For all the bluster and mythmaking that’s been spun over the 25-odd years of the partnership between Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, it’s easy for longtime observers to forget the fact that this odd couple really does have a remarkable story.
That oddness wasn’t lost on HBO or director Allen Hughes, whose documentary on the two, “The Defiant Ones,” premieres on July 9. The doc focuses on the relationship between Iovine and Dre, who came from very different background but clicked on a level that transcended race, age, and experience — and not only changed the sound of hip-hop with Dre’s “The Chronic” album, released through Interscope Records when Iovine was chief of the label, but also with Beats by Dre headphones, which has become a kingdom within Apple’s empire including Beats 1 radio and more.
“We both grew up racially charged neighborhoods,” Iovine said at a Television Critics Association press tour earlier this year. “This is about the relationship between a white guy and black guy at a time when the country in this moment is so screwed up in this area… We stayed together under some of the most difficult working circumstances you could possibly have.”
The pair’s unlikely journey — which also includes Interscope’s departure from Time Warner’s Atlantic Records in the mid-1990s as part of the witch hunt against “gangsta rap” — is laid out in great detail in the documentary, and includes detailed interviews with the pair as well as Bono, Eminem, Nas, Ice Cube, Gwen Stefani, Tom Petty, Trent Reznor, Snoop Dogg, and Bruce Springsteen.
And while this doc will probably take the pair’s mythmaking to an even higher level, it remains a great story.