Music-versary: Happy birthday Dr. Dre!

Eminem’s Shade 45 celebrates hip-hop icon Dr. Dre with special mixes by DJ Wonder, Lord Sear, and Statik Selektah on their shows plus Dre’s biggest hits every hour throughout the day on Feb. 18.

In a moving speech at ASCAP’s 23rd annual Rhythm and Soul Music Awards in 2010 after receiving a lifetime achievement award, Dr. Dre told the audience, “I’m living an incredible life. Making a living doing what I love and having people love it. I can’t even explain what that feels like.”

Indeed Andre “Dr. Dre” Young is living an incredible life.  Over the course of his extraordinary 32-year career, he has evolved many times. DJ, producer, rapper, actor, CEO, entrepreneur, philanthropist, you name it. His life and career have been impressive and robust, and we have a feeling that there’s much more in store.

Born February 18, 1965 in Compton, California, Dre moved around frequently with his mother after his parents split up. He received a mixer for Christmas one year and began working for several hours a day on his music after creating a studio in his home.  He deejayed at an LA club where he met Antoine “DJ Yella” Carraby and began going by the name of Dr. Dre, the Master of Mixology, inspired in part by NBA star Julius “Dr. J.” Erving.  Dre eventually joined the group World Class Wreckin’ Crew with Yella and began performing and recording with the Compton-based ensemble.

But it wasn’t until Dre met O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson and Eric “Eazy-E” Wright that his life completely changed. In 1985, he formed the group N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitudes) with Yella, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and three other rappers MC Ren, Arabian Prince and the D.O.C. (the latter two would eventually leave the group). It was with N.W.A. that Dre would make music that reflected life on the streets in Compton. Sure, their lyrics were unapologetic, abrasive, and explicit, but they effectively explored the harsh realities — police brutality and racism —that each member was all too familiar with. In 1988, their iconic album Straight Outta Compton, which featured the defiant track Fuck Tha Police, sold over 2 million copies and birthed the genre “gangsta rap.”

The next few decades would solidify Dre’s stardom and include some of the biggest hits of his career. After leaving NWA in 1991, he released The Chronic album a year later on Death Row Records with Suge Knight as the executive producer. With hits such as Nuthin But a G Thang (featuring then little-known rapper Snoop Dogg), Let Me Ride, and Dre Day, The Chronic went three-times platinum and has been lauded as one of the best albums in hip-hop history.  Dre released his second solo album in 1999, titled 2001, on his new label Aftermath, and won a Grammy for Producer of Year. The album has since sold over 7 million copies.

Over the years, Dre has been instrumental in the careers of Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and 50 Cent and has produced tracks for many artists, including Jay Z, Tupac Shakur, Nas, Mary J. Blige, and Gwen Stefani.

He has also contributed music to several movie soundtracks including Friday, Kingdom Come, and The Wash (in which he also starred).

In 2008, Dre founded Beats Electronic with record producer Jimmy Iovine and released the hugely popular and beloved Beats by Dre Studio headphones. In 2014, Dre sold Beats for $3 billion to Apple (the largest acquisition in the tech giant’s history) and increased his net worth to roughly $800 million.  He and Lovine — with whom he also runs the Jimmy Lovine and Andre Young Academy for Arts, Technology and the Business of Innovation — now hold executive roles at Apple.

Last August, Dre enjoyed even more success after the release of the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton. The movie did extremely well at the box office and inspired Dre’s third album Compton: A Soundtrack.

In 2013, Dre told Esquire, “I believe in reincarnation, and I believe I’ve lived quite a few lives.” Indeed he has, and it’ll be interesting to see his next one.

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