Its Dres birthday this Friday. Celebrate on Saturday at the Royal Room in Columbia City.
It's Dre's birthday this Friday. Celebrate on Saturday at the Royal Room in Columbia City. Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

This year's Super Bowl halftime show was not so much a celebration of hiphop than a celebration of one of its brightest and most talented stars, Dr. Dre. This producer/rapper goes way, way back to a rap group few headz have any idea about, The World Class Wreckin' Cru. It formed in the mid-80s and had a look that must be described as glam rap. The hard headz of the time only gave one of Cru's tracks notice, "We Call Him Yella," which was basically Run DMC in a state of considerable dilution.

Compare "We Call Him Yella"...

...with Run DMC's "Jam Master Jay"...

And you get the idea.

At the end of the 1990s, Dr. Dre and DJ Yella (glam in hair, glam in threads, glam in sound) transformed themselves into gangsters, with validation from a real gangster, Eazy-E, and spitting cred from a street poet, Ice Cube. We know this constellation as NWA, a crew that tapped into the artistic energy of Public Enemy and directed it to the LA hood.

Dr. Dre is now a billionaire. He sold his ownership of Beats earphones to Apple; he discovered Snoop, Eminem, and 50 Cent, all of whom participated at the halftime show. But here is the thing. After Dre left NWA in the early 1990s, he began a creative journey in hiphop that can only be described as remarkable. He made hit after hit. And each of these hits ("Nuthin' but a "G" Thang," "Still DRE," "Keep Their Heads Ringin,'" and so on) is in the cannon. And there are a number of his productions that should be in that cannon but are unfairly excluded, such as The Lady Of Rage's rich and slamming "Afro Puffs":

Dre has also thrown his bright light on mid-career Kendrick Lamar, who provided the most electric performance last Sunday. Dre deserves every ounce of respect we can give him, which is why it's appropriate that the Royal Room is celebrating his 57th birthday on Saturday, February 19. It's Dre day, with great local hiphop producer Vitamin D leading a live band.

"A Dr. Dre Birthday Hosted by Tish" is happening at the Royal Room this Saturday, February 19 at 9 PM. Tickets are $15 to $20. More info here.

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