Dr. Dre: The Biography (Book)
Artist: Ronin Ro
Title: Dr. Dre: The Biography (Book)
Rating: 3 and a half stars
Reviewed by: Sidik Fofana
Apparently, Dr. Dre has done something deserving of a whole book about his life. Ronin Ro certainly thinks so. Avalon Publishing definitely thinks so. Both are banking on the hope hundred thousands of readers think so as well. After all, we are talking about a pioneer of gangsta rap. The beat helmsman who put his right thumb on a SPC 1200 sampler and left thumb on a paper map of Compton, California and kept them there for a good 20 something odd years.
Dr: Dre: The Biography (Avalon Publishing Group) reads like an extended timeline of his cherished discography. The book places more emphasis on Dr. Dre’s professional career, but it also gives cutting room floor glimpses into Dre’s varying relationship with his inner circle and how it influenced the music he released. The book begins with Dre as a prospective high school graduate, father to be, and newest member of the World Class Wreckin’ Cru. The biography ends jubilantly with Dre’s plans for Detox, the highly anticipated follow-up to the mammoth 2001.
As a journalist who has written for Vanity Fair, Vibe, and other monthly newsstand favorites, Ronin Ro writes Dr. Dre: The Biography like an elongated magazine feature. This chic style that relies on heavy quoting both adds and takes away from the book. Sure, it’s cool to read Dre’s quote, “It ain’t the Midas touch. Midas only turned things into gold. I turn them into platinum.” Yet, when Ro quotes Dre’s saying, “I love and respect what he is doing,” in regards to Diddy’s contributions to the music industry, it’s obvious that Ro could have just saved the ink.
The attractive part about The Biography is that readers get enchanting behind-the-scene snippets that depict Dre at work. The book talks about the times when Dr. Dre would make Eazy-E record his verses line for line when the late NWA member was struggling with his delivery. The biography also goes in detail about a father-son dynamic between Dre and The Game that sprouted years before The Game’s breakout debut The Documentary.
When it comes to the history of West Coast rap, The Biography is for the cocktail sippers whose knowledge of gangsta rap is peripheral at best. Its breezy writing and well-researched chronology places the life of one Hip-Hop’s fabulous beatsmiths in crystal clear perspective. Those who have extensively followed the countless magazine pieces on Dr. Dre over the last 20 years will find this book as a brush up tool. Either way, Dr. Dre: The Biography stands as a momentous document for one of the great careers in the Hip Hop spectrum.