impact on a specific genre like Dr. Dre did with rap and hip hop.

His real name is Andre Romelle Young and he’s the guy who brought ghetto street rap to the masses thanks to his ear and ability to produce amazing grooves.

Rap music basically hit big in May, 1986 when New York’s Run D.M.C. released Raising Hell, a record that would quickly reach No. 2 on Billboard in the United States, propelled in part by Run D.M.C.’s collaboration with Aerosmith on the hit “Walk This Way”.

But Raising Hell is mostly a rap record that featured the hits “It’s Tricky” and “My Adidas”, among others and helped put rap on the mainstream map.

Now the sound of the album is fairly bombastic, with uber producer Rick Rubin having a hand in the production. It doesn’t have lots of funky grooves or harmonies. It’s your basic, early rap record.

A year after Raising Hell was released, Dr. Dre was working in Compton, California with N.W.A. on their big release, Straight Outta Compton, which came out in 1988, and spawned the Gangsta Rap genre, with lyrics glorifying murder, guns, drugs and disrespect to women. It became popular and Dr. Dre began the process of honing his techniques behind the board.

It was on N.W.A.’s final release, 1991’s Niggaz4life, that Dre really let the groove do the talking on the songs, adding in plenty of percussion into the mix. Just check out “Real Niggaz Don’t Die”. Dre also started incorporating background harmony and catchy, repetitive keyboard sounds, that had more of today’s hip hop vibe.

Dr. Dre Finds Himself with The Chronic

Awesome Totally Awesome Dr Dre The Chronic

After Dre left N.W.A. in 1991 after a dispute with Eazy- E, he went on to Suge Knight’s famous label, Death Row Records and released his trademark album The Chronicin December 1992.

The Chronic is where Dre put it all together with the phenomenal grooves and a feel that took hip hop to another level entirely, while clearly defining the West Coast sound and his own G-Funk subgenre. Dre successfully incorporated massive, funky bass grooves and beats with earworm synthesizers like on “Fuck wit Dre Day (and Everybody’s Celebratin’)”, all blended in with catchy harmonies. These were not elements found in old school rap records.

A listen to his collaboration with Snoop Dogg on “Nuthin’ But A G Thang”, with its smooth groove will quickly convert most music fans to Dre’s brand of hip hop.

Kanye West said it best when he said in Rolling Stone that The Chronic “is still the hip-hop equivalent to Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. It’s the benchmark you measure your album against if you’re serious.”

Dr. Dre: Producer Extraordinaire

With his M.O. firmly established, Dre, a six-time Grammy winner including Producer of the Year in 2001, would go on to work with some of hip hop’s biggest names, putting his production talents to work. Dre is known as a perfectionist in the studio and workaholic, and his attention to detail is something that helped him produce some of hip hops biggest artsist and turn them into superstars.

Awesome Totally Awesome Snoop doggDre produced Snoop Dogg’s 1993 debut Doggystyle, which sold millions of copies.

Dre was also the man responsible for unleashing Eminem (also a studio perfectionist) on the world after signing the Detroit rapper to his Aftermath label in 1997. He was executive producer on Eminem’s The Slim Shady LP, a record that debuted at No. 2 on Billboard and has become of the masterpieces of hip hop. Dre additionally helped out on The Marshall Mathers LPThe Eminem ShowEncoreRelapse, and Recovery.

In fact, Dre met Eminem after the latter placed second in the 1997 Rap Olympics, and someone sent a copy of the Slim Shady EP to Interscope Records CEO Jimmy Iovine, who played it for Dre. Dre recalled in Rolling Stone “In my entire career in the music industry, I have never found anything from a demo tape or a CD. When Jimmy played this, I said, ‘Find him. Now.'”

Dre has also worked with 2Pac, Mary J. Blige, Warren G, Gwen Stefani, 50 Cent, Alicia Keys, and many others.

Even today, Dre still has his hand on the pulse of the music world, with his protégé Kendrick Lamar’s Good Kid, M.A.A.D City being one of the finest hip-hop albums of the last few years.

Check out more of Cam Maxwell’s Rock ‘N Roll Insight.

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