From Jay-Z to Miley Cyrus, Kevin Hart has had conversations with many of music’s biggest and brightest stars on his Peacock talk show Hart to Heart. For the show’s latest episode, the Emmy-nominated multi-hyphenate has recruited music industry titan Dr. Dre. In two clips from the July 13 episode shared exclusively with Billboard, the seven-time Grammy-winning rapper opens up about the creation of The Chronic, the Straight Outta Compton biopic and the challenges of maintaining authenticity as a creative.
The men of N.W.A were in their early 20s when they exploded onto the scene with ruthless debut album Straight Outta Compton, and their individual priorities shifted once each member started exploring solo endeavors. “The difference there was money and business got involved, and it separated the friendship,” Dre tellsHart in one clip. “I had to separate myself from [Eazy-E] because he decided to take a different route. [Ice] Cube had already left, so I’m out here on my own. I have absolutely no idea what the f–k I’m gonna do, I just know I have this talent.”
Dr. Dre released The Chronic, his landmark debut solo studio album, on Dec. 15, 1992. The album reached No. 3 on the Billboard 200 and spawned a pair top 10 hits on the Billboard Hot 100: “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang” (No. 2) and “Dre Day” (No. 8). Another single, “Let Me Ride,” earned Dr. Dre his very first Grammy award. “A close friend of mine, we’ll call him D.O.C., talked me into doing the Chronic album,” he reveals. “It wasn’t my decision, I was talked into doing that. I just went in there and went for it because I felt, at that time, it was a life or death situation.”
For Dre, the quality and success of The Chronic would determine whether or not he “stayed in the studio.” “It’s really tough to find that kind of ambition and energy today,” he wistfully notes to Hart. Seven years passed between The Chronic and Dre’s sophomore album, the multiplatinum 2001 (1999). A further 16 years separated 2001 and Compton (2015), the most recent studio album from hip-hop’s first billionaire. Nonetheless, the former N.W.A member remained omnipresent in the music industry across the fields of music production, tech, mentorship and groundbreaking business deals — a feat he had to achieve while maintaining the authenticity he first established with Straight Outta Compton and “F–k the Police.” “It was really just to impress our neighborhood. We can be good in L.A., and everybody in L.A. is paying attention to us,” he reflects. “Little did we know we were gonna get attention around the world and from the FBI and that whole s–t, it was crazy.”
In 2015, Dr. Dre joined forces with fellow former N.W.A member Ice Cube and director F. Gary Gray to bring the legendary rap group’s story to the silver screen. “I think that everybody that was involved in the movie in the beginning didn’t believe in the movie and didn’t trust it,” he muses in a second clip shared with Billboard. “Myself, Cube and Gary Gray, we went for it. What you see on the screen is a result of what myself, Cube and Gary did.”
Straight Outta Compton grossed $201.6 million at the worldwide box office and earned an Academy Award nomination for best original screenplay.
Dr. Dre’s episode of Hart to Heart will be available to stream on Peacock beginning Thursday, July 13, at 6 a.m. ET.
Watch the rap icon talk about The Chronic above, and Straight Outta Compton below: