First off Happy 50th B-Day Dr. Dre. Yesterday (Feb. 18), Dr. Dre turned 50 years old. The revered producer has been a fixture in hip-hop since the late 1980s, when he burst onto the scene as a member of N.W.A., terrorizing middle America and the FBI alike. But in the wake of his milestone, AARP–the American Association of Retired Persons, one of the largest interest groups in the country–has put him on the cover of their bi-monthly magazine. Described as “Fearless at 50-plus,” the Chronic producer and rapper graces the pages in a suit and tie, smiling broadly.
Dre’s presence in the American establishment hasn’t always been so welcome. The aforementioned early days of N.W.A. were marked by protests and concerned letters to editors; most famously, the FBI sent the rap group a coolly threatening letter after their hit single, “Fuck Tha Police,” began to reverberate through the country. Predating the Los Angeles riots, N.W.A.’s music was a focal point of social protest among people of color, especially on the left coast, where most of the commercially-recognized, politically-engaged rap was imported from Chuck D’s New York.
After leaving the group, Dre became renowned for his 1992 debut, The Chronic, and his work with Snoop Dogg and (later) Tupac. In 1996, he left Death Row Records to form Aftermath Entertainment, which has helped him grow into hip-hop’s must financially successful mogul. In conjunction with Interscope boss Jimmy Iovine, Dre launched his Beats line of headphones and audio hard- and software, which was recently acquired by Apple. The deal made Dre hip-hop’s first self-made billionaire.