When a hip-hop head mentions Dre, there is no further conversation needed. In hip-hop circles, Dr. Dre needs no introduction. He is a super producer, an artist extraordinaire, who has helped build the careers of some of the biggest names in music. Being the talent that he is, few find the need to check his insight.
But when news broke that Dre once rejected opportunities to work with Prince and Michael Jackson, some were intrigued. Undoubtedly trying to understand such a decision “Kept Their Heads Ringing,” However, there’s no longer any need to ponder. Dre recently made his rationale clear.
The Artistry of Dr. Dre
Dre has spent most of his life immersed in hip-hop. According to Hip-Hop Scriptures, Dre began spinning records as a teenager. And it wasn’t long before Dre was perfecting his craft, earning him the alias “The Master of Mixology,” But It was with the emergence of N.W.A. that the young phenom became a household name. Not only did this supergroup break the mold, but they ushered in an entirely new form of artistic expression. As Hip-hop Scriptures note,
“The group’s second album, Straight Outta Compton (1988), sold over 2 million copies and marked a new genre—gangsta rap.”
An Enterprising Giant
Dre was only scratching the surface with N.W.A. He had much more to show the world because he was built for more. In 1991, Dre pivoted in a slightly different direction, co-founding the legendary Death Row Records. These were his proving grounds where he worked with the talents of Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur.
It was apparent that Dre had a magic ear and an entrepreneurial fever. In 1996 he formed Aftermath Entertainment, where he would help develop top-tier talent. Under that label, he signed 50 Cent and Eminem. Of course, these aren’t the only industry greats that Dre has worked with.
Dre has also had opportunities to collaborate with those outside of hip-hop, including Rick James and George Clinton. But working with Clinton is no surprise, as Clinton once said in an interview that he “knew Dr. Dre when he was a teenager hanging out in a teenage club, and there wasn’t no N.W.A. or nobody,”
Dre. Turns Down the G.O.A.T’s
However, there are two prominent figures, although approached, that Dre rejected, Michael Jackson and Prince. For many, that is astounding. When an artist’s name is mentioned in conjunction with Jackson and Prince, it shows how proficient one has become in one’s field. Thus, most would find it unimaginable to reject such an opportunity.
The possibility of collaboration with such greats is an incredible honor. So why would Dre decline their invitation? The super talent recently told all on a segment of Kevin Hart’s “Hart to Hart.”
A Man with Direction
Dr. Dre acknowledges he did indeed reject both Prince and Michael Jackson. Working with them was outside his wheelhouse. As he exclaimed in his interview, “I just [was like] damn, what the f*** am I going to do with them?”
While this may sound ludicrous to some, it makes perfect sense to others. Although it would have been an honor, Dre knew who he was and what he did best. He mentions several times how he looked up to those figures as heroes. But in his words, “My entire life and career have been dealing and working with new artists. That’s what I like. It’s a ball of clay when they walk into the room. Just form it and do what you want; that’s what I want.”
And no one can knock that.
Bringing It All Together
Dre is a consummate professional and perfectionist. He does what he does and does it well. In this case, the proof is evidentiary. While it would have been nice to work with Jackson and Prince. He was self-assured about what he wanted to do in the industry. Working with established artists wasn’t his niche.
Dr. Dre is intelligent and has a strong business sense, something many could learn from. So, the best conclusion one could offer regarding this matter is to echo the words of a Tupac classic, “We Ain’t Mad At ‘Cha.”
Written by Renae Richardson