By now, Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine are household names and figures in the music industry. Together, they have had their hands in numerous breakthroughs in music, and business, over the past 25- plus years and have played a huge role in the globalization of various music genres, with hip hop experiencing the biggest boom.


“The Defiant Ones” is a four part docu-series housed on HBO that details their respective lives, how they came together and the extreme highs and lows that each have experienced to get to the point they are at now.




The series begins with the prospect of Apple buying the popular Beats By Dre headphones for a reported $3.2 Billion. It cuts to a sit down with Iovine who says that he told Dr. Dre to not do or say anything about the deal, or make any other deals, until this one was finalized. The next scene then features Dr. Dre in his home studio with Tyrese, celebrating the not yet finalized deal on Facebook with Dre proclaiming that he his rap’s first billionaire. This was done much to the dismay of Iovine and many others who had invested interest in this deal because it jeopardized its chances of even happening now. To this point, Dre acknowledged that it was one of the most embarrassing moments of his life.


This opening cut set the precedence for the entire series and it’s underlying theme: No matter how successful you are, the odds will always be stacked against to reach these levels of success. The people that do reach those levels are probably the ones who are stubborn or “defiant” and don’t care about those odds.


This series also relayed the message that you have to be lucky to be successful. Dre exhibited that logic just be merely coming from Compton, California and making it out. He was blessed with a mythical music ear and the ability to make timeless tracks that would prove to not only set himself up for massive success, but so many other successful artists as well. Iovine’s luck actually started his career when he was told by his cousin to go to the Record Plant Studio in NYC and engineer a session for none other than Bruce Springsteen.


Much like Dre, Iovine grew up in a place that didn’t see much success as well. He was never someone who was interested in school and the only reason he went to college is because he wanted to avoid getting enlisted in the army at all costs. After dropping out, he pursued his love for music and went from simply pressing the start and stop buttons on the tape recorder to engineering sessions and eventually producing Bruce Springsteen albums.


The luck doesn’t stop there as each continued to Defy the odds on the way to finding each other in the process.


Dr. Dre just happened to live down the street from Eric “Eazy E” Wright who had made a lot of money in the drug game and who heloed Dre create Ruthless Records. It also just so happened that they knew a men by the names of Ice Cube and MC Ren who would provide the pen to some of the hardest and most influential rap records ever recorded through a group they called NWA.


Iovine had also happened to get to know some great people through his foot in the door moment with Springsteen. He began to produce for other legendary artists like Bono and U2, and Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. This is where his legend had began to grow as he began to craft hits and make magic for these artists which resulted in some of their most popular songs to date.


With the success of NWA came disputes for Dre. It started with Ice Cube leaving the group over the lack of money being allocated correctly to those who truly drove the group. When a security detail turned music executive Suge Knight had informed Dre that his paper work wasn’t right and that he had been shafted of a lot of money with Ruthless, Dre then left the group and formed Death Row Records with Knight.


Where this all comes together is when Iovine had grown tired of just the producing role and wanted to have his hands in the business side of music through marketing and other avenues. This led Iovine to create the company Interscope Records and sign acts like Gwen Stefani and No Doubt and of course Dr. Dre and his Death Row Records imprint.


It’s all history from there on out.


Dr. Dre made “The Chronic” one of the most influential albums ever made in hip hop, Iovine and Interscope would continue to sign legendary acts like Tupac Shakur who would eventually work with Dre and create the famous track “California Love” as soon as he signed with Death Row after having been released from prison. Wins and massive success had been coming at the both of them in droves, but it was also met with its fair share of controversy.


Being associated with one another and giving Dre full confidence in every way, Iovine and Interscope Records had fallen into the highly publicized public outcry over “gangster rap” and how it was affecting the social climate.


Government officials were calling for protests of this kind of music and Iovine and Dre were at the very forefront of it because Dre was creating the tracks that harboured this music and Iovine was at the head of the company that had signed the artists that were making this music.



All of this, including the fact that Death Row had become an in house Fight Club, had led Dre to leave the imprint to Knight and start his own called Aftermath Records. This was also supported by Iovine and although the first couple years didn’t look promising, their next string of luck came with the finding of a rapper from Detroit named Eminem who in his first studio session with Dre, the pair had created the song “My Name Is” which would go on to set the stage for now one of the most critically acclaimed and commercially successful rappers and artists in history.


This along with Dre creating his second album and having that he so successful led to years of success to follow that reached commercial heights when they signed 50 Cent and his album “Get Rich or Die Tryin’” completely stunned the music industry and sold many records.


All of the music success had then led Dre and Iovine to move onto the business of music. Enter Beats by Dre Headphones and most recently Apple Music.


The overall point of the documentary was to point out that behind all successes are people who are willing to put it all on the line to make it happen. Success just doesn’t happen without controversy and/or downfalls, it’s intertwined with many rises and falls that begin to define the people who are in the midst of it. When they come out on the other side, they are more likely than not, stronger than ever and able to fully reap the rewards of their successes and hardships.


Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine are prime examples of this process and how to navigate through it successfully against all odds.


Were you able to catch the documentary and if so, how did you feel about it? Let’s talk about it here or find me on Twitter @Phenombc3.