Once signed to Dr. Dre’s former label, Death Row, under Suge Knight’s regime, Crooked I never got to work hands on with the super producer on an album. Still, as one of the West Coast’s premiere lyricists, Crooked understands the impact Dre has had on the game. From the birth of gangsta rap as part of N.W.A to the Death Row hey days to Aftermath’s musical empire, the O.G. beatsmith is responsible for launching the careers of stars like Eminem, Game and 50 Cent and producing a catalog of classic material.
Crooked I, along with newcomers Jay Rock and Kida, recently jumped on producer Focus’ “Homage to Dr. Dre,” in a salute to Andre Young’s genius. As XXLMag.com’s celebration of the 10th anniversary of Dre’s seminal release, 2001, concludes (be sure to read Game‘s, Jay Rock’s, Warren G‘s and Nipsey Hussle‘s interviews) Crooked I shares his thoughts on the Dre’s outstanding legacy.
I used to go watch Dre DJ when I was a kid and my older brother used to take me to see him DJ. He used to use three turntables and get crazy. That was right when N.W.A was starting and ever since then he’s had a big impact on my career. I been following him.
To me, Dr. Dre is an icon, which is something more than a superstar… He went to Ruthless and he helped build an empire. He went to Death Row, he built an empire. He went to Aftermath, built and empire. How many people have three rings, so to speak, in hip-hop? Some people only get one run in this industry. He’s on his third run, so that’s highly inspirational.
I was in the studio a while back with Irv Gotti and you know they had their little differences—Aftermath and Murder Inc. and all that—but Irv told me, “Yo, man, if I saw Dr. Dre walking down the street I would salute him.” He was like, “Matter of fact, if Detox came out I would go and buy the first copy available and sit like an old hip-hop kid and open it up and read all the credits and who did what and what the production is, who mixed what…”
What Dr. Dre needs to know is, people, even the ones that you think are the least likely to be waiting on Detox, are waiting on Detox. That album is like a myth but I’ve been inside the studio and I’ve heard some of the bangers. Right now, he could drop 10 Detox’s. (Laughs).
You know what’s so interesting to me? Dre’s a perfectionist and I don’t know if he’s not comfortable with all of the heat that he has but the work is there. The stuff I heard is bangin’. If he didn’t want to use it, he could give it to me and I’ll go 20x platinum with it (Laughs). 2001 was phenomenal and I just want to hear some more of that good music coming from the West. —As told to Brooklyne Gipson