Dr. Dre is as well-known for his achievements as a record producer as he is for his achievements as a rapper and hip hop artist. Originally from Compton, he helped to establish a number of big names in West Coast rap. He was the one who discovered Snoop Dogg, and he also signed artists such as Eminem and 50 Cent. In addition to these discoveries, Dre was the one who helped to create G-funk (or “gangsta funk”) as a result of his penchant for sampling the music of Parliament and Funkadelic in his rap songs.
Before Dre’s tenure with the rap group N.W.A., gangsta rap was not nearly as popular. Rap music released prior to their fame was not as explicit, nor did it deal as commonly with street violence. However, when Dre joined the group alongside rappers such as Ice Cube, DJ Yella, MC Ren and Eazy-E, they began to change the face of rap music in the late 1980s and early 1990s.
By 1992, he was ready to establish a solo career, and within a year he became a Grammy-winner and one of the highest-selling recording artists in the United States. In his early singles such as “Let Me Ride,” “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” and “Natural Born Killaz,” he made use of the production methods that he had perfected during his time with N.W.A. He was known for frequently changing the beat during the course of a song in order to keep things fresh, and he demonstrated his ability to layer a wide array of instruments in each song while pulling samples from other music that always felt appropriate for the song at hand.
Dre’s production capabilities were also evident in his work with other artists, such as “California Love” by Tupac Shakur, “3 Kings” by Rick Ross, and the songs Dre did with Eminem such as “Forgot About Dre,” “Encore,” “Crack a Bottle” and “Old Time’s Sake.” He worked with so many other artists that it can be difficult to keep his own repertoire straight without making mention of the numerous rappers he’s influenced.
While much of Dre’s real influence occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, he continued to release hit songs right up to the start of the new millennium. His 1999 album, 2001, is considered to be a follow-up to his first solo album, The Chronic. It contains the song “Xxplosive,” which includes drum beats appropriate for a gangsta rap single while also including a sound highly influenced by early soul music. Hip hop artist Kanye West has stated that this song is responsible for his overall music style. In other words, Dre put out music more than a dozen years ago that is still influencing recording artists today.
Since the release of 2001, Dre has spent much more time working as a producer than as a rapper. That is not to say, however, that he never takes the mic when a fellow artists requests his help on a song. He has also released a few singles in recent years, such as “I Need a Doctor” featuring Eminem and Skylar Grey in 2011. This song was said to be from the still-unreleased studio album, Detox. Given that Detox has now been renamed to Donezo and is still unreleased despite rumors that it has been in production since 2001, it would appear that Dre is not taking his retirement lightly. He intends to go out with a bang.
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