Dre: Next Level

D re envisions a solo career. As half of Cool & Dre, the Miami hit-maker has watched his status rise with each single the pair places on a top-selling album. After last year’s “Hate It Or Love It,” a collaboration with The Game and 50 Cent, the Miami duo has schooled other artists on how […]

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re envisions a solo career. As half of Cool & Dre, the Miami hit-maker has watched his status rise with each single the pair places on a top-selling album. After last year’s “Hate It Or Love It,” a collaboration with The Game and 50 Cent, the Miami duo has schooled other artists on how to make hits, from which Christian Milian became an alum. Still, Dre keeps having those visions of solo grandeur. But his debut solo album, The Trunk, won’t drop until the timing is right.

That time appears to be fast approaching in a year projected to make Miami a Hip-Hop focal point. Dre’s focus remains with those multitalented producer-slash-rappers before him. The South Florida resident insists that there will be no confusion between him and a certain Compton legend. And, he seeks to clarify rumors concerning his relationship with Christina Milian. Although he maintains a selective candor, this is one artist who is not talking jive. Dre has others talking, and those dreams of a solo artist career are fast becoming a reality.

AllHipHop.com: How many times do you think you’ve been asked about Christina Milian?

Dre: [laughs] I get asked that question a lot. Matter of fact, I heard there was something about that on AllHipHop.com yesterday. That interview I did in Baltimore with Lil’ Mo, yeah, I definitely know what’s going on.

AllHipHop.com: Not to be on the tabloid tip, but the rumor alleged that you were allegedly taking pokes at Nick Cannon.

Dre: I would never disrespect that brother, that’s the part they got wrong. I wasn’t trying to dodge the question, but I didn’t give her a straight up answer, so she was like, “Aww, you ain’t trying to claim nothing.” That’s when I said, “Hold up, a real man claims his.” That was not directed at Nick, because I don’t have no problem with him. Me and him are actually cool, when we see each other we shake hands, I don’t have a reason to have a problem with him, he’s a good dude. So that statement about a real man claiming his was not directed at him. One thing I hate about this game is when n****s try to pin n****s against each other, especially n****s that are doing positive s**t-that’s wack. Like I said before, a lot of our young people should look up to him, because he’s accomplishing a lot of great things for somebody his age. He’s a 25, 26-year-old black man getting money in a good way, and I highly respect that.

AllHipHop.com: Well we won’t beat that issue into the ground any further, but is there any truth to the other rumor about you being linked with Julissa Bermudez from 106 & Park?

Dre: Oh, she’s a beautiful girl…

AllHipHop.com: I agree, but I’m saying though?

Dre: Nah, she’s not only a beautiful girl, but she’s a beautiful person. Me and her are very cool and she’s someone that people should definitely watch out for, because she’s extremely talented. She’s gonna be a problem in the industry. Me and her got love.

AllHipHop.com: Do you think that type of controversy is good promotion?

Dre: I don’t even pay attention to it, honestly. I let the music speak for itself, me and Cool have always been blessed to have the streets rate our s**t and say that we’re hot. That’s all that matters to me. I just want to get with people and come up with new s**t and try to continue to elevate this rap s**t and this black music.

AllHipHop.com: You and Cool did Christina Milian’s whole album, is there a different mindset for doing a whole album as opposed to just singles?

Dre: Yeah, it’s different because you have an opportunity to create a body of work. If you do a whole album, you’ll hear a single, and then when the second single comes out the first single makes sense to you, then another one comes out and it’s like, “Oh,” it’s like a timeline or a puzzle. That’s what happened with Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and Janet Jackson, that’s what happened with The Neptunes and The Clipse.

AllHipHop.com: Are you worried about the mixed reviews that your own singles have gotten?

Dre: Nah, n***s is happy for me. The main reason I’m doing [this album] is because a lot of my peers told me, ‘You need to go ahead and f**k with that s**t man because you can rap, sing, make beats and write songs. Don’t limit yourself.’ These are n****s from Puff Daddy, Busta Rhymes, Fat Joe, Scott Storch, and Timbaland giving me that cosign. So I figured, ‘F**k it, I’m just gonna do it.’

AllHipHop.com: Are you worried about mixing all of those elements when people seem to gravitate toward verses about guns and drugs?

Dre: I’m from Miami, so it’s definitely a street element to the album, the name of the album is The Trunk, which symbolizes how we get that work and how we work in Miami. Me and Cool used to sell beats out of the trunk. It’s a little bit of everything. I’m a different type of n***a, I listen to all kinds of music, and that influences how and why I make beats. One day I could be listening to a T.I. or a Lil’ Wayne album, and the next day I’m listening to an old Phil Collins album.

AllHipHop.com: A lot of people like to front like they weren’t on that “In the Air Tonight” back in the day.

Dre: Yeah, you know s**t like that “Sussudio” and “In the Air Tonight” and all of that type of s**t. I listen to anything that’s going to inspire a n***a to go into the studio and make music.

AllHipHop.com: A lot of producers get to a point where the music starts sounding too similar, how can you take your sound to a new place?

Dre: It’s like a gift and a curse, because me and Cool never had a particular sound. After we did “New York” for Ja Rule, a lot of motherf**kers wanted that sound and me and Cool wouldn’t even do it, because we didn’t want to pimp the style or whatever. At the same time, in order to run the radio, once you’ve got something poppin’ you’ve got to go with it. When we did [Game’s] “Hate It or Love It” and the Mary [J. Blige] remix, that was so big that me and Cool were like, “Yo man, this is our s**t, dog!” Before we could let someone else do it, we kept with that same soul feel and that bounce and we gave Christina Milian something [“Say I”] that had that same type of feel. But we’re already somewhere else, we just finished working with Young Jeezy and it looks like there’s a 95 percent chance that’ll be the first single. When that s**t drops, it won’t sound like anything you’ve ever heard in your life, it’s on some other s**t. We constantly change up, and I listen to everything that will inspire me to do something different. That’s why I respect a n***a like Swizz Beatz, Swizz came out with one type of thing and ran it and then took a break, and then came with a whole new sound.

AllHipHop.com: You guys had to come in with some business savvy as far as having the label and the restaurant that soon.

Dre: We got the label deal with Jive after two years in the game. It is what it is, it took us a couple of years to really get an understanding of the industry to make this record label s**t work. Now we feel like we know how to do this s**t right so people like Dirtbag, Joe Hound, and C-Ride have a good opportunity to come out and make some noise. Then we’ve got 510 Ocean, the only black-owned restaurant on the beach, it’s sitting right there on Ocean Drive. It’s Cool, myself, Big Boi from Outkast, Lil’ Jon, and T.J. Duckett from the Atlanta Falcons too. We’ve got a really nice, sexy spot right there on the beach.

AllHipHop.com: What kind of transition is it to go from an Ensoniq ASR-10 and the MPC 2000, to using programs like Reason and Garageband?

Dre: Reason is starting to be real big. My homeboy, DJ Toomp, who did “What You Know” for T.I., he’s big on that. You’ve got to change with the times, so me and Cool definitely have the Reason program connected. We use it like a module, and I’m still on the MPC, but we use it with Reason to grab some of the dope sounds off of that.

AllHipHop.com: Jive is known more now for Britney Spears than Too $hort, E-40 and A Tribe Called Quest. Was there anything besides Chris Lighty and the $2 million that made you choose them?

Dre: Jive was originally pioneers back in the day when it comes to this Hip-Hop s**t, but they kind of fell off a little bit. Now we’re starting to restore that with ourselves and everything we’re doing at Epidemic, The Clipse and UGK, we’re going to bring it back because Jive is kind of scarred in the streets. The more hot music n****s put out, the more of a face you give to Jive, so we’re just trying to give Jive a face in the streets again. They ain’t got a face right now, but we’re going to fix it.

AllHipHop.com: Knowing the history of Jive and the current situation was there any hesitation on your part?

Dre: Nah, because one thing Jive is known for is breaking new artists. They have opportunities there for you to work with other artists that can take you to that next level. If someone like [Dirtbag] puts out a smash hit record, then there’s an opportunity to talk to the A&R and say, “Look I’m putting together this remix and I’m a need your boy Justin Timberlake on this one.” There’s a range of people you can get to, especially now with all of the [former] Arista acts being on there.

AllHipHop.com: As far as producers with quality solo joints, a few names come to mind Diamond D., Kanye West, Pete Rock, Warren G-where do you think you’ll fall within that spectrum?

Dre: I give a lot of credit to Kanye West because he legitimized a producer being a rapper or an artist. But, we can never forget that one of the biggest rap artists ever in Hip-Hop history started out as a producer-his name is Dr. Dre. People forget Dr. Dre, the guy who when he puts out an album, everybody rushes out to the store to buy [it]. We don’t even get mad at him that he doesn’t even write his own lyrics, who cares? My goal is to come somewhere near that stratosphere, I know that I’ll never be able to accomplish what he’s done, because what he’s done for music is on a whole ‘nother level. So I call myself “D.R.E., not the doctor, but still Dre.” It’s like a play on words, you know, not the doctor because of the song “Still D.R.E.” I say all of that to say that there’s nothing I can ever do that’ll put me on the level of that guy. He and Timbaland are the greatest to me. Diamond D is dope. I was with him in Atlanta the other day, and of course Pete Rock is always doing his thing too. Warren G is dope. He came and sold four million records out the gate.

AllHipHop.com: Are any of those cats you were making beats for part of this new wave of Florida artists like Plies or Smitty?

Dre: One of the guys we were working with heavy back in the day was a fellow by the name of Rick Ross, who’s on fire right now. It’s so dope because me and him have a record together [“Chevy Ridin’ High”], and it ain’t a situation where I just put him on there because we’re both hot right now. We’ve been working with Ross for six years before this popped off, so it’s just natural and it’s all love. Miami’s got a movement going on, it’s a lot of s**t going on. You’ve got DJ Khaled with his album and his single that we produced [“Holla At Me”], his album is dropping June 6th. You’ve got Ricky Ross and what he’s doing, we started getting in the studio with Trick [Daddy] today and writing for his new album. It’s definitely a nice movement going on in Miami and we’re starting to realize that we don’t have to leave the crib to get s**t accomplished.