You Say It’s Your Birthday: Dr. Dre

Last year Dre left Death Row behind.

Today is the birthday of rapper Dr. Dre (given name: Andre
Young), who was born in 1965. Once a member of the gangsta-rap outfit N.W.A,
Dre has gone on to enjoy a successful career as a solo rap artist. But his true
claim to fame is as, arguably, rap’s greatest producer. His own album The
as well as Snoop Dog’s debut, Doggystyle, are the
mindblowing work of a major talent.

Dre’s good luck began when he met up
with the very-middle-class O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson and discovered the two
shared a love of writing rock songs; they began penning raps for Eric “Eazy-E”
Wright, who had formed Ruthless Records with money raised during his early
drug-peddling days. Eazy’s record label rejected one tune, “Boyz-n-the-Hood,”
and the trio chose to record the song independently, calling themselves Niggaz
With Attitude.

Cube took time off to study drafting, but returned to the
group in 1988 to work with them on their definitive work, Straight Outta
. The album contained a controversial piece called “Fuck Tha Police”
which earned them a warning letter from the FBI as well as much media
notoriety. Cube left the group for a solo career and NWA released a second
full-length album, 1991’s Efil4zaggin.

Like Cube, Eazy-E and Dr.
Dre embarked on solo projects, occasionally tangling with the law along the
way. Dre was arrested in 1991 for assaulting a rap-show host; Eazy-E had
meanwhile been diagnosed with AIDS. The future looked bleak for NWA, but Dre’s
solo album The Chronic was selling well. And he produced Snoop Doggy
Dogg’s Doggystyle. Sadly, Eazy-E succumbed to AIDS in 1995, but Cube and
Dre enjoy continued success. Dre formed his own record company, Aftermath, last
year; the debut release was Dr. Dre Presents: The Aftermath, a
compilation album introducing a batch of new Dre discoveries.

birthdays: Yoshimi (Yokota) Burton-Lewis (Boredoms), Dennis DeYoung (Styx),
Juice Newton, Randy Crawford, Derek Pellici (Little River Band), Robbie Bachman
(Bachman-Turner Overdrive), John Travolta and Yoko Ono. — Beth