His “artistic achievements and innovations” will be recognised by the Recording Academy, and even though Dre has already won 6 Grammy’s himself, it’s hard to argue that he deserves some extra special recognition for a career which began back in the 1980s.
The President of the Academy, Deborah Dugan, called Dre “an influential force in music” and noted that he “breaks boundaries and inspires music creators across every genre. His evolution as a producer solidifies him as a leader of the pack within our industry, as we watch in amazement as he continues to shape the future of music”.
Dr Dre’s music career has certainly seen it’s best days, and his well publicised business success has made him a powerful figure in the music industry. But ultimately, he will really be remembered in future decades as one of the key figures who changed the face of hip-hop.
Dre did this a number of times throughout his career.
Dr Dre’s fingerprints are all over many of the big hip-hop success stores of the last 30 years. Originally a member of the World Class Wreckin Cru in the 80s, his next move was very different as he became a key member of the world’s most dangerous hip-hop group, N.W.A., which took over the planet with a brand of gangsta rap that proved both sonically powerful and massively controversial.
Hard hitting lyrics from Ice Cube, Eazy E and MC Ren brought this notoriety, with tracks that highlighted the massive tensions in Compton that would explode further as the group got bigger.
Dr Dre was the real musical mastermind behind the project and, over a hardcore funk background, he created a sonic assault similar to what the likes of Public Enemy and others were doing at the time too. Hip-hop was already going to the next level but groups such as N.W.A. helped attract an audience of people who previously hadn’t been interested in hip-hop. It was no co-incidence that many of them were white teenagers. Middle America was horrified, and this helped make the group even more attractive in some ways to the young people of all races who bought their albums despite attempts to have them banned. 2 Live Crew and N.W.A. were massively influential on hip-hop.
Dr Dre wasn’t content there though. A high profile dissolution of N.W.A. was just the beginning for Dre, and he then went on to produce “The Chronic”, taking another left turn and shaping the real legacy of West Coast hip-hop forever.
Dre slowed the grooves and took it back to that West Coast funk that was more in the party zone, aided by some of the best MC’s in the business.
Snoop Doggy Dogg was the real star of the microphone here, and his own “Doggystyle” debut was again shaped by Dre, who also had his fingerprints all over many other classics, such as one one of the biggest rnb tunes of that era, “No Diggity”, by Blackstreet and, of course, “California Love”, by Tupac.
Dre hit a few stumbling blocks over the rest of the 90’s but it was his genius which helped Eminem get a huge breakthrough and it set Dre up for a huge return in 1999, when the “2001” album became another massive success. Eminem, Snoop, Nate Dogg and many other friends and favourites contributed to a huge success story, and Dre again showed his versatility by producing rnb classics for Mary J Blige “(Family Affair”) and Eve & Gwen Stefani (“Let me Blow Your Mind”) soon afterwards.
Dre then spearheaded the massive success of both Eminem and another new kid on the block, 50 Cent, before a decade of album delays and a final mellowing of his production success. His business success with Beats by Dre eventually followed, as did a fairly okay comeback album, but ultimately, Dre is another realm now and, like Jay Z and Diddy and others, he wields massive industry power. This is very significant, as back in the day when these guys started there were very few rappers making big money or big decisions in the boardrooms.
Dr Dre’s musical ability is what he is most respected for though, and even in the years where he wasn’t as important as a producer he was still helping nurture West Coast talent that came since, like Kendrick Lamar and Anderson Paak. He always knew what was up, and this award is very richly deserved.