Nuthin' But a "G" Thang
When he started out as a club DJ, Dr. Dre often said his specialty was "mixology," but for nearly 25 years, it seems as though his focus might be better categorized as surgery, given his ability to piece together music hits with unbreakable concentration and steady hands at the studio sound board.
As a producer, Dre has been the major musical influence behind N.W.A., Death Row Records, Aftermath Records, and has collaborated with artists such as Jay-Z, Eve, Gwen Stefani, and Trent Reznor. Though Eazy-E is generally referred to as the Godfather of Gangsta Rap, Dre deserves an equal share of that title. His time in N.W.A. and at Death Row served as a springboard for the monstrously successful careers of Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, 2pac, Eminem, and 50 Cent, who all in turn introduced the rap world to Tha Lench Mob, Westside Connection, the Eastsidaz, Thug Life, D12, and G-Unit. Dre's virtually uninterrupted musical success from the mid-80s to 2011 can be attributed to two things: an inexhaustible work ethic and the ability to recognize potential in an unlimited amount of musical resources.
Again, it comes back to his surgical skills. Just listen to the entire Chronic album, and when you're done, play a few tracks from Parliament Funkadelic's Greatest Hits. Or check out Dre's music at Whosampled.com to hear seemingly insignificant elements of songs experience a rebirth as the catchiest sounds of the G-Funk catalog. Though Dre built his own songs on the Parliament foundation, they are original collages that could only he could have envisioned. From Parliament's music, to the beats his studio musicians jammed out, to the thousands of hours in the studio with Death Row artists that would only produce about 10 hours of music, Dre has been labelled one of the most scrutinizing and hard-to-please producers in the music industry.
As an artist, Dre has always preferred to stay in the background. During the Straight Outta Compton era his contribution to the vocals was limited, but he was suddenly a full-time rapper on the second album, Efil4zaggin, when Ice Cube left the group. During the sessions that would result in the Chronic album, Dre originally intended for Snoop Dogg to be the debut artist for Death Row, but again, was forced to step into center stage because he was the only "name" the label had at the time. Dre's commitment to the success of other artists is a primary element of both the Chronic and 2001 albums, as he always seems to be a guest star on his own releases. (In fact, many of Dre's verses have been ghost-written by Ice Cube, RBX, Snoop, and Eminem.)
"Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang" is an early example of all the qualities that make Dre the most successful rap producer of all time: the mix of 70s soul and gangsta attitude that would shape the G-Funk ideology and allowing Snoop to steal the song, gracefully deferring to the rapper with the flow smooth enough to match the laid back music. While Dre has been called an obsessive compulsive perfectionist and at times overly concerned with his reputation, the producer-rapper's role in constructing the G-Funk sound, classically represented by "Nuthin'," demonstrates that only one thing, at bottom, mattered to Dre: the music.