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

Chronic 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

Compton. 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.

Other

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

Winegarner