“I’m never gonna stop music,” said Dr. Dre. “It’s like air to me.” Shape-shifting the sound of hip-hop and leaving his production mark on everything he’s touched, from earlier days in N.W.A. to working with then-new rappers like Snoop Dogg and Eminem on their first releases, collaborations, and his own solo catalog, Dr. Dre is hip hop pioneer.
Writing and producing music for everyone from the late Tupac Shakur to 50 Cent, Mary J. Blige, and Alicia Keys, among others, with Dre’s three albums from his 1992 debut The Chronic, and 2001 to Compton in 2015 and dozens of collaborations in between, Dre’s hits kept rolling out over the past 30 years.
Here’s a chronological look at a sampling of Dr. Dre’s best solo and collaborative work from the ’90s.
1. Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang, featuring Snoop Doog (1993)
Dre’s 1992 debut The Chronic hit No. 1 on the US Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums and No. 3 on the Billboard 200. His first single “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” peaked at No. 2 on the Hot 100 and No. 1 on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and Hot Rap Singles charts, and earned Dre a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.
2. “Lil’ Ghetto Boy,” (1993)
Sampling Donny Hathaway’s 1972 soul hit “Little Ghetto Boy,” Dre tells the harsh realities of life on the streets and how some lose their life to jail or gun violence.
Them say me grow up to be nothing, look at me now
And tell me what you see
I am what I am, it’s only me
Little ghetto boy
Playing in the ghetto street
What’cha gonna do when you grow up
And have to face responsibility?
In 2016, Lalah Hathaway covered her father’s “Little Ghetto Boy” featuring longtime Dre collaborator Snoop Dogg and Robert Glasper.
3. “Let Me Ride” (1993)
Another pick from The Chronic, “Let Me Ride,” featuring a sampling of Parliament Funkadelic’s 1975 song “Mothership Connection (Star Child),” earned Dre his first Grammy Award for Best Rap Solo Performance in 1994.
4. “California Love,” 2Pac, featuring Dr. Dre (1995)
Produced and co-written by Dre, Tupac Shakur’s “California Love,” from his fourth album, All Eyez on Me, was an homage to his home state and a comeback for the rapper, following his release from prison, and his first with the then Dre co-founded Death Row Records. The song hit No. 1 on the Hot 100 and earned Tupac, who died on September 13, 1996, at the age of 25 from gunshot wounds in a Las Vegas drive-by shooting, a Grammy nomination for Best Rap Solo Performance and Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 1997.
5. “The Next Episode,” Dr. Dre, featuring Snoop Dogg, Kurupt, Nate Dogg (1999)
On Dre and Snoop Dogg’s first collaboration “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang,” Snoop says just chill till the next episode. A continuation of their Chronic union several years later, “The Next Episode” references 2Pac’s “California Love”—Compton, Long Beach, Inglewood! / South Central out to the Westside (Westside) / It’s California Love, this California bud—and was originally set to go on Snoop’s debut Doggystyle. Dre later reworked it and released it on his second album 2001.
Snoop Dogg and Dre recently opened the LVI Super Bowl Halftime Show on February 13, 2022, with “The Next Episode.”
6. “Still D.R.E.,” featuring Snoop Dogg (1999)
Written by Jay-Z, Dre was back, nearly a decade after releasing his first album, “Still D.R.E.,” was the lead single off his follow-up 2001. In the video, directed by Hype Williams, Dre and Snoop Dogg are cruising Los Angeles in lowrider cars with cameos from Eminem, Shaquille O’Neal, Pharrell Williams, and D.O.C. Dre closed out the 2022 LVI Super Bowl Halftime Show with “Still D.R.E.” along with Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Mary J. Blige, and Kendrick Lamar.
7. “Forgot About D.R.E.,” featuring Eminem, Hittman (1999)
Written by Eminem for Dre, “Forgot About D.R.E.” talks about Dre’s contribution to hip hop and how most mainstream rap has set a lower bar.
Nowadays everybody wanna talk like they got something to say
But nothing comes out when they move their lips
Just a bunch of gibberish
And motherfuckers act like they forgot about Dre
Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame