Dr. Dre staged the biggest comeback of the year. He returned to the public eye and the top of the charts with Dr. Dre 2001, his first album since 1992’s West Coast gangsta landmark The Chronic. He saw his protégé Eminem sell another mountain of records with The Marshall Mathers LP. His Up in Smoke Tour was the most booming of the summer season, boasting intricate sets and an incredible sound system (those who missed it should add the forth-coming DVD to their Christmas lists). Like the last time the good doctor had an album out, Dre was at the center of censorship controversy. When Up in Smoke got to Detroit, Eminem’s hometown, city officials threatened to halt the proceedings if a blaxploitationesque preshow video starring Dre and Snoop Dogg was shown. And in a year full of much talk about violence and the media, Dre also took heat about the gay-bashing and women-hating elements of Eminem’s lyrics. But he’ll be the first to tell you that, all in all, 2000 was good to him. And from the sound of who he’s working with next, 2001 may be even better.
You had quite a year. What would you say was your biggest accomplishment?
Finishing my tour with the mission accomplished. I knew everybody was going to be looking at this tour with a microscope, so I wanted to make sure we presented ourselves correctly and still kept it hard-core. We wanted to make sure we put on a good visual. And being a producer, I had to get a top-notch sound system. Everybody said it couldn’t be done. They were afraid that we would have problems as far as violence goes. We came through with no problems. The only problem we had was with the police in Detroit. Imagine that.
And that was over the content of a preshow video, not violence at the show or any mismanagement by the tour’s organizers.
Yeah. I didn’t understand it. I think that somebody was just trying to get in the newspaper. It was election time. We anticipated a few problems with the video, so we made an alternative version from the start, but they were just being assholes there. I thought Detroit would roll out the red carpet for us, since it’s where Em is from. They did the exact opposite – we didn’t find out about the bullshit with the video until right before we was ready to go on. Basically, they was just trying to fuck the show up. So we went on and did the show without playing it at all. If we had played it, they would have pulled the plug, a riot would have broke out, and boom, there it is: Another rap concert breaks out in violence. But you know, overall, I’ve had an incredible year. That incident was the only down moment for me.
What do you plan to focus on in 2001?
I just signed Rakim. I’m really proud of that, and I’m going to put my all into that album. I’ve been wanting to work with him for, like, the last ten years, but I didn’t want to go into the studio and just put a couple of songs on his album; I wanted to oversee the entire project and make sure it came out the way I pictured it. About a month ago, I found that he was out of his deal. I called him, and he was wit’ it. We’re going to start next week. I’ll also have my first R&B project in ten years. I’ve been looking for a female vocalist for about eight years and finally found one that I’m feeling. Her name is Truth Hurts.
Did you make any odd purchases this year?
I just bought as $5 million beach house. I’m really proud of that. That’s about it, man. I’m not a big spender. I don’t get into all the jewelry and all that. I’ve heard shit about people spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on jewelry. I can’t see myself ever spending hundreds of thousands on anything that doesn’t come with a toilet.
What are your dreams for next year?
I’d really like to do a movie, either as a producer or director. My ultimate fantasy would be to direct a movie and produce the entire soundtrack. I don’t really see myself acting. Well, there is a project that Snoop wants to do – he wants to do a ghetto Odd Couple. He’d be the slob, and I’d be the clean one, of course. I think we’re gonna do it. I could pull that off, because I’m really comfortable around Snoop. But totally getting out of my character and playing a murderer or something like that, I don’t think I could do it.
What do you want to change next year?
My body. I’m really into fitness right now. I’m starting to body-build. My New Year’s resolution is to have a six-pack.
What’s the best thing you heard this year?
Just recently I got into this group I’m loving called Dead Prez. I love the song “Mind Sex.” I’ve been playing that nonstop.
This year, you and Eminem were attached by gay-rights groups for the lyrics on Eminem’s album. What do you think about it now, a few months later?
I never even looked at Em’s music as being offensive; it’s just funny to me. It’s comedy, but I guess it can be offensive if you’re one of those types of people. Looking at it now, to tell you the truth, I really still don’t give a fuck. It’s just funny to me. I put it in my car and bump it and don’t think twice about it. Simple as that.
Did you feel the criticism was at all justified?
I haven’t really paid attention to the feedback; I’ve been in the studio doing my thing. But I’m not going to go and make it worse by speaking on it again. If people are really that offended by it, we should stop doing it and go on to a different topic. All in all, we just thought it was funny when we were making it. I think people felt comfortable bringing it up because Em has gotten so big. A lot of these people probably don’t care; they just want TV time. There’s a lot more records out there saying crazier shit. It just goes to show you: If it’s big, they’re going to talk all about it. There were records this year, maybe not as big, that said crazy shit. They were singling Eminem out. A lot of people love him, and right now a lot of parents think that he has their children’s future in the palm of his hand. Like I always say, the parenting should start at home. Eminem has his own daughter to worry about.
You specifically were singled out for telling MTV News that you “don’t care about those types of people,” referring to gays.
It’s wrong for me to do or say what I want? To express my opinion? I don’t understand why expressing my opinion is wrong. There’s a lot of people out there expressing their opinion about me and Eminem, and they’ve got the right to do that. What the fuck? I’ve always been a lunatic. Everybody’s entitled to their opinion, and that’s mine.