Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine have pulled back the curtain on the timeless album 2001. In a sit-down interview with Apple Music, the Beats co-founders reflect on the process behind its creation, including hits such as “Forget About Dre” and “Still D.R.E.”
Noting The Chronic – Dre’s iconic debut – was a concept album, Iovine poses the question, “What were you thinking when you made 2001?” Dre then delves into detail, saying the approach was similar in that he didn’t want to feature himself too strongly.
“I’m trying to put myself in the studio with a bunch of great artists, as far as the microphone work goes,” he says. “I’m trying to just get on a song or two, here and there. My first album, The Chronic, and the 2001 album, I believe I might be on (only) like four or five songs.”
He continues: “I didn’t want to appear on the album at all. To be honest, I just wanted to find artists and produce them. The D.O.C. talked me into getting on the mic.”
While 2001 was an exercise in starting over with a fresh group of artists for Dre – like he did with with The Chronic – he highlights how Iovine made the difference the second time round, specifically when picking the lead single.
Dre says they were already celebrating wrapping up the album, when Iovine stepped in saying, “You need one more song.” Iovine wasn’t satisfied with Dre’s idea to push “The Next Episode” as the first single, despite being a fan of it.
“It was a great song,” he said. “I just felt the album needed something coming out from a different way. He added that he felt, “that’s great, but we can do something better and different.” Dre gave another nod to Iovine’s touch for executive oversight, saying, “again, he was right about it.”
Dre also emphasizes the instrumental role of his protégé Eminem in making the album, describing him as “the missing link.”
“He was hungry. I was hungry,” he says. “And it was just like that, you know, spontaneous combustion. We just clicked, and that just brought everybody and everything together that was happening at that time.”
He continues, “Then we found out what we were doing, it really works. And that’s all we really needed. It’s like, OK, the Slim Shady LP, they really like that. Now that we know that it works, wait ’til they hear this.”
Listen to Dre’s 2001 on Apple Music here and watch the video above.