Rappers who have worked with Dr. Dre give their insights into how Dr. Dre works, in these excerpts from “How To Rap”…
1. If you’re mainly a producer, use ghostwriters to write raps
RBX: I wrote some things for Dre… Dre doesn’t profess to be no super-duper rap dude—Dre is a super-duper producer, so when we were trying to get some things together, sure, I wrote some things. I wrote “Let Me Ride” …in that instance I think I was working on some things and Dre heard it and was like, “Oh, wow, that’s hot right there. X, what are you gonna do with that?” And we spoke about it and I was like, “Sh-t, we’re trying to make the project hot—you say it and we’re gonna do it like that.”
2. Take your time to perfect a song
Stat Quo: Dr. Dre and Eminem just prefer you to make a hot song, no matter how long it takes— if you make a hit record every six months, nobody’s gonna be mad at that. If it takes you three months to write one “In Da Club,” that’s fine—records like that stay around forever.
3. Do vocal takes until they’re perfect
The Lady of Rage: That’s what I like—Dr. Dre and Premier, they both do that. If I’m laying down my lyrics and maybe I didn’t put enough into it or didn’t say it right, they’ll cut me off, they won’t let me go to the end of the rhyme. They’ll say, “Nah, nah, nah, do that again,” or “Do that better,” or “Say it like this,” and I like that—that doesn’t offend me or bother me.
4. Give rappers lots of direction
Devin the Dude: When I worked with Dr. Dre on his album 2001, he wanted a lot of input in it. He was real particular about it, about the way I said this or “Bring the bridge back in again”—certain ways like that he wanted to orchestrate it. Which was cool—at the time I wasn’t really used to that, but it was real cool,and I was very surprised and very fortunate to see some of the work ethics that he used.