For this episode of stndrd style, we wanted to pay homage to a legend that has revolutionized hip-hop and brought the funk from the wild, wild west to the mainstream. That artist is none other than Andre Young, also known by his nom de plume, Dr. Dre. For a producer who created so many classic hip-hop anthems such as “California Love,” “Gin and Juice” and “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” Dr. Dre has only three solo studio albums under his belt (The Chronic, Dre Dre 2001, and Compton).
In honor of Dre’s birthday, we wanted to highlight the impact that he has made on music, film and product.
The Music (G- Funk Era)
Growing up in a house that frequently played records from the Funkadelics, George Clinton and Issac Hayes, Dr. Dre was inspired by 70’s funk from birth. Dr. Dre pioneered and created a distinctive sound that created harmony with a balance of soul and funk that was like nothing at that time. He has produced classic records like “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” sampled from Leon Haywood, “Let Me Ride” sampled from Parliament and “Explosive” sampled by Soul Mann and the Brother’s. Dre’s influence from the disco and funk era is salient in his music. You have to remember this is a time where East Coast hip-hop dominated the charts with groups like A Tribe Called Quest, Pete Rock & C.L. Smooth and Digable Planets with their Jazz instrumentation. Not only was the sound from the west coast different, but even the music videos looked foreign at that time. With low riders, palm trees and tricked out bikes cruising the streets, this west coast lifestyle normally wasn’t televised or even commercialized on channels like MTV. These sounds, with the help of Snoop Dogg, Warren G and Nate Dogg, laid out the foundation for the G-Funk Era and Dr. Dre was the mastermind behind it all.
When it comes to music, Dr. Dre has dominated and broken records but I don’t think anyone was prepared for what Dr. Dre and Ice Cube had prepared for the big screen. With a few movie cameos already on his resume in films such as The Wash and Training Day, Dre used 2015 to bring his most personal story in the form of the motion picture, Straight Outta Compton. The biopic of the rap group, NWA, was just as controversial and raw as their music. The movie Straight Outta Compton attracted and enticed loyal fans of the legendary hip-hop group and also a new generation of fans grossing $60 million in its opening week and $200 million worldwide. Straight Outta Compton also became the highest grossing movie from an African-American Director—it was directed by F. Gary Gray. Potentially opening the door for other hip-hop groups to follow suit, we can thank Dr. Dre once again for proving that hip-hop can also prove to be profitable, not just in music, but in film as well.
Not only is Dr. Dre responsible for creating a West Coast sound but also for the way we listen to it thanks to Beats By Dre. Besides Apple’s signature white earpieces, no other headphone is distinguished and more recognizable than Beats by Dre, It’s no wonder why Apple later acquired them for a cool $3 Billion. The partnership was a perfect one for Dr. Dre, who is recognized as one of the elite producers of our time. He only uses the best headphones when working in the studio and that marketing tactic generated millions. Soon, you started seeing other celebrities and athletes partnering with Beats by Dre to create their own exclusive pairs. I personally can’t wait to see what Dre touches next that will undoubtedly turn into gold.
Today, we live in an age where the term “producer” is thrown around and misused by anyone who knows how to program a beat on an app. And even though hip-hop is a young man’s game, Dr. Dre is still one of the most sought out and respected producers of our time. His body of work will surely influence generations to come and will always remind us of the golden era of hip-hop. So go out and light up some candles for Dre and maybe something else if you catch my drift.