If you haven’t been watching The Defiant Ones, you need to start.
It’s no secret the music industry is constantly changing. It’s been said thousands of times already, and it will be said thousands of times more. But seeing is believing, and if you need to see then HBO’s The Defiant Ones will show you. The Defiant Ones is a four part mini series documentary that tells the story of the partnership between Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, and their creation of the massive record label Interscope Records (today worth upwards of $1 billion)
At the time of Interscope’s founding, the partnership between Dre and Iovine was “improbable” to say the least. Dre, an established hip hop producer, and Iovine was a former sound engineer for Bruce Springsteen. Iovine had struggled with the previous years in his career, and was seen as being on his way out of the industry. Refusing to give up, Jimmy Iovine starts Interscope Records and signs Dr. Dre to the label. Dr. Dre represented the growing hip hop genre. At the time hiphop was seen as a small, niche market within the larger music industry.
Soon, Iovine and Dr. Dre recognize the massive potential of the hip hop genre to grow into new markets, and together they start working to push the sound to a whole new level. To do so, the must find ways to push hip hop out of the corner of the market and into the spotlight. They sign standout new hip hop artists and implement an entirely new approach to the production and marketing efforts of these artists. The hip hop industry soon explodes under the innovations within Interscope records, and the label picks up artists Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and 50 Cent, who would grow to be icons in the music world.
A critical factor in the explosion of the hip hop industry was the way Dre and Iovine began pushing their artists to fans outside of the normal market. In the trailer embedded below, take note as to the moment when Snoop Dogg talks about wanting to be on the cover of Source magazine, a powerful publication for the hip hop industry. Instead, Iovine insists on getting Snoop Dogg published to Rolling Stone magazine, which has been the heartbeat of the entire music industry for decades. Soon after making it onto the cover of Rolling Stone, Snoop Dogg is shocked by the sudden boom in his following, specifically the large number of white people he attracted, which was like nothing he had ever seen. Irvine’s push to get on Rolling Stone is significant because it highlights the drive necessary to innovate, as well as the need for new artists to respect and use the current forces of the music industry to their advantage. The move is critical in garnishing respect and notoriety for the hip hop movement, establishing its place as a significant presence in the market.
With these strategic moves, the hip hop world becomes something bigger. The growth of hip hop allows for more fame and notoriety, along with more profits for artists and Interscope. As a result, the first hiphop superstars emerge soon after. The opening scene of the series starts with Dr. Dre celebrating the successful 2014 sale of Beats to Apple for $3 billion, making him the highest paid musician in the world. Besides getting paid, Dr. Dre is credited with fathering an entire generation of musicians, growing to become superstars in a field that previously didn’t have them.