The latest documentary series from HBO is shining a light on two of the most influential music producers of all time with The Defiant Ones. Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre both separately and together have helped artists find their sounds on some of the greatest albums of the past 30 years. First with Iovine’s label Interscope and later the addition of Dre’s Death Row Records, the two men have not only changed the music we hear, but the way we hear it.
The four-part documentary series, which premiered last night, opens with the billion-dollar deal between Apple and Beats headphones, a company built by Dre and Iovine. The new doc shows how Dr. Dre almost ruined the deal by leaking the news in a Facebook video with Tyrese. But after a quick start at the end, director Allen Hughes takes viewers back to the beginning.
Though both men started from humble beginnings, their paths to the music industry and eventually one another could not have been more different. In last night’s premiere, we see Iovine as a young Italian kid from Queens, New York, who attempted and failed to make it as a musician. But his tenacious and relentless pursuit to find what he loved to do eventually lead Iovine to a job sweeping the floors at the Record Plant recording studio in New York. After agreeing to work Easter Sunday when the regular sound engineer refuse to come in, Iovine found himself in the studio with John Lennon. From there, he honed his craft and went on to cement his reputation by working with Bruce Springsteen and Patti Smith.
On the other side of the country, Dr. Dre was growing up in LA’s dangerous Compton neighborhood. A true DJ before he even learned how to speak, Dre learned how to identify songs by the color of the vinyl record and became the DJ for his mother’s parties. Eventually finding his way to turn tables in his teens, Dre became the most sought-after mixtape master in the neighborhood, graduating to the club scene with the DJ group Wrecking Crew. After limited success, Dre made the bold move of striking out on his own and creating a new group with his friends Ice Cube and Easy E, two men reluctant to see themselves as artists. They would go on to be called NWA and create an entirely new genre of music known as gangsta rap.
The series is full of never before seen footage, including recording sessions with NWA and images of Iovine in the studio with Springsteen and Smith. With the new documentary, fans are gaining unprecedented access to the two producers, with the intensely private Dre opening up in one of his most revealing interview ever. FYI, Nirvana is Dr. Dre’s favourite rock group. So, that’s pretty cool.
Last night’s debut episode featured interviews with Bruce Springsteen, Patti Smith, Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, and will.i.am, with the world famous musicians detailing what it’s really like to work with two of music’s most prolific producers. More of the incredible line up of artists who have worked with Dre and Iovine are to appear in the next three episodes, including Bono, Gwen Stefani, Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor, and Dr. Dre’s protégé, Eminem.
The second episode of The Defiant Ones premieres Monday, July 10 at 9E/6P, with episode three coming Tuesday, July 11 and the conclusion on Wednesday, July 12.
Want even more amazing music docs? Watch Season 1 of Hip Hop Evolution available now on TMN Go.