“I’ve had such a traumatic career, but such a fortunate career at the same time.” – Dr Dre.
The Defiant Ones charts the relentless rise of Jimmy Iovine and Andre ‘Dr Dre’ Young, and the relationship between the two leading up to the 2014 sale of Beats Electronics to Apple. Allen Hughes’ documentary draws a parallel between the pair’s humble beginnings and their revolutionary work ethic, as detailed by fellow industry execs, multi-platinum musicians, friends and family.
Gripping from the get-go, the HBO doc explores the incredible things that Dre and Iovine achieved and endured throughout their careers in a turbulent industry – made all the more dangerous by Iovine’s apparent fascination with controversial artists (he followed his experience with the infamous Death Row Records by signing Marilyn Manson, for example). While The Defiant Ones stays firmly in the corners of those depicted, it also paints a fair portrait of two people drawn together through an unprecedented ambition to be different from their peers.
While the documentary may be called rose-tinted by critics of Iovine and Dr Dre, it certainly doesn’t shy away from discussing their flaws. Numerous references to Iovine’s work ethic as “ruthless” and “brutal”, as well as a thoughtful segment detailing Dre’s arrests for drink driving and violent episodes, are woven into the story to provide the three-dimensional image that the story needs to be fully believed. Writer/director Allen Hughes (who was present during some of the altercations mentioned in the doc), merges great storytelling with great advice, and a great cast of crown-bearing talking heads.
Venturing from introducing America to gangsta rap and Iovine’s relationship with post-Fleetwood Stevie Nicks to Dr Dre discovering Eminem and the pair pioneering streaming before Steve Jobs thought it was possible, it’s undeniable that the duo were a serious force in the industry before headphones were even mentioned. The Defiant Ones appears the perfect platform for them to pause and admit that luck and hard work (seriously, seriously hard work) was really all they needed to achieve the legendary status they enjoy today.
The four-part series is witty at times, heartbreaking at others, and contains some shocking details that even the hardcore Dre fans may not be aware of. It spans nearly 50 years of stunning anecdotes and experiences and is a must-see, if only to hear some of the phenomenal ups and downs these people went through to bring us those brightly coloured headphones we now see on every high street.
The Defiant Ones is available on Netflix UK, as part of £7.99 monthly subscription.