I had the pleasure of getting to see an early screening of Straight Outta Compton last week, the biopic about N.W.A. that currently boasts an impressive 92% Rotten Tomatoes score and that I thoroughly enjoyed. Of course, one of the main characters depicted was Andre "Dr. Dre" Young, who was played by Corey Hawkins.
Dre has amassed tremendous wealth since the days that he grew up in Compton, California. He just released an album called "Compton" that you can find on iTunes now... the royalties that the album earns are going directly to a brand new performing arts center in Compton, so check it out and maybe purchase it, knowing it's for a good cause.
At this point in time, Dre doesn't need that money. After his $500 million deal with Apple, who purchased his music software and hardware company 'Beats,' he's doing okay on the dollars front. However, it wasn't always that way. Not at all, as you'll learn from the film.
Dr. Dre was born in 1965, to a 16-year-old Verna Young. It wasn't very common to get pregnant so young back then, so her friends and family were very close to pushing her towards getting an abortion. Thank God she didn't, we now have the Chronic album.
She stuck to her decision to have Dre, and Dre no doubt carried that with him growing up and into his more successful later years. He literally wasn't supposed to be on this planet, potentially. But he was born and made his definite mark on the world.
You'll see in the film that he certainly got into it with his mother quite a bit. She kicked him out of the house when he was becoming too reliant on music to keep his interest piqued. She didn't think he would make money pursuing a career in that, so she told him to go. He was crashing on fellow musicians' and friends' couches for a long time. He had a hunger for more than what he was given.
He let his grades slip, mostly because he had a vision that the music was going to be it for him. He knew he was good. He knew all it took was following through. And let's be honest, he was one of the main reasons N.W.A. developed such a great sound.
He wanted to prove to his friends and family that he was worth a damn in this world. It came at many tragic costs, though. His younger half-brother, Tyree, really looked up to Dre. He was caught up in street violence and died while Dre was on tour with N.W.A. in 1990. He would later make tribute song "The Message" in his honor.
Not to mention, when Dre was just a fresh 1-year-old tyke, his other brother Jerome also died of pneumonia. I think Dre was an intelligent and creative being who only knew one thing -- he wanted to get out of Compton.
He took what he learned from growing up there and made something out of himself through that perspective. When survival is the first thing on one's mind, it's hard to develop any tangible skills. But Dre did just that.
He would later go on to spawn the careers of Warren G., Snoop Dogg and Eve of Destruction, and has collaborated with a variety of artists, including 50 Cent, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and The Game.
There would be a lot of later drama with some of those that he worked with in the industry, and he would lose his son to a shattering drug overdose in 2008. It's just further proof that even after you've "made it," life is still going to be life.
Tupac Shakur, once a good friend and collaborator of Dre's had a quote about a "rose that grew from the concrete... don't ask me why... ask me how." It's an interesting take. People don't choose their circumstances. They take what they're given and make the most of it. That's exactly what Dre did. Respect.
Oh, and the movie is fucking incredible, by the way. Go see it.