André Romelle Young took on the moniker Dr. Dre in the early 1980s, working as a hip hop DJ and with the electro-funk group World Class Wreckin’ Cru before joining N.W.A. with Eazy-E, and Ice Cube in 1986. Parting ways with N.W.A, Dre went on to produce and pursue his solo career, releasing his debut album, The Chronic, in 1992, and a series of collaborative projects spanning 30 years.
Pioneering his “G-funk” style of pulsing tempos and ’70s funk sampling production, Dre began collaborating with more artists throughout the 1990s, including then-emerging rapper Snoop Dogg, who co-wrote a majority of The Chronic, including “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” and “Let Me Ride.” Dre would return the favor by co-writing several tracks for, and producing, Snoop’s 1992 debut album, Doggystyle.
For more than three decades, Dre has written and produced music for 2Pac (Tupac Shakur), Mary J. Blige, 50 Cent, T.I., and Eminem, among others. He helped launch Eminem’s career after signing him to his label, Aftermath Records, in 1998, producing his breakout The Slim Shady LP in 1999 and co-writing several tracks, including the hit “My Name Is.” Dre also partially co-wrote and co-produced Eminem’s follow-up, The Marshall Mathers LP; the two have continued to collaborate on most of Eminem’s albums since, including his 11th release Music to Be Murdered By in 2020; Eminem also co-wrote several tracks off Dre’s 1999 album, 2001.
Pulled from a catalog full of collaborations, here are five songs, some just outside of the hip hop realm, that Dr. Dre wrote for other artists.
1. “No More Lies,” Michel’le (1989)
Written by Dr. Dre, Michel’le Denise Toussant, and L. Goodman
Pre-Chronic, and still in his N.W.A. days, Dre co-wrote a majority of the tracks and co-produced his then-girlfriend Michel’le’s (Michel’le Denise Toussant) self-titled debut in 1989. “No More Lies” was the lead single off the album and took Michel’le into the top 10.
You say you love me
And I think that is true
But every night my girlfriend tells me
I should watch you
Now I say I trust you
But I want you to know
I’m not a sucker;
Chill out-your nose is growing, Pinocchio
2. “Bag Lady,” Erykah Badu (2000)
Written by Dr. Dre and Erykah Badu
The first single off R&B singer Erykah Badu’s second album, Mama’s Gun, “Bag Lady” tells the story of a woman trying to release the emotional “baggage” of a past relationship. “Bag Lady” peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart for seven weeks.
Bag lady, you gone hurt your back
Draggin’ all them bags like that
I guess nobody ever told you
All you must hold onto
Is you, is you, is you
3. “Let Me Blow Ya Mind,” Eve, featuring Gwen Stefani (2001)
Written by Dr. Dre, Eve, Mike Elizondo, Scott Storch, and Steven Jordan
Dre wrote two tracks off Eve’s second album, Scorpion, “That’s What It Is” and the hit single “Let Me Blow Your Mind,” which ended up blowing up the charts. The track, featuring Gwen Stefani, marked Eve’s first No. 1 and won the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Rap/Sung Collaboration. The song is a call out to everyone who ever doubted Eve’s potential for success.
If I had to give you more, it’s only been a year
Now I’ve got my foot through the door, and I ain’t going nowhere
It took a while to get me here, and I’m gonna take my time
Don’t fight that good shit in your ear, now let me blow ya mind
4. “Family Affair,” Mary J. Blige (2001)
Written by Dr. Dre, Mary J. Blige, her brother Bruce Miller, Camara Kambon, and Michael Elizondo
Dre only co-wrote one track—and the most successful—off Mary J. Blige’s fifth album, No More Drama. Named the 12th biggest song of the 2000s, “Family Affair” jumped to the No. 1 spot where it remained for weeks and was Blige’s first and only (to date) No. 1 on the Hot 100 chart. The song was entirely produced by Dre, who initially created the musical component for “Family Affair” using bass and keyboard. As they were recording vocals, Dre suggested Blige add a bridge to the song, which she wrote. The pair teamed up again, co-writing “Not Today,” featuring Eve (who is also credited as a co-writer), off Blige’s sixth album, Love & Life.
Come on, everybody get on up
‘Cause you know we gots to get it crunk
Mary J. is in the spot tonight
And I’ma make it feel alright (make it feel alright)
Come on baby, just, party with me
Let loose and set your body free (oh)
Leave your situations at the door
So when you step inside jump on the floor
Let’s get it crunk up on (let’s get crunk up on)
Have fun up on, up in this dancery
We got ya’ll open, now ya floatin’
So you gots to dance for me (gots to dance for me)
Don’t need no hateration
Holleration in this dancery (holler, holler, holler)
Let’s get it percolatin’, while you’re waitin’
So just dance for me
5. “New Day,” Alicia Keys (2012)
Written by Dr. Dre, Alicia Keys, Kasseem Dean, Trevor Lawrence, Jr., Andre Brissett, Amber Streeter
“New Day” had a bit of a lyrical turnaround before landing on Alicia Keys’ fifth album, Girl On Fire. Initially, the song was first recorded by 50 Cent, featuring vocals by Keys, for his 2012 album, Street King Immortal, which was later scrapped. Produced by Keys’ husband Swizz Beatz and Dre, Keys reworked some of the lyrics and recorded the song herself, singing around its marching rat-a-tat beats.
It’s your right to feel however you want to
There’s no limitation, no
If you love your life, let me see your hands up one time
We’ll celebrate mine, ’cause I ain’t gonna get no more
So we can do this all night, one time
Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images