Andre Romelle Young was born “straight outta Compton,” as the saying goes. Both of his parents were musicians, his mother Verna was a singer for a group called “The Four Aces,” but she retired when Dre was born. His father was also a singer for the Romells, which is where Dre’s middle name comes from.
His parents split up shortly after his birth, and Dre lived with his mother. She remarried a few times throughout his life, and they moved frequently as a result. All throughout his schooling, Dre knew he wanted to focus on music.
So he began hanging out at a night club in Los Angeles called Eve After Dark. There, he got his first gig working the turntables for the dance floor. He soon joined “World Class Wrecking Cru,” a group of djs that performed for local clubs.
He formed NWA with Eazy-E, Ice Cube and MC Ren in 1985. He pushed the limits of his sound with hard lyrics that explored the harsh realities of life in a West Coast ghetto. The song “F*** the Police” became an anthem of race tensions in LA, and was long thought to incite violence against the police. The FBI even sent a warning letter to the record label’s parent company after the song was released.
By 1992, Dre had gone out on his own. His breakout hit The Chronic, began a long and illustrious career in hip hop. Dre would discover Eminem and Fifty Cent, and he was one of the first rappers to turn record executive. He formed Beats by Dre in 2008, before it was purchased by Apple in 2014. He is one of hip-hop’s richest people thanks to his tireless enthusiasm for the art of music.