HBO's The Defiant Ones Sheds New Light on Important Moments in Hip Hop History

defiantonesThere are some things that fans of Hip Hop accept as truth with or without any tangible evidence – OJ did it, the East Coast – West Coast feud killed Tupac and Biggie, and that Dr. Dre’s a genius. The HBO’s 4-part documentary is about the relationship between Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine. In it, family members and musical greats tell stories about how two men from seemingly different worlds helped to define the careers of some of the most iconic musical acts of all time and how they built a billion dollar company together. But in watching, I was blown away by how the piece shed new light on some of the things we thought we knew about Dre and the homies.

***Spoiler Alert – If you haven’t watched it yet, please be aware that this post refers to many important details.***

F*CK The Police Was Written Out of Boredom

In the documentary Ice Cube tells us that he didn’t write NWA’s most quintessential anti-establishment record after being roughed up by the police. He wrote it because he was bored. He was upset that he couldn't go to the studio on the weekends because Dr. Dre had to check himself into jail each weekend after a dangerous paintball prank with Eazy E. The song was originally dismissed and thrown away and had to literally be taken out of the garbage.

Comin' Straight from the Underground

JJ FAD Records Helped to Finance NWA

I had forgotten all about ole JJ FAD until they showed up in the documentary. I never knew they were being developed as commercial act by Eazy E and Ruthless Records. They were savvy enough to realize that NWA wasn’t going to get Radio play and mainstream appeal but three rapper girls could. They sold records and toured and helped them fund NWA projects.


The DOC Mentored Snoop Dog

Snoop Dogg is often depicted as a Hip Hop prodigy. He’s known for his witty lyrics and colorful delivery. In the documentary he admits that when he went in to record on The Chronic with Dr. Dre he really didn’t know how to make a record.  The DOC was actually the one who helped teach him the tricks of the trade – a Rap Mentor if you will. I was also shocked to learn that despite the fact that he has helped to write some of the hardest lyrics in hip hop, he actually didn’t have any cursing or derogatory language on his now classic debut album – No One Can Do It Better.

Like This That and This And Uh!

sugeandjfkSuge Played Football with Jimmy Iovine and JFK Jr!

What does Suge Night do in the weekend? Well I never would have guessed it but apparently one of the most feared men in entertainment was hanging out with the real OG's. The documentary shows clips and photographs of the crew playing football at Jimmy Iovine’s house.  Flag football I would imagine.  I don’t think Iovine could handle a hit from Suge.

Nuthin' But A G Thang

Interscope and Atlantic Records Bailed Tupac Out of Jail

Suge and Death Row Records bailed Tupac out of jail, right? Well, apparently Tupac’s release was bigger than Suge, bigger than Death Row.  Jimmy Iovine and Interscope were determined to get Tupac with Dr. Dre, but there was one problem, he was in jail. Time Warner would not allow Interscope to bail him. They instead fronted Death Row the money to do and the rest is, as they say, history.

Out on Bail, Fresh Out of Jail, California Dreamin'

A Casual Conversation Makes Billionaire

I think I always assumed that Dr. Dre's Beats headphones were the commercial version of ones he had designed for himself. Well, we learn that the eventual billion dollar venture was , like most things in business, born out of opportunity. Dre and Jimmy were sitting around talking about Dre's latest product endorsement opportunity and Jimmy utters the billion dollar phrase, "you need to endorse speakers, not sneakers"! In true Iovine

With My Mind on Money and My Money on My Mind

There were a lot of hip-hop gems in The Defiant Ones - watching The DOC listen to his voice on "Funky Enough" before the accident, watching Dre play to the camera as he puts together a song arrangement before your eyes, and Dre's repentant recount of the incident with Dee Barnes are all priceless - making it a must see for the culture.

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