Dr Dre and Kendrick Lamar are set to take part in perhaps the biggest Super Bowl Halftime show of all time this evening, but their connection goes back further than that. Of course, the two artists are known for representing the city of Compton, but they even share a high school.
Dre grew up in the city during the 1980s and went on to represent the city on the world stage, providing perhaps the area’s defining anthem ‘Straight Outta Compton’ through N.W.A. before becoming one of hip hop’s true greats. Releasing his debut album in 1992, The Chronic was only the beginning for Dre to inspire countless generations, including Kendrick Lamar.
Lamar first saw Tupac and Dre when they shot the ‘California Love’ video in his neighbourhood. The original video for the track featured a scene in Dre’s hometown, and Kendrick still vividly remembers the day these two titans of hip-hop came for a victory lap in his neighbourhood. He remembers how utterly transfixed he was by their greatness, and, at that moment, he knew that he was going to dedicate his life to following in their footsteps.
“I was about eight years old,” Kendrick later recalled to the Recording Academy. “They was shooting a video in my neighbourhood in Compton. My father see them, went two blocks down and got me, by the time he got me everybody was out there it was pandemonium, he put me on his shoulders and there they was, Dr Dre and Tupac right there.
“I think it was a white Bentley, that moment right there, whether I knew it or not, branched me off to what I’m doing now, it was already designed in destiny. Fifteen years later I meet Dr Dre, and I explained that story to him, and he remembered that same exact moment, and he remembers them kids that were out there, and I said Dre, I was one of the kids that were there, it’s a crazy feeling.”
The two men share a host of commonalities including attending Centennial High School some decades apart. “He’s bringing controversial issues to light. We have to have people like Kendrick and Beyoncé to keep people conscious of these issues, even though we’ve made plenty of progress in America,” Principal Douglas Brown told Pigeon & Planes of Kendrick Lamar. “I see a bunch of good kids every day here and I can only imagine what they go through outside of Centennial High School. But when they see someone like Kendrick, they get inspired.”
Dre would end up being the producer who would give Kendrick Lamar his shot, after J Cole prompted the ‘Still Dre’ rapper to give B Dot a contract. After a few years, it would become clear that Compton was still producing game-changing artists.