I’m not sure how many of you have had a chance to check out Vibe‘s 15th Anniversary issue, which has hit the stands in New York, but might not be out everywhere else. I think this could be the best issue of an urban mag I’ve read in a few years, they really hit it out the park- interviews with Eminem, Ice Cube, 50 Cent, Shaq, Tyler Perry, Diddy, the list goes on and on- and who can forget the great cover story on a legend, Jay-Z, by a legend, Elliott Wilson (also peep Sean Fennessey’s incredible songography on Hov, documenting every song the guy has ever made).
There’s also an interview with Dr. Dre, a rarity these days, and I love you all so much that I’m basically retyping the entire thing word for word, which is a pretty time-consuming process. But I wanted to share it that much.
“The Original Hit Man” by Oliver Wang
Producer is an inadequate label for Andre “Dr. Dre” Young. In addition to personally changing hip-hop’s sound at least three time, first with N.W.A, then with his solo debut, The Chronic (Deathrow/Interscope, 1992), and then again with [Chronic 2001] (Aftermath/Interscope, 1999), he’s also shepherded three of rap’s biggest stars, ever- Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and 50 Cent- to pop superstardom. While Dr. Dre, 43, is a cultural force and a kingmaker, in his heart, he’s still a producer; from the fury of N.W.A’s 1988 “—- tha Police,” to the serpentine funk of his 1992 “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang,” to the tongue-in-cheek charm of Eminem’s 1999 “My Name Is” and the irresistible bump of 50 Cent’s 2003 “In da Club,” his music defines at least one, if not two generations. In July, Dre check in from– where else?– the studio, where he’s currently “three-fourths the way done” with his long, long-awaited Detox.
What were you doing in 1993?
Dr. Dre: Working on Snoop’s introduction album, Doggystyle.
You’ve had many hits, but you’ve also made stars of other artists. Luck, or labor?
The luck comes in by just meeting these people. These guys are talented as shit. They make me look good, you know what I mean? Once the luck passes, the labor comes in– and it’s definitely a lot of work.
Producing music, developing talent– do you draw on the same skill set?
It’s different. The music doesn’t talk back [laughs].
What’s the key to your track record?
I don’t take any shorts. I don’t say, “Okay, it’s good enough.” I try to get exactly what I’m hearing in my head to the tape, and I won’t let it move until then. In my opinion, some of the hip-hop records that come out, people are willing to compromise. I’m not.
Nineteen ninety-three was also the year after The Chronic. Did you anticipate the overwhelming response?
To be perfectly honest, I wasn’t sure. Before I got with Interscope, I recorded the entire album, artwork and everything and went into almost every label, and everybody was slamming doors on my, talking about, “This isn’t hip-hop; you’re using live instruments.” It had me second-guessing myself. I remember being on my balcony with Nate Dogg, listening to my record like, Is this shit good or not? I had no idea it would do what it did.
Do you see that as your defining effort?
I don’t feel like I’ve made my best record yet. The Marshall Mathers LP got the closest, but I don’t feel like I’ve hit that thing just 100 percent perfect, from the first note to the last note. I always use Quincy Jones as an example– he didn’t make his biggest record until he was 50 and he started when he was 14. So I feel like I have a lot of room to get that thing done.
Is “100 percent” achievable?
I’m not sure. But it’s definitely going to be a fun ride trying.
Also: R.I.P. to legendary producer Jerry Wexler, who passed away at age 91. Stax loses another legend. A retrospective on him is soon to come as well.