Title(s): Co-founder of Death Row Records, Founder of Aftermath Records
Artists They Worked With: N.W.A., The DOC, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, Game, Kendrick Lamar

The emergence of N.W.A. in 1987 as the vanguard of L.A. hip-hop is generally credited to the two co-founders of Ruthless Records, Eazy-E and Jerry Heller. And while these two men indeed had the ears for talent (including rapper Ice Cube and producer Andre “Dr. Dre” Young) and the stomach for financial risk, I propose looking at history the other way around. It was Dr. Dre who chose to work with Eazy and make him more than an ex-drug dealer with a loud mouth.

It was Dr. Dre who crafted the brief but brilliant career of The D.O.C.

It was Dr. Dre who chose to start his own label venture and mentor a young rapper from Long Beach named Snoop Doggy Dogg.

It was Dr. Dre who championed and mentored the Death Row Records stable of artists. And, after Death Row’s demise, it was Dre who snatched the Eminem demo tape from Jimmy Iovine’s clutches and funded Eminem’s Shady Records—which in turn gave us 50 Cent, G Unit, and The Game.

Not all of Dre’s choices—business and creative—have been wise ones. But his good ones have attained Biblical proportions. It’s no wonder then that Dre has become overly cautious about his own career. But he’s still making the right moves today with Kendrick Lamar.

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