THE DEFIANT ONES (2019)
The Defiant Ones
Years before they brokered one of the biggest deals in music history – the 2015 sale of Beats Electronics to Apple for $3 billion – Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine navigated very different environments towards destinies that would, ultimately and improbably, bring them together.
In this first episode, their stories are explored. Dr Dre’s began in Compton, where his fascination with dance music, DJ innovations and sound brought him into contact with Eazy-E, Ice Cube, DJ Yella and MC Ren. Together, they would become the core of the 1980s gangsta-rap supergroup NWA.
A native of Red Hook, Brooklyn, Jimmy Iovine talks about gravitating to music following an indifferent academic career, always determined to avoid continuing in the family business as a longshoreman. Jimmy discusses getting a job answering phones in recording studios, and through a combination of hard work and old-fashioned luck, connecting with artists like John Lennon, Patti Smith and Bruce Springsteen. (00:42:17)
In this second episode, Jimmy Iovine’s reputation as a fearless, talented and indefatigable producer is explored, along with how he reached the West Coast following a successful collaboration with Patti Smith.
He describes moving to Los Angeles to produce with Tom Petty and his secret relationship with Stevie Nicks.
Dr Dre talks about provocative songs, such as Straight Outta Compton, which were shaped by the bitter race relations in Los Angeles. NWA evolved into a force to be reckoned with, in LA and beyond. But a devastating personal loss for Dr Dre overshadowed the success. (00:42:13)
Jimmy Iovine discusses how he continued to rise up the music industry ladder via successful collaborations with Tom Petty and Stevie Nicks, and Dr Dre talks about the difficulties he faced both professionally and personally.
Jimmy talks about hitting a wall and how he considered a career shift after a particularly difficult collaboration with U2, whose tireless drive in the studio rivalled his own. By 1989, Jimmy had parlayed his production expertise into a new career as co-founder of Interscope Records, committing the label to artists such as Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails, Marilyn Manson, Gwen Stefani and No Doubt.
Dr Dre discusses a series of calamities he experienced, including personal losses on the streets, run-ins with the law and a bitter contract dispute and clash over management that strained his relationship with Eazy-E. He talks about landing at a crossroads and looking to make a fresh start. (00:41:38)
In this episode, Dr Dre talks about recording his debut solo LP, The Chronic, with Death Row Records, a post-NWA label he created with Suge Knight, the D.O.C. and Dick Griffey.
Blown away by Dre’s singular talent, Jimmy discusses cutting a deal with Death Row for Interscope to become the label’s distributor. The Chronic became a huge hit and spawned even bigger LPs from Dre’s protege Snoop Dogg and new Death Row signee Tupac Shakur.
The program explores the hostility that was mounting across America towards the misunderstood violent influence of rap music. Interscope and Time Warner (which owned 25% of the company) found themselves in the crosshairs of an angry political mainstream. And Jimmy talks about resisting overtures to sell Interscope’s stake in Death Row. (00:38:45)
Dr Dre talks about his time with Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur. All of them became embroiled in a violent feud with their East Coast rap rivals, notably Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs and his company, Bad Boy Records. This drove Dre to seek out another new beginning and establish a subsidiary of Interscope called Aftermath Entertainment.
Dre discusses enduring a string of disappointing solo releases, but Jimmy Iovine stood by him as others argued he should be dropped. Dre’s fortunes turned when Jimmy turned him on to the music of unknown white rapper Eminem. Dre talks about producing The Slim Shady LP, which took the rap music world by storm. (00:39:52)
The Defiant Ones reaches its final part. Jimmy Iovine talks about his worry that his and Dr Dre’s bubble might burst due the emergence of Napster.
Although Jimmy was on a roll with Dre and an enviable list of hot new acts, he also looked to forge partnerships and opportunities to secure their future.
An opportune sit-down between Jimmy and Dre led to the idea of Beats Electronics. This was the speaker-headphone phenomenon that would vault the partners to new heights and pave the way for an historic 2014 deal with Apple.
However, Apple was not just interested in headphones; it was investing in the genius of Jimmy and Dre, who continue to innovate at Apple Music while picking up accolades such as giving back to the communities that fostered their unique talents. (00:39:29)