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Dr. Dre was born Andre Romelle Young on February 18, 1965 in Compton, California to young parents who divorced by the time he was 8 years old. Growing up, his mom moved him from school to school in attempt to keep Dre away from the gang violence that permeated South Central Los Angeles. Although Dre did not take much of an interest in school, he did find an interest in music and frequently performed as a DJ at local hip-hop clubs.
In 1984, he formed the World Class Wrecking Cru. It wasn’t long before he met O’Shea “Ice Cube” Jackson and Eric “Eazy-E” Wright. The trio went on to form Niggaz With Attitude which became known as N.W.A. The group permanently transformed hip-hop by introducing mainstream America to the street violence they all had witnessed growing up in the hood.
Despite the groups second album Straight Outta Compton being successful enough to sell 750,000 copies, it was not without controversy. The infamous track “F*&$ tha Police,” earned the group’s distributor, Priority Records, a warning letter from the FBI. Despite the controversy that continued to surround the group, their second album EFIL4ZAGGIN reached Number One on the charts just two weeks after its release.
In 1992, Dre left N.W.A. and co-founded Death Row Records with Suge Knight. The first album Dre helped produce with the label, Snoop Dogg’s The Chronic, went triple platinum and earned Dre a Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance. Dre continued to have many successes serving as house producer for Death Row for a few years.
In 1998, Dre broke the mold by signing white rapper Eminem and helping the rapper’s debut album, The Slim Shady LP, sell more than four million copies in the United States.
In 2001, Dre released his second solo album, 2001. The album earned Dre the Producer of the Year award at the 2000 Grammys and sold millions of copies.
Although Dre has had many successes as an artist, he is most revered for helping launch the careers of multiple hip-hop and rap artists and solidifying his place as a hip hop mogul by co-founding Beats Electronics in 2008. Apples $3 billion purchase of Beats in May 2014 made Dre the richest rap star according to Forbes.
Check out the following video to learn more about how Dre was able to rise from growing up poor in Compton to being one of the most successful hip-hop moguls of all time.