Andre Romelle Young (born February 18, 1965), primarily known by his stage name Dr. Dre, is an American record producer, rapper, record executive, and actor. He is the founder and current CEO of Aftermath Entertainment and a former co-owner and artist of Death Row Records, also having produced albums for and overseeing the careers of many rappers signed to those record labels, such as Snoop Dogg, Eminem and 50 Cent. As a producer he is credited as a key figure in the popularization of West Coast G-funk, a style of rap music characterized as synthesizer-based with slow, heavy beats.
Dr. Dre began his career in music as a member of the World Class Wreckin' Cru and he later found fame with the influential gangsta rap group N.W.A with Eazy-E and Ice Cube which popularized the use of explicit lyrics in rap to detail the violence of street life. His 1992 solo debut, The Chronic, released under Death Row Records, led him to become one of the best-selling American performing artists of 1993 and to win a Grammy Award for the single "Let Me Ride". In 1996, he left Death Row to establish his own label, Aftermath Entertainment. Under that label, he produced a compilation album titled Dr. Dre Presents the Aftermath in 1996, and released a solo album titled 2001 in 1999, for which he won the Grammy producer's award the next year.
During the 2000s, he focused his career on production for other artists, while occasionally contributing vocals to other artists' songs. Dr. Dre signed Eminem and 50 Cent to his record label in 1996 and 2003 respectively while contributing production on their albums. They have both gone on to become some of the biggest names in hip hop in the 2000s. Rolling Stone named Dr. Dre among the highest-paid performers of 2001 and 2004. Dr. Dre has also had acting roles in movies such as Set It Off, and the 2001 films The Wash and Training Day.
The first child of Theodore and Verna Young, Dr. Dre was born André Romelle Young on February 18, 1965, when his mother and father were ages 16 and 17. Verna married Theodore in 1964. Young's middle name, "Romelle," came from his father's unsigned amateur R&B singing group, The Romells. In 1968, his parents divorced, and his mother later married Curtis Crayon. They had three more children together, two sons named Jerome and Tyree (both deceased) and daughter Shameka.
In 1976 Young began attending Vanguard Junior High School but due to gang violence around Vanguard he transferred to the safer suburban Roosevelt Junior High School. Verna later married Warren Griffin, whom she met at her new job in Long Beach, which added three new stepsisters and one new stepbrother to the family. That stepbrother, Warren Griffin III, would eventually become a rapper under the stage name Warren G.
Young attended Centennial High School in Compton during his freshman year in 1979, but transferred to Fremont High School due to poor grades. Young attempted to enroll at Northrop Aviation Company in an apprenticeship program, but poor grades at school made him ineligible. Thereafter, he focused on his social life and entertainment for the remainder of his high school years. Young fathered a son, Curtis, born December 15, 1981, with Lisa Johnson. Curtis Young was brought up by his mother and didn't meet his father until Curtis had become a rapper about 20 years later, with his stage name being Hood Surgeon.
Dr. Dre's second solo album, 2001, released on November 16, 1999, was considered an ostentatious return to his gangsta rap roots. It was initially titled The Chronic 2000 to imply being a sequel to his debut solo effort The Chronic but was re-titled 2001 after Death Row Records released an unrelated compilation album with the title Chronic 2000: Still Smokin in May 1999. Other tentative titles included The Chronic 2001 and Dr. Dre. The album featured numerous collaborators, including Devin the Dude, Hittman, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit, Nate Dogg and Eminem. Stephen Thomas Erlewine of the website Allmusic described the sound of the album as "adding ominous strings, soulful vocals, and reggae" to Dr. Dre's style. The album was highly successful, charting at number two on the Billboard 200 charts and has since been certified six times platinum, validating a recurring theme on the album: Dr. Dre was still a force to be reckoned with, despite the lack of major releases in the previous few years. The album included popular hit singles "Still D.R.E." and "Forgot About Dre", both of which Dr. Dre performed on NBC's Saturday Night Live on October 23, 1999. Dr. Dre won the Grammy Award for Producer of the Year in 2000, and joined the Up in Smoke Tour with fellow rappers Eminem, Snoop Dogg, and Ice Cube that year as well.
During the course of 2001's popularity, Dr. Dre was involved in several lawsuits. Lucasfilm Ltd., the film company behind the Star Wars film franchise, sued him over the use of the THX-trademarked "Deep Note". The Fatback Band also sued Dr. Dre over alleged infringement regarding its song "Backstrokin'" in his song "Let's Get High" from the 2001 album; Dr. Dre was ordered to pay $1.5 million to the band in 2003. The online music file-sharing company Napster also settled a lawsuit with him and heavy metal rock band Metallica in the summer of 2001, agreeing to block access to certain files that artists do not want to have shared on the network