By Richardine Bartee
Dr. Dre, born Andre Romelle Young, is one of the most successful, wealthiest and influential musicians of all musical eras. While to the growing and impressionable generation in the 90s, he is most known for his two classic solo albums—The Chronic and 2001—he started his career with the Compton-originated World Class Wreckin’ Cru in the mid 80s, a fact that many might not know or remember.
Like many groups, The Cru was short-lived, giving way for Dr. Dre to join the prominent, ground-shaking gangsta rap collective, N-ggaz Wit Attitudes, often abbreviated and safely stowed as N.W.A. At the time, this move was seen as a huge juxtaposition to Dre’s prior path, which spawned beefs and brought about concerns of authenticity.
Dr. Dre, Eazy-E, Ice Cube and MC Ren are pioneers, and the most significant players in the rise of gangsta rap, which often told the dark, violent and nerve-wracking truths about police brutality, social injustice, racial profiling and what it was like to be from, live in and survive in the ‘hood.
In verity, the aforementioned ideas were chastised by the media and white America back then, but those topics are still relevant to what’s going on today, 30 years after N.W.A.’s debut. The west coast rap collective is the first and only group in musical history to have a double platinum debut album without mainstream media support, meaning no radio spins, no airplay, or major touring opportunities.
Their debut album, Straight Outta Compton descended from the ghetto heavens at a time when afrocentrism (conscious rap, political rap, militant rap, revolution rap, et al) was popular. It was known to be “exciting” and detailed with “realism and integrity”, according to Hip Hop Connection, the publication once touted as the longest running monthly periodical devoted entirely to the culture.
Because these truths were being told on record and served as a documentation of oral history from an unpopular perspective against the powers that be in America, they were banned from mainstream radio stations across the country. Luckily, that didn’t stop the group’s success.
N.W.A. was the taxing foundation for several members, equipping them with the experience and motivation to go on to become platinum-selling solo entities and the revolutionary pop culture icons that many in the current landscape of music idolize today.
As of October 2012, they were nominated to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. Not only did Dr. Dre bring Snoop Dogg, an ever-evolving recording artist with longevity to the industry, he is also responsible for the careers of Xzibit, Eminem, 50 Cent, The Game, and now, Kendrick Lamar. He is also known as the producer who popularized west coast g-funk. He’s a founding member of Death Row Records, a hip-hop label that was incredibly influential throughout the early and mid-90s. Death Row sold nearly 50 million albums across the globe, garnering approximately $750 million.
In recent years, Dr. Dre has added technology to his list of achievements, partnering with Apple, the larger-than-life technology company created by fellow Californian genius, Steve Jobs. Dre is also a founding member of Beats Electronics with Jimmy Iovine, former chairman of Interscope/Geffen A&M Records and the CEO of Aftermath Entertainment.
In August of last year, Apple acquired Beats, which was established in 2006, for $3 billion. This year, Dre, now 50, topped the Forbes list with an estimated $620 million before taxes. Last year, he was noted as the second richest individual in the American hip-hop scene.
An announcement by way of Ice Cube on Power 99 FM disclosed that the legendary Dr. Dre will release his final album this week on Apple Music. Shortly after on his Beats 1 radio show, The Pharmacy, Dr. Dre confirmed Ice Cube’s statement, adding that his last album will aptly be titled, Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre. He says the project was heavily inspired and influenced by his work on the N.W.A. movie soundtrack.
The surprise news has left fans excited and the Internet buzzing with questions concerning the sound of the album, and what could possibly next for the rap veteran. For someone who has only released two solo studio albums over the years, the rapper, producer and mogul has garnered over 13 million record sales worldwide.
In addition, Dr. Dre revealed that Detox, a 13-14-year-old topic, which was once known as his follow up to 1999’s 2001, is no longer a feat. The death of Detox doesn’t come as a surprise. Dawaun Parker, a producer and songwriter who was on staff at Dr. Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, dropped a solid hint in a podcast interview last September.
“The album he’s working on is not called Detox,” Parker said. “He scrapped Detox a couple years ago, and came up with another title. I won’t say what the title is because I haven’t seen it online or anything yet. But he was like, ‘we’re going to call it this, and we’re going to put it out this way and this way and this way.’ He told a couple of people and we kinda knew that’s just what the thing we were working on, and if we get the joint that he feels like he can lead off with, then that’s what the project will be. I’m still under the impression it’s still that one.”
Instead of ridding the body or the industry of toxins, the 50-year-old maven has decided to take it back to where it all started, his birthplace, and where he was raised. This album includes features from fellow successful Compton-natives Kendrick Lamar and The Game, old pals Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Xzibit and Eminem, talented rappers like Jon Connor and King Mez, and acclaimed singers including BJ The Chicago Kid, Jill Scott, Marsha Ambrosius, and others.
Yesterday, Apple Music offered an exclusive stream of Compton. According to multiple reports, Dr. Dre plans to donate all of his album’s royalties toward building a performing arts center in his hometown, Compton. With Dr. Dre on par to become hip-hop’s first billionaire, it’s an apt gesture.