The influence of Dr Dre cannot be understated. With his group N.W.A, he became one of the definitive voices of 1980s hip hop, going on to have an illustrious career in his own right before stepping into production and entrepreneurship. He’s managed to cultivate such a career through talent and an openness to inspiration, including rock and roll.
For countless rappers, he has been a guiding light, and he is constantly cited as a critical influence on some of the most established rappers in the world, including Eminem, Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent. But the iconic producer also has a secret love of rock music, or, more specifically, for one grunge band — Nirvana. What’s even more curious is that one of their albums is regarded by Dre as his favorite of all time.
“I think rap music is the only vital form of music that has been introduced to music in a long time since punk rock,” Kurt Cobain, Nirvana’s late-lead singer, once said in a recently discovered piece of lost audio, sharing his appreciation for rap and hip hop. “I would never do rap music. No. There’s just no sense in it. The people who do rap music do it just fine… I’m usually offended by people like Vanilla Ice, and stuff like that.”
He added: “The white man ripped off the black man long enough. They should leave rap music to the African-Americans because they do it so well, and it is so vital to them.” That wasn’t all he had to say about rap music, though, also stating: “I’m a fan of rap music, but most of it is so misogynist that I can’t even deal with it. I’m not really that much of a fan; I totally respect and love it because it’s one of the only original forms of music that’s been introduced, but the white man doing rap is just like watching a white man dance. We can’t dance; we can’t rap.”
Jay-Z used some of Nirvana’s lyrics in ‘Holy Grail’, Tyler, The Creator has often cited Cobain as a cultural touchstone, and even Method Man has to spit a few bars about the blonde singer. But it was during Dr Dre and Jimmy Iovine’s 2015 documentary The Defiant Ones that we witnessed Dre’s true affection for the group.
In the HBO documentary, which charts Dre’s life from working on N.W.A. in back rooms and bedrooms to becoming one of the world’s foremost media moguls, the rapper opens up about the trials and tribulations of his life. And while many bands and artists have figured in his life in some shape or form, there’s only one rock group which can be called his favorite; “Nirvana” proclaims Dre in the film. However, if you think that Dre just has love for the anthemic Nevermind record in some kind of catch-all nod to the world of guitar-driven music, you’d be dead wrong.
In 2010, the music mogul shared that he was getting rid of his record collection. In a somewhat shortsighted move, the producer decided to get rid of his near 80,000 disc collection, setting aside only three albums to cherish as his own. “What I did was just went through and jotted down everything I was in love with so I could order it [later],” he shared.
Those three albums were Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly, Barry White’s Greatest Hits, and Nirvana’s triumphant debut album Bleach, about which Dre said: “That’s one of my favorite albums ever made. I still listen to that shit to work out.” If you’re in need of the perfect workout music, then this album comes doctor-approved.
Listen to Dr. Dre’s favorite rock album of all time, Nirvana’s Bleach below.