Rapper, producer and entrepreneur Dr. Dre initially made it big with the rap group known as N.W.A. in the 1980’s. He has also grown successfully as a solo act and worked with rap’s biggest names such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent.
Since he has had a long successful career and since it was his birthday this week, it was only right that we made Dr. Dre this week’s artist for #FUNFACTSFRIDAY!
Andre Romelle Young, better known as Dr. Dre, was born in Compton, California on February 18, 1965. He was the first child of Theodore Young and Verna Young. Young’s middle name, Romelle, is derived from his father’s amateur R&B singing group, The Romells. Dr. Dre attended Centennial High School in Compton during his freshman year in 1979, but he has to transfer to Fremont High School in South Central Los Angeles due to poor grades. He also attempted to enroll in an apprenticeship program at Northrop Aviation Company, but poor grades at school made him ineligible. Thereafter, he focused on his social life and entertainment for the remainder of his high school years. Dr. Dre fathered a son, Curtis Young, born December 15, 1981, with Lisa Johnson. Curtis Young was brought up by his mother and first met his father 20 years later.
Dre began his career as a member of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru and later found fame with the influential gangsta rap group N.W.A with Eazy-E, Ice Cube, MC Ren, and DJ Yella, which popularized the use of explicit lyrics in rap to detail the violence of street life. His 1992 solo debut The Chronic, released under Death Row Records, led him to become one of the best-selling American performing artists of 1993 and to win a Grammy Award for the single “Let Me Ride.” That same year he produced Death Row labelmate Snoop Dogg’s quadruple platinum debut Doggystyle. Dre was previously the co-owner of, and an artist on, Death Row Records. He has overseen and produced albums for many rappers which include Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Xzibit, 50 Cent, The Game, and Kendrick Lamar. He is credited as a key figure in the popularization of West Coast G-funk, a style of rap music characterized as synthesizer-based with slow, heavy beats. In 1996, he left Death Row Records to establish his own label, Aftermath Entertainment. He produced a compilation album titled Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath in 1996. He then released a solo album titled 2001 in 1999. During the 2000’s, he focused on production for other artists, while occasionally contributing vocals to songs. Dr. Dre signed Eminem and 50 Cent to his record label in 1998 and 2002 respectively, while contributing production on their albums. He has won six Grammy Awards, including Producer of the Year.
He is the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and Beats Electronics. In 2014, Dr. Dre was ranked as the second richest figure in the American hip hop scene by Forbes with a net worth of $550 million. Additionally, Rolling Stone ranked Dr. Dre at 56 on their list of “100 Greatest Artists of All-Time.”
In honor of his 50th birthday and for all the success that has come his way even through the many struggles, we dedicate this week’s #FUNFACTSFRIDAY to be all about the Doc. Here’s 10 things you didn’t know about Dr. Dre:
1. He became a DJ at a young age. Once his parents split, Dr. Dre lived with his mother. Both his parents had musical roots. It was no surprise that mother used to host parties at her home. During these parties, a very young Dre, only age 4 at the time, would actually pick the songs that would play. This marked his first steps into the world of music.
2. The inspiration for “F**k Tha Police” came from Eazy-E driving around with a paintball gun. Back in March of 2007, Dre told the story of how N.W.A.’s “F**k Tha Police” all started. Dre and Eazy were driving around with a paintball gun one day as Eazy shot at people waiting at bus stops. When the cops caught them and pulled them over, they made the N.W.A. members lie face down on the ground and pointed guns at them. The incident became the inspiration for this hit “F**” Tha Police.”
3. In 1987, Eazy-E bailed Dr. Dre out of jail for parking tickets. In exchange for bailing him out, Eazy-E asked Dre to produce his debut single “Boyz-N-The-Hood.” From then on, Dr. Dre became the in-house producer for Ruthless Records, where N.W.A. would come together.
4. Music runs in the family! Warren G is Dr. Dre’s stepbrother. He’s also the one that introduced Dre to a young rapper named Snoop Dogg, who was in a group called 213 with Warren and Snoop’s cousin Nate Dogg. Warren played Dre a demo tape of 213’s music at a bachelor party in 1991. Soon after, Dre began inviting his stepbrother to studio sessions for The Chronic. His son Curtis Young is also an aspiring rapper who performs under the name Hood Surgeon.
5. “California Love” was suppose to be Dr. Dre’s first single for his album on Aftermath. but Suge Knight had other plans. He heard the song, went over to Dre’s house, and had 2Pac appear on the second verse, effectively making it his song.
6. Dr. Dre left Death Row because he didn’t like the violent atmosphere. In 1996, Dr. Dre left Death Row Records to start Aftermath Entertainment, but he was owed a reported $50 million. He walked away from the money, leading to his famous proclamation that, “You can’t put a price on a peaceful state of mind.”
7. While working on The Chronic, Dr. Dre had some friends come over to the studio. When Suge Knight walked in, he found these friends using the private phone line of Michael “Harry O” Harris, the notorious drug kingpin who helped fund Death Row.
Suge promptly attacked them and blasted a couple shots. Those visitors were George Lynwood and Stanley Lynwood, brothers who would go on to bring charges of assault and robbery against Suge Knight. Harry O himself recounted this story for a documentary called, “Welcome To Death Row: The Rise & Fall of Death Row Records.”
8. By the middle of the 1990s, Dr. Dre’s career was taking off in new and interesting directions. In 1996, he appeared in his first ever film called “Set It Off.” In the movie, he plays a character named Black Sam who buys and sells weapons.
9. Suge Knight paid a goon $5,000 to attack Dr. Dre at the 2004 Vibe Awards. Snoop Dogg and Quincy Jones were preparing to give Dr. Dre the Lifetime Achievement award when a man approached Dre asking for an autograph. He proceeded to attack Dre, though the producer wasn’t injured. In 2005, the NY Post reported that Jimmy James Johnson had been paid $5,000 by Suge to attack Dre at the award show.
10. In 2008, Dr. Dre’s 20-year-old son, Andre Young Jr., died of a drug overdose. He was found dead at Dre’s family home from an accidental overdose of heroin and morphine.