During the last few weeks, hip-hop's most acclaimed producer has been making headlines for being attacked at the Vibe Awards. But on a rare trip to New York soon before the melee, the only act of violence on Dre's mind was putting the entire music industry in a chokehold. He's decided to forge ahead with his on-again/off-again Detox LP and also has his platinum hands in several other projects.
"Definitely," Dre, seated between 50 Cent and Game, said inside Avatar Studios about whether Detox would come out. "I'm back into it right now. A lot of people have been coming at me and saying that they are disappointed that I'm not doing the record. So I decided to go out and put it out there. I am going to probably start doing it or January, something like that. Hopefully I will get a fall release."
With Eminem already on course for another diamond award with Encore, and Detox on deck to be just one of the potential blockbusters coming from the Aftermath/ Shady/ G-Unit musical trinity, Dre says 2005 will be remarkable.
"The new Eminem album is crazy, it is nothing less than that, it is so insane," he said. "Right now we got Busta Rhymes getting ready to complete his album, he'll be dropping next year. E.V.E.! Eve, she signed and she'll be dropping next year. We're going to try to control the whole year. We're going to try to control it and run the airwaves."
"I will be out next year," Eve promised. "Definitely. I can guarantee an album by next summer � I'm hoping. Nothing's done. I just got to step in and do it."
The first two '05 releases coming from the hip-hop empire will be Game's The Documentary and 50 Cent's Valentine's Day Massacre, which drop on January 18 and February 15, respectively.
"When I started, I went in and did like 14, 15 records," 50 said of his new album. "Then I put those records aside and started over. I went out to L.A. and worked with Dre. We got some special joints so I'm excited right now. I know I'm gonna exceed everyone's expectations on this project because they feel like Get Rich or Die Tryin' was the best I could do. I got something up my sleeve."
"It is pretty much the same technique � we go in, I have some tracks ready and he just comes in and does his thing," Dre explained.
"I think the last time we worked what, about a week?" the Doc continued, looking at 50 and getting a head nod from his partner. "We just worked about a week on the record and I think we put in about two weeks this time. "You know what's going to happen � it is going to be crazy."
"You know what's going to happen," 50 laughed. "I guarantee this album will be 10 times better than my first record. It's a little more complex. Now that I know people are listening, I can articulate and write the things I wanna write. My first record, I was just trying to have fun with it and express my actual situations. I write about the harsh realities. I'm just interested in seeing how they respond to it."
50 doesn't seem too worried about it, though. "Backlash and all of those things happen to people that don't maintain being consistent," he rationalized. "There're people out there who ask me, 'Yo, you think you can do it again?' And I question them, 'Why do you ask whether I think I can do it again when everyone around me has been able to put out a hit record?' "
Lloyd Banks agrees that the G-Unit steamroller won't be slowed anytime soon.
"We have enough talent to get us through," Banks said. "My music comes from my heart and my personal experiences, Buck, Yayo, 50. The music is there, we're talented. I count my blessings every day because it might not be the same as it is now, but I don't think we'll ever go away. It's not a fluke. I'm coming back fourth quarter next year, ya heard! I'm about 15 records into my next album."
G-Unit members Young Buck and Tony Yayo are also looking to put out albums in 2005 ("Once 50 and Em drop, I'mma come right after them," Yayo said about the release of his solo LP. "My album is strictly for the streets."), while Game's release is practically etched in stone. The video for his official first single, the 50 Cent duet "This Is How We Do," debuts Monday on "Direct Effect."
Dre says what attracts him to work with young artists is simple: All they need are two main ingredients.
"What I look for first is just the imaging," Dre said of what made him put Game down. "I'm watching how he walked through the door, and of course, you have to have that talent. The way he sounded, the delivery he had on the microphone, the lyrics, all of it turned me on. Then our personalities clicked in the studio and there it is. It worked. The talent gets you in and the personality keeps you there."
"When I was a little kid I just admired this man a lot," Game said with a grin while looking at Dre. "I never thought that I would be sitting here amongst these legends, but I am here now."
The respect level is so high for his mentor that Game wanted to name his album after the Doc's former group.
"We had the title of the album slated to be N.W.A," Game said, " you know, being from Compton and signed to Dr. Dre and just growing up in that N.W.A melting pot when they were putting it down. We had some legal issues with it and so we had to change the name. It's now The Documentary.
"When I was younger I grew up in a boys home and I was taken away from my parents when I was like 8 years old," he continued. "Here I am, 24. When my album drops I will be 25 so that's 17 years I have been going through my struggle by myself. There are 17 tracks on my album and every track sheds light on a different situation I went through the last 17 years."
Officially, 50 Cent and Dr. Dre are the executive producers of The Documentary, but like all of the albums that fall under the Shady/ Aftermath/ G-Unit umbrella, it's a collaborative effort, with the family all chipping in to help one another. Eminem likened the crew to a football team.
"Let's say Dre is the coach and I'm playing quarterback and 50 is the receiver, he's the go-to man right now. Everyone is set up in a place to play that position and it's more important for us to win overall, you know. It's about winning the championship as opposed to any individual getting the fame."
Em says everyone is aware that swelled egos are what leads to empires being reduced to rubble.
"That's just how sh-- falls apart," he reasoned. "It's exactly how sh-- falls apart, everybody feels like, 'I'm not getting my shine that I deserve.' If somebody's album comes out and it doesn't do well, whether it's mine, or 50's or Obie or whoever's album, next time we will get them. It's always that, that's going to keep us grounded and rooted."
There isn't even any fighting over Dre's beats � there's no need to.
"Its always something good in there with Dre," 50 laughed.
"You know what?" Dre explained about how he determines the distribution of his much-coveted tracks, which more often than not turn out to be sure-shot hits. "Whoever is in the studio at the moment or whoever is on the brain at the moment is who the track is going to."
by Shaheem Reid,
with reporting by Sway Calloway and La La Vasquez