He was raised in Compton, and got his nickname by adoring basketball superstar, Dr. J. His step-brother is Warren G. His brother got killed in a fight while Dre was on tour with N.W.A "My brother was my best friend. He was three years younger than me." Dre tells of being on the road when he received a phone call with the bad news. "You never forget that."
He started off as a D.J for parties as a teenager, and soon earned himself a spot in the "Eve After Dark" club, where he would play keyboards and sing.
Once a member of the rather anonymous group, "World Class Wreckin' Cru", Dre earned himself a name by producing tracks for Eazy-E, the D.O.C and others, and later became a gangsta rap pioneer as a co-founder, member, co-producer and rapper in the controversial group, N.W.A. (Niggaz With Attitude).
The band was extremely successful and was very promoted by endless scandals and unfettered messages of street violence. The debut album (Straight Outta compton) went platinum with minimal radio play, the second LP entered the charts at number one. "We loved the controversy. It's the reason we blew up as big as we did. It wasn't hurting us, it was helping us."
The group disbanded in '91, but Dre didn't stop for a second:
He established Death Row Records along with Marion "Suge" Knight, and shortly after released "The Chronic" (1992), which sold over three million copies, won two Grammy Awards, and is still considered to be one of the most influential rap albums ever.
The album introduced the new Death Row artists, such as Snoop Doggy Dogg and Tha Dogg Pound, and marked Dr. Dre not only as one of the most creative producers in the rap/hip-hop industry, but also as a fantastic rapper.
The following Death Row album, Snoop Doggy Dogg's "Doggystyle", was produced by Dr. Dre, and sold four million copies.
"I was trying to take it places no other record company had ever been," he says.
"Not just limiting myself to R&B and hip hop. I wanted to branch off into jazz, reggae,
and black rock 'n' roll."
In 1994 he directed the short film "Murder Was The Case", and co-produced the soundrack. He also added a song to the soundtrack entitled "Natural Born Killaz", which marked the reunion with former fellow band member, Ice Cube. That was his last work with protege Snoop Doggy Dogg. He decided that Snoop, who didn't make a single step without his mentor, should stick to his own work. In that same year he released a compilation album, entitled "Concrete Roots", which contained some old and some newer material.
In 1995 Dre contributed a track for the "Friday" soundtrack, "Keep Their Heads Ringin'". The track was a massive success, and won Dre the MTV "Best Rap Song" award in '96.
In that same year he left Death Row, and started his own label, "Aftermath Entertainment", a joint venture with Interscope Records.