Dr. Dre

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Dr Dre is Widely regarded as the chief architect of west coast gangsta rap. Born Andre Young, 18 February 1965, South Central, Los Angeles, USA, Dre's musical career began as a DJ at an LA dance club. He spliced up a mix of new records with classic soul tracks like Martha And The Vandellas. He recorded demos in a small back room of the club with a four-track studio together with future NWA member Yella and Lonzo Williams. The first of these was "Surgery", a basic electro track with a chorus of "Calling Dr Dre to surgery". It was during these sessions that Dre learned the turntable teqniques he would later bring to NWA after forming The World Class Wreckin Cru at the age of 17.

The success of Dre's 1992 solo debut, The Chronic, confirmed raps commercial breakthrough. Spending 8 months in the Billboard top 10 It also signalled a change in tack by modern gangsta rappers. The music now took its cue from the funk of George Clinton and Funkadelic.

Like many of rap's leading lights, Dre never strayed far from controversy, even after he bought his luxury home in San Fernando Valley. As if to reinstate himself as a "true gangsta", he waged a war of attrition with authority. Television host Dee Barnes filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against him for allegedly attacking her in a Hollywood nightclub in 1991. He was also convicted of breaking the jaw of a record producer. Dre complained bitterly about restraint of trade and moneys owed, cursed Ruthless' General Manager Jerry Heller, and finally managed to find a deal with Jimmy Iovine at Interscope Records, who let him set up his own label, Death Row Records, co-founded with Marion "Suge" Knight.

Death Row Records was briefly one of America's most powerful labels but by 1996 its well documented problems culminated in Dre leaving to form his own Aftermath Records label.

The label's first release was a various artists compilation, whose stand-out track was Dre's declamatory hit single "Been There Done That", a kiss-off to gangsta rap and Death Row. In 1998, Dre was back in the news again as co-producer on his protege Eminem's controversial breakthrough album, The Slim Shady LP. The following November he released his highly anticipated sophomore collection, Dr. Dre 2001. Featuring collaborations with Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Mary J. Blige and Xzibit, the album was a highly effective reminder of Dre's pre-eminence in the world of gangsta rap.

Dr. Dre has also appeared in several feature films, including Training Day (2001), as well as documentary films about rap.