Dr. Dre first took the music world by storm in the ’80s as part of the legendary gangster rap group N.W.A. The black-clad, scowling members of the group created a moral panic with their gritty tales about gang life in Compton, Calif.
But just a few years before, Dre wasn’t so scary. He was simply a member of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru, a hip-hop/R&B group that performed Morris Day and the Time-style dance routines in shimmery jackets.
For his part, Dre rocked less-than-intimidating mock overalls — and even a comic stethoscope, to fit his doctor persona.
In his new book “Parental Discretion Is Advised: The Rise of N.W.A. and the Dawn of Gangsta Rap,” journalist Gerrick D. Kennedy dives into the group, who were active between 1983 and 1988 and enjoyed a reasonable amount of success on the West Coast. They toured extensively, and even signed to Epic for their 1986 album “Rapped in Romance.”
But their biggest successes were with the ladies.
“Being the group leader, having my own house and owning nightclubs in Los Angeles kind of gave me Hugh Hefner status,” vocalist Alonzo Williams tells The Post. After a World Class Wreckin’ Cru show, his pad was the place to be.
“People would take a room and come out a few minutes later. Everybody was in a rush back then — it was more about quantity than quality.” For his fellow Cru-mates, DJ Yella and Dre, “it would be nothing to have three or four women in a night,” he adds.
Although he enjoyed the fringe benefits of being in the group, Dre was still eager to make a name for himself and used the Cru to hone his skills.
“Some of the music is a little silly looking back, but it’s cool to see how Dre is beginning to express his talent,” Kennedy tells The Post. “You can get the sense that Dre had an ear for sampling and scratching.”
As hip-hop slowly rose to prominence during the decade, Dre was feeling suffocated by the group and its music. He needed a fresh outlet — and he found it, thanks to a trip to jail.
In exchange for bail money, Dre agreed to work on beats for his friend Ruthless Eric “Eazy-E” Wright’s fledgling label. That trade-off would lead to a huge shift in music culture: Eazy, Dre, and Yella would eventually joined forces with Ice Cube and MC Ren to form the classic N.W.A. lineup. Their albums “Straight Outta Compton” (1988) and “N—-z4Life” (1991) were both released on Ruthless.
But Dre seems mildly embarrassed about the Cru these days. He rarely comments on the group in general, and in HBO’s 2017 documentary series, “The Defiant Ones,” he refers to the 1984 track “Surgery” as “corny.”
“It became a homophobic punchline because they wore mascara and those sorts of things,” says Kennedy. “I think there was a lot of shame attached to him because the genre was so based on street credibility.” When N.W.A. split acrimoniously in 1991, Eazy was especially hard on Dre, referring to him as “f-g with a stethoscope” on the 1993 diss track “It’s On.”
Almost three decades later, Dre is a music mogul. His production work is unparalleled, he’s mentored the likes of Eminem and Snoop Dogg and founded the lucrative Beats by Dre headphones company, now owned by Apple. Forbes estimates his current net worth at $740 million.
And to think that it all began with cheesy outfits and even cheesier hairstyles.
Date Posted: Saturday, December 9th, 2017 , Total Page Views: 963
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