Dr. Dre is one of rap's most elusive moguls, but thanks to the new HBO documentary series The Defiant Ones, we're getting a rare look inside his life and career - including the surprising struggle he had with releasing the landmark stoner rap album 'The Chronic' (1992).
The doctor's solo debut was a hard sell because record execs were tone deaf toward gangsta rap in the 90s, according to Step Johnson - former head of the Interscope Records' urban division. "Nobody wanted to deal with this gangsta rap thing," Johnson said in 'The Defiant Ones.'
So Dre was turned down dozens of times even though the demo he was offering up was basically same as the version that would eventually go triple platinum. "I mixed it, mastered it, did the artwork, everything," Dre said in the documentary. "The way it is in the stores right now is the way I was shopping it."
But the former N.W.A. beat-maker's persistence paid off when he connected with Interscope's Jimmy Iovine - the other star of 'The Defiant Ones' - who didn't just want to partner with Death Row Records to release 'The Chronic.' He wanted to re-brand his label with it. "I said, 'Wow! This guy will define Interscope," Iovine said in the doc.
And it redefined hip hop and cannabis culture along the way - spurring conversations about marijuana through its lyrics as well as the cover, which features Dre in an homage to Zig Zag rolling papers. Oh, and it launched the career of an unknown rapper named Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr. - a.k.a. Snoop Dogg - who would become the biggest icon in cannabis culture.
h/t Rolling Stone