Dr. Dre is arguably one of the best producers in hip hop and has so many hits to his name. From 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ to ‘Nuthin’ But a G Thang’ featuring Nate Dogg, there are some undeniable hits in Dre’s catalogue. However, for this article, we have sieved through his entire discography to bring to you his five best productions ever.
Dr Dre made his name as part of N.W.A., a rap group that not only relied on their visceral rhymes but were ballasted by Dre’s unmatched ear for an intoxicating beat. Added to this was their own appetite for the annihilation of the establishment, and this palpable anger thrust them into the hearts of Generation X and propelled them into the mainstream. They managed to repurpose the punk ethos and repackage it for the ’90s, with all its sex, drugs and violence.
As part of the group, alongside Easy-E, Ice Cube and MC Ren, Dr Dre swiftly became one of the titans of hip-hop, providing multifarious inspirations for the plethora of acts that were to rise up in his wake. Notably, his rise was one of the most meteoric in music history, and since then, he has been duly awarded for his pioneering efforts, with hundreds of millions of dollars lining his coffers.
Outside of his own musical output, he also helped to put other legends such as Snoop Dogg and Eminem on the map, a testament to his skill behind the mixing desk. Aside from Jay-Z, Dr Dre is rap music’s most celebrated polymath, and the effect he has had on popular culture is nothing short of astounding. If you were to wipe his output from the face of the earth, many vital facets of contemporary culture would also disappear. That is the nature of the beast.
Whilst he may be hard to pigeonhole, one thing is clear. Dre has created numerous iconic tracks over the years, and some are still as influential as they were 30 years ago, showing the extent of how refreshing his unmistakable artistic style is. Whether it be Straight Outta Compton, The Chronic, or even later works such as 2001 or Compton, his back catalogue is a treasure trove of scintillating beats and bombastic deliveries, that serve as a revealing insight into the complex mind of one of the most significant musicians to have ever walked the earth.
Below, we dig into his production credits and pick out his five best beats of all time.
Dr Dre’s best beats of all time:
5. ‘Real Niggaz Don’t Die’ (NWA, 1991)
As a former member of the legendary Compton crew NWA (N*ggaz Wit Attitudes) Dr. Dre produced some anthems, and some of these earlier productions are his best and most recognisable. One fantastic example of this is ‘Real N*ggaz Don’t Die’, released in 1991.
With its rock and roll infused beat, it is truly one-of-a-kind and laid the foundation for the likes of D12 and others to successfully fuse rock and hip hop. ‘Real N*ggaz Don’t Die’ is a prime example of Dre in his prime as an ingenious risk-taking West Coast producer.
4. ‘Who Am I? (What’s My Name)’ (Snoop Dogg, 1993)
A G-Funk classic from Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle album, ‘Who Am I?’ has to have a spot in the top five. With its robotic vocoders reminiscent of Daft Punk, this instrumental contains so many subtleties that the casual listener doesn’t hear.
From the upright piano’s satisfying chord progression to the bass guitar’s scratchy plucks, it is truly a masterpiece and encapsulates the sound of 1990s California hip hop. Sampling P-funk pioneer George Clinton’s ‘Atomic Dog’, Dre pulled out all the stops for this record.
3. ‘Still Dre’ (Dr. Dre ft Snoop Dogg, 1999)
This simple yet infectious beat is one of the most well-known hip hop beats in the world. With its simple piano and violin, the track is a classic and shows you don’t need a million instruments to sell a million units.
The song, which features Snoop Dogg, was the lead single for Dre’s second solo album Dre 2001 and is still one of Dre’s most popular songs, being certified double platinum in the UK by the BPI. The beat began a new chapter for Dre and his sound as he left behind his trademark G-funk sound of the 90s and evolved. ‘Still Dre’ will forever be a classic, so had to be in the top five.
2. ‘Nuthin’ But a G Thang’ (Dr. Dre ft Snoop Dogg, 1992)
‘Nuthin But a G Thang’ is the ultimate G-funk beat. Released in the early 90s, when G-funk was in its prime, ‘Nuthin But a G Thang’ is iconic as it contains that high-pitched sliding saw synth that would become synonymous with Dr Dre and the entire G-funk sub-genre.
Sampling Leon Haywood’s ‘I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You’, Dre revived the funk song in all its glory with his beat, which came in the form of ‘Nuthin But a G Thang’. The track landed at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and has since been certified platinum, selling over 1.3 million units.
1. ‘Family Affair’ (Mary J Blige, 2001)
This song from Mary J Blige is one of the most commercially successful Dr Dre produced tracks of all time. Released in 2001 for Blige’s fifth studio album, No More Drama, ‘Family Affair’, based on official sales was the 12th-biggest song of the 2000s decade.
Akin to ‘Still Dre’, ‘Family Affair’ with a simple piano and ultra-catchy violin segment shows that simplicity prevails and that sometimes less is more. Dre hit a home run with this production and showed fans why he is truly a super producer.