Recognizing his lifetime of achievement in the music industry as a producer, engineer, recording artist and music executive, the Recording Academy’s Producers and Engineers Wing honored Dr. Dre Wednesday night at the wing’s 13th annual Grammy Week Celebration in Los Angeles.
Dre, one of hip-hop’s most prolific producers, has production credits on some of the genre’s greatest albums and remains one of the most influential artists to come out of the West Coast rap scene. He co-founded N.W.A and enjoyed a successful solo career with platinum albums including The Chronic and 2001, and as a producer and executive, Dre helped launch the careers of artists like Eminem and Kendrick Lamar. Dre joins the likes of Willie Nelson, Nile Rodgers, Neil Young, Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz to receive the honor.
Attendees clad in business casual attire and wide-brimmed hats crammed into Village Studios for the presentation following their red carpet, searchlight greeting outside. As the main room quickly reached capacity, guests overflowed into numerous rooms broadcasting the presentation on closed circuit televisions.
The night included a short speech from Harvey Mason Jr., interim CEO of the Recording Academy who took the helm following Deborah Dugan’s ousting last week. He kept the vibe loose while presenting Dre with the honor, keeping clear of any talk about the Academy’s internal drama while onstage. He handed the mic off to Jimmy Iovine, Dre’s longtime friend who launched headphone giant Beats by Dre with him in 2006. Iovine harkened back to the beginning of their working relationship when Interscope and Death Row records partnered in the Nineties. “This guy’s going to define Interscope,” Iovine recalled after Dre showed him his breakthrough solo record The Chronic. “I think Dr. Dre is the greatest pioneer in producing records of the last 40 years.”
Dre was loose and gracious in his speech, first thanking his wife (“She’s the only person on this planet that I’m a little bit afraid of,” he joked) and Iovine for their support over the decades and later recognizing all the recording artists, producers and musicians he’s worked with throughout his career. “I am having a fucking good time,” he told the crowd. “And I’m not just talking about here tonight; I’m talking about my life. Producing and engineering has been fascinating to me since I was a kid. We have the ability and the power to make people happy, excited, emotional, make people cry, give you goosebumps and create a lifetime of memories, and that’s super powerful. That’s what we do.”
He added that hoped winning the award would shine a light on the role producers and engineers have in cultivating artists’ careers, and he reflected on how music and his career shaped his life. “What if you could have everything you want and never have to deal with or do anything you don’t like,” Dre asked the crowd toward the end of his speech. “That’s my life, and that’s how I’m living right now.”
Following his speech, Dre introduced Anderson .Paak, one of four artists signed to Dre’s Aftermath Entertainment, who delivered a quick, 20-minute set with his band the Free Nationals to finish off the night.