Biography: Dr. Dre

Born: Andre Romelle Young

Date of Birth: February 18, 1965

Hometown: California, Los Angeles

Dr. Dre was born Andre Romelle Young to Verna and Theodore Young in Los Angeles, California on February 18th, 1965. He grew up in Compton, raised mostly by his mother. Legend has it that Dre's middle name, "Romelle," came from his father's amateur R&B singing group The Romelles.

World Class Wreckin' Cru

Early on in his career, Dre deejayed under the alias Dr. J, a moniker inspired by his favorite basketball player, Julius "Dr. J" Irving.

His musical chops earned him a spot on the World Class Wreckin' Cru alongside DJ Yella, Shakespeare, Cli-N-Tel, and Mona Lisa. Dre became the in-house producer/DJ for the short-lived electro-pop group. Dr. Dre and DJ Yella would go on to form another group. And this time, the world would know their name. Forever.

N.W.A.: The Formative Years

N.W.A. was the brainchild of Eazy-E who linked up with Ice Cube and Dr. Dre to form the hardcore rap group. They released their self-titled first album in 1987. A year later, N.W.A. followed up with Straight Outta Compton, a vicious street classic that resonated with the frustrations of the young, black and persecuted in LA. Straight Outta Compton became an underground success with relatively no airplay. N.W.A. became notorious for the group's aggressive content.

Death Row Records

Both Dre and Cube would eventually part ways with N.W.A. over financial differences, Dr. Dre teamed up with then bodyguard Suge Knight to create Death Row Records.

Now at a label he could call home, Dre had time to focus on music once more. His debut single, "Deep Cover," from the soundtrack of the similarly-titled movie, arrived in 1992.

King of the West Coast

Dre's influence on hip-hop is vast and far-reaching. He played an major role in the G-Funk movement of the late 80s/early 90s.

He also helped propel West Coast hip-hop to new heights with his masterwork, The Chronic. Dre's funky basslines and heavy synths, coupled with a lyrical showcase from a young and inspired Snoop Dogg, changed the sound of hip-hop and made The Chronic a household name in the genre.

The Beginning of Aftermath

Dre's partnership with Suge Knight was short-lived. Infuriated by Knight's strong-arm business approach, Dre found himself on the move again.

In 1996, he started Aftermath Entertainment after striking a distribution deal with Interscope Records. He got off to a shaky start at Aftermath, releasing the mildly received Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath. A year later, Dre hooked up with The Firm (a supergroup consisting of Nas, AZ, Nature, and Foxy Brown) and produced most of the tracks on their self-titled debut.

Dr. Dre Discovers Eminem

Dre's next big break arrived when he met a Detroit rapper named Eminem. There are many variations of the story, but word has it that Dre found Eminem's demo tape in the garage of Interscope label chief Jimmy Iovine. Eminem was already making rounds in the underground circuit, having placed 2nd in the freestyle category at 1997's Rap Olympics MC Battle in Los Angeles.

Iovine approached him for a tape afterward. When he played the tape for Dre, the west coast beatsmith was impressed. He reached out to Eminem.

Shady + Aftermath = Platinum Success

Like a magician who has just discovered a new trick, Dre made Eminem a prominent fixture on his records. With Dre's production prowess and Eminem's lyrical aptitude, Aftermath would become one of the leading hip-hop labels in the world. The one-two punch of Slim Shady and Dr. Dre reminded many fans of his chemistry with Snoop. Dre and Em collaborated extensively, leading to the commercial success of albums like The Slim Shady LP, The Marshall Mathers LP and 2001.

50 Cent joined the fold a few years later. Again, with Dre at the helm, 50 became an instant star. He would go on to sell over 12 million copies of his own debut, Get Rich or Die Tryin', thanks in part to Dr. Dre's midas touch on the monstrous lead single "In Da Club."

Family Tragedy

Tragedy struck the Young family when one of Dr. Dre's sons, Andre Young Jr., was found dead in his bedroom in August 2008.

Detox

Over the course of his career, Dr. Dre has built a reputation for stressing quality over quantity. While your typical hip-hop artist may average an album a year, it takes Dre anywhere from 7 to 10 years to release an album. Meanwhile, he stays busy by crafting beats for his artists behind the scenes.

Detox, Dre's 3rd and final solo album, has remained one of the most anticipated albums over the past decade and change. When will it arrive? Only one man knows the answer to that.

Beats by Dre

One thing that has kept Dre busy and uber relevant in lieu of a new album is his headphone brand, Beats by Dre. In 2006, Dre and Interscope honcho Jimmy Iovine teamed up  to produce high-end headphones. They first Beats by Dre studio headphones launched in 2008. The Beats brand has since expanded to include a host of headphones, ear buds, speakers and a streaming service. 

On August 1, 2014, Apple acquired Beats Electronics for $3 billion, making it the largest acquisition in the company's history.

Dr. Dre's Discography

  • 1992 - The Chronic  
  • 1999 - 2001  
  • 2015 - Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre