Although the duo has not formally collaborated with each other, they have crossed paths several times throughout the years. Being two of hip-hop’s most successful and influential producers, they have both worked in similar circles, providing production (separately) on albums for Eminem, The Game, JAY-Z, and more.
As Kanye’s career began taking off, he spoke highly of Dre. “He's the definition of a true talent,” Kanye once wrote in a Rolling Stone essay. “Dre feels like God placed him here to make music.”
Outside of a few quotes here and there, their history together is minimal, and features no official musical collaborations. As we prepare for Jesus Is King Part II arrive, here’s a look back at Kanye and Dr. Dre’s brief history together.
1988: Kanye becomes aware of Dre after hearing Eazy-E’s ‘Eazy-Duz-It'
Kanye was introduced to Dr. Dre’s music at the age of 11, when he came across Eazy-E’s debut studio album, Eazy-Duz-It, in 1988. At the time, Kanye was still far from achieving his dream of becoming a rapper, but he was instantly inspired by Dre’s production on the project. “I remember hearing Dre's music before I really knew who he was,” he wrote in Rolling Stone. “I had a tape of Eazy-E's Eazy-Duz-It when I was 11 years old (until my mother found out it had curses on it and confiscated it).”
1990s: Kanye was inspired by Dr. Dre's music as he developed as a producer
When he was first getting started as a producer in the 1990s, Kanye named Dr. Dre, among other notable producers, to be his biggest influence. “When I was learning to produce, working in a home studio in my mother's crib, I tried to make beats that sounded exactly like Timbaland's, DJ Premier's, Pete Rock's and, especially, Dr. Dre's,” Kanye revealed. “Dre productions like Tupac's ‘California Love’ were just so far beyond what I was doing that I couldn’t even comprehend what was going on. I had no idea how to get to that point, how to layer all those instruments. The Chronic is still the hip-hop equivalent to Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. It's the benchmark you measure your album against if you're serious.”
2000: Kanye admits to ‘biting’ drums from Dre’s “Xxplosive” to make the beat for “This Can't Be Life”
After producing records for Ma$e, Eminem, and Nas, Kanye got his big break in 2000 when he began making hits for Roc-A-Fella Records. That same year, he produced a record for Jay-Z’s album, Dynasty: Roc La Familia. In his essay for Rolling Stone, he admitted to biting Dr. Dre’s beat off of his single, “Xxplosive,” in order to make a song for Jay’s album. “But it’s “Xxplosive,” off 2001, that I got my entire sound from—if you listen to the track, it’s got a soul beat, but it's done with those heavy Dre drums,” he wrote. “Listen to ‘This Can't Be Life’ a track I did for JAY-Z’s Dynasty album, and then listen to ‘Xxplosive.’ It's a direct bite.”
2003: Kanye and Dre meet for the first time in December
Although the pair were likely aware of each other before, Kanye and Dre didn’t officially meet until 2003. “I just met Dre for the first time in December—he asked me to produce a track (‘Dreams’) for the Game’s record,” Kanye recalled. “At first I was starstruck, but within thirty minutes I was begging him to mix my next album. He’s the definition of a true talent: Dre feels like God placed him here to make music, and no matter what forces are aligned against him, he always ends up on the mountaintop.”
2005: The Game drops 'The Documentary' featuring production from both Kanye and Dr. Dre
Thanks to Dr. Dre, Kanye was brought in to produce a song for the Game, and “Dreams” eventually appeared on Game’s debut studio album. The track peaked at No. 32 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 5 on the Hot Rap Songs chart. Dre also nabbed two credits on the albums: “Westside Story” and “How We Do.” The latter is certified gold and peaked at No. 4 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 2 on the Hot Raps Songs chart.
2006: Kanye and Dre are both credited as producers on JAY-Z’s 'Kingdom Come'
JAY-Z dropped his ninth studio album, Kingdom Come, on November 21, 2006. The double-platinum album, which topped Billboard’s Rap Albums chart, featured production from both Kanye and Dr. Dre. Dre produced four tracks on the project, including “Lost One,” while Kanye produced only one song, “Do U Wanna Ride.”
2014: Kanye claims Jay-Z’s deal with Samsung pushed Apple to acquire Beats by Dre
In 2014, Kanye spoke at a conference at the Cannes Festival, where he spoke candidly about the power of technology. He specifically addressed Apple’s acquisition of Beats by Dre, and how it effectively connected with the hip-hop culture at large. According to Kanye, that purchase was only made possible by JAY-Z’s deal with Samsung a year earlier. “There would have been no Beats deal without the Samsung deal. It showed the No. 1 company the importance of connecting with culture,” he said. “The reason I said I didn’t like Samsung particularly is because throughout my entire life, because of how my parents raised me, I have to work with the No. 1. Samsung is not quite Apple, but it showed that Jimmy and Dre would be able to connect with the No. 1 influencers.”
2016: Swizz Beatz confirms DMX is working with both Kanye and Dre on his next album
In 2016, Swizz Beatz sparked rumors that DMX’s next album featured collaborations with Dre and Kanye. “Long live the Dog aka my brother, aka the Great… Album sounding nice king. We’re just waiting on Dre and Kanye tracks to wrap up,” Swizz wrote in a post on Instagram. It was unclear whether the trio appeared on the same song or if they were featured separately on the project, but both the album and collaborations never dropped.
2016: TK Kirkland shares rumor that Beats By Dre deal was offered to Kanye first
Most recognize Beats By Dre as Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s lovechild, but rumors began swirling a few years ago that the deal was offered to Kanye first. The rumors stem from an interview VladTV did with TK Kirkland, a comedian who has run in Dre and Ice Cube’s circle for years. “A lot of people don’t know with Dre Beats, was really for Kanye West,” he revealed. “Kanye West turned it down because he couldn’t see people going back to the ‘80s wearing headphones.”
It’s worth noting that Kirkland’s alleged origin story is far different from Iovine’s, who claimed they came up with the concept during an impromptu encounter on the beach. “I was walking down the beach one day, and I ran into Andre Young, Dr. Dre,” Iovine said at the University of Southern California’s Global Conversation in 2014. “Dre said to me ‘Yo, my lawyer wants me to sell sneakers – what do you think?’ I said, ‘Dre, nobody in the world cares about how you dress or will care about your sneakers. What you should sell is speakers.’ At that moment, he said to me, ‘We can do that.’”
2019: Kanye West announces ‘Jesus Is King Part II’ with Dr. Dre
That leads us to Kanye and Dr. Dre’s work on Jesus Is King Part II. In a tweet on November 18, Kanye announced, “Ye and Dre Jesus is King Part II coming soon.”