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