Dr. Dre

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Dr. Dre : biography

February 18, 1965 –

After Ice Cube left N.W.A in 1989 over financial disputes, Dr. Dre produced and performed for much of the group’s second album Efil4zaggin. He also produced tracks for a number of other rap acts on Ruthless Records, including Above the Law, and The D.O.C. for his 1989 album No One Can Do It Better. In 1991, at a music industry party in Hollywood, he assaulted television host Dee Barnes of the Fox television program Pump it Up, feeling dissatisfied with a news report of hers regarding the feud between the remaining N.W.A members and Ice Cube. Thus, Dr. Dre was fined $2,500 and given two years’ probation and 240 hours of community service, as well as a spot on an anti-violence public service announcement on television.

1992–96: The Chronic and Death Row Records

After a dispute with Eazy-E, Dre left the group at the peak of its popularity in 1991 under the advice of friend, and N.W.A lyricist, The D.O.C. and his bodyguard at the time, Suge Knight. Knight, a notorious strongman and intimidator, was able to have Eazy-E release Young from his contract and, using Dr. Dre as his flagship artist, founded Death Row Records. In 1992 Young released his first single, the title track to the film Deep Cover, a collaboration with rapper Snoop Dogg, whom he met through Warren G. Dr. Dre’s debut solo album was The Chronic, released under Death Row Records. Young ushered in a new style of rap, both in terms of musical style and lyrical content.

On the strength of singles such as "Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang", "Let Me Ride", and "Fuck wit Dre Day (and Everybody’s Celebratin’)" (known as "Dre Day" for radio and television play), all of which featured Snoop Dogg as guest vocalist, The Chronic became a cultural phenomenon, its G-funk sound dominating much of hip hop music for the early 1990s. In 1993 the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified the album triple platinum, and Dr. Dre also won the Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance for his performance on "Let Me Ride".{} For that year, Billboard magazine also ranked Dr. Dre as the eighth best-selling musical artist, The Chronic as the sixth best-selling album, and "Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang" as the 11th best-selling single.

Besides working on his own material, Dr. Dre produced Snoop Dogg’s debut album Doggystyle, which became the first debut album for an artist to debut at number one on the Billboard 200 album charts. In 1994 Dr. Dre produced some songs on the soundtracks to the films Above the Rim and Murder Was the Case. He collaborated with fellow N.W.A member Ice Cube for the song "Natural Born Killaz" in 1995. For the film Friday, Dre recorded "Keep Their Heads Ringin’", which reached number ten on the Billboard Hot 100 and number 1 on the Hot Rap Singles (now Hot Rap Tracks) charts.{}

In 1995, Death Row Records signed rapper 2Pac, and began to position him as their major star: he collaborated with Dr. Dre on the commercially successful single "California Love", which became both artists’ first song to top the Billboard Hot 100. However, in early 1996 Young left the label amidst a contract dispute and growing concerns that label boss Suge Knight was corrupt, financially dishonest and out of control. Later that year, he formed his own label, Aftermath Entertainment, under the distribution label for Death Row Records, Interscope Records. Subsequently, Death Row Records suffered poor sales by 1997, especially following the death of 2Pac and the racketeering charges brought against Knight.

Dr. Dre also appeared on the single "No Diggity" by R&B group Blackstreet in 1996: it too was a sales success, topping the Hot 100 for four consecutive weeks, and later won the award for Best R&B Vocal by a Duo or Group at the 1997 Grammy Awards. After hearing it for the first time, several of Dr. Dre’s former Death Row colleagues, including 2Pac, recorded and attempted to release a song titled "Toss It Up", containing numerous insults aimed at Dr. Dre and using a deliberately similar instrumental to "No Diggity", but were forced to replace the production after Blackstreet issued the label with a cease and desist order stopping them from distributing the song.