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The title might be confusing but The Defiant Ones is not a docu about activist millennials or children who act out. It’s a documentary mini series about artist Dr Dre and music business mogul Jimmy Iovine airing on HBO. It follows the rise and eventual intersection of their careers. Beyond the obvious music history aspect of the series, The Defiant Ones is about business, creativity, the mountains and valleys of life and making it through. Oh and there’s some fun rock-n-roll gossip because who doesn’t want to hear the juicy stuff?? Duh.
Here are the 12 interesting, gossip-y and inspiring things I learned from HBO’s four part docu-series, The Defiant Ones:
After Jimmy moved to California to produce albums with Tom Petty, he met witchy woman herself, Stevie Nicks and they began secretly dating and even produced her debut album during the same time including the awesome song, Edge of Seventeen. On day after Stevie moved into Jimmy’s house “in the woods” (aka the Valley), Tom Petty came over and because Jimmy was trying to hide their relationship from Tom, he asked Stevie to hide in the basement while he was over. GURL. No. When their secret relationship was outed, it put a strain on his friendship (and probably working relationship) with Tom Petty… especially after Jimmy turned a song of Tom’s into a big hit for Stevie… you’ll see him do this a few times throughout the series.
We’re talking John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, U2 and more. I always thought he was just a music business mastermind and not the ears behind some of rock’s best albums.
YES. THAT Liberty Ross of Robsten cheating scandal fame. The woman married to Rupert Sanders, who stared in Snow white and the Huntsman definitely leveled up with one of the top in the game. This again proves that indeed, everything goes back to Twilight. Sorry Liberty.
Who hasn’t had a few too many gin and tonics and went live on Facebook? Ok me, cause I’ve never personally gone live on Facebook BUT we know the feeling. Apparently after getting a bit too smashed a few nights before the Beats/Apple deal was to happen, Dre spilled the beans to Tyrese (WHY?!) who was in his studio, and then Tyrese who is apparently dumb and super WHO-y, broadcasted live that Dre was about to be a mega rich dude. OOPS. Thankfully for Dre and Jimmy’s agents and lawyers, the deal went through and everyone got hella rich. And Tyrese was probably never invited over again.
After a run in with the law, Dre was hella hesitant to even record what would become NWA’s Fuck the Police. Thankfully Ice Cube, who wrote the song insisted and well, history was made and faux outrage from moral groups was given a platform. Dre’s The Chronic album was almost not released because after years of legal trouble, NO ONE wanted to touch anything Dre related. Thankfully Jimmy and Interscope thought differently. Getcha a label who will take on lawsuits for you.
This documentary is not just about music and the business of it, it’s a history lesson and a business lesson tied up under the guise of a series about rap and the industry. The persistence that these two shared in stories and via their life is inspiring in more than just an artistic way. They shared the story of Jimmy calling Nine Inch Nails’ record label EVERY DAY for a YEAR to try to woo them away… and it eventually worked! When Dr Dre started out DJ-ing he would go every night to the club he wanted to play and talk to the owner till finally one night he was allowed inside… the club owner had no idea how he made it onstage, but Dre turned entrance into a club into his debut DJing there. He also shopped The Chronic to every label and was turned down and KEPT going.
After two flop albums, it took listening to an Eminem tape in Jimmy’s garage to give him new inspiration. Even when everyone told Dre it was a bad look to get involved with Eminem, they went into the studio and by created the Slim Shady LP, Dre was able to record his own album Chronic 2001.
While discussing the impetus to start Beats by Dre, Dre’s lawyer says that they are bombarded all the time with offers for endorsement deals, partnerships, clothing lines, you name it. And 99.9% of the time Dre says NO. He’s not a fashion guy, he’s not a food guy, he’s not a sports guy and so why would he offer his name to products that don’t make sense for him? The reason why Beats works so well as a venture for him (and Jimmy) is because of how much he cares about sound and speakers and how people hear music (and a really great marketing plan. Successful people learn to say NO and mean it. How often do we want to say YES to everything because of FOMO or perhaps it might be the next big thing. The lesson here is to say NO when it isn’t a HELL YES.
We start off the series learning about how Jimmy broke into the music industry by being a good producer but over the years he himself and other artists and business folks he works with can’t deny how good he is at marketing and selling. Beyond his knack for selling albums and artists, marketing Beats via musicians and athletes was a coup and sending them to Olympic athletes guaranteed they were seen my millions around the world.
You never know when you’re going to catch a big break or meet the right person… Jimmy Iovine was working as a PA at the Record Plant recording studio in the 70s when his boss called and asked if he could come in on Easter Sunday for work. Even though it was a holiday he showed up and who was there to work? Freaking JOHN LENNON. Literally, one of his first real recording gigs was recording John Lennon. Sometimes you just gotta SHOW UP.
While Jimmy was producing and recording Bruce Springsteen’s album, he noticed a song Bruce was probably not going to include on his album. Jimmy ended up passing it on to Patti Smith who turned it into a smash crossover. You probably know it… it’s called Because Of The Night:
Thanks to Suge Knight and an unprepared, hot headed moment, The ’95 Source Awards ignited the East Coast / West Coast rap beef that didn’t previously exist. According to Snoop and several other Death Row rappers, Suge is credited with starting what would ultimately end two artist’s lives.
I’ve always been a fan of stories, movies, and books about music but The Defiant Ones turned out to be so much more than the history of these two men. It inspired me in my own business outside of music and in life and I know you’ll like it too. Let me know what you think when you watch.
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