Dr Dre (L) and rapper T.I. (2L) on a shoot on ‘Chasing A Star’ for E! in 2001.
“He didn’t have the right stuff and that’s why his name is kind of bad,” E says of Dr Dre. “I think that Dr Dre was a great rapper and a great guy, but I don’t think he was a great businessman.” He adds he thinks that E is “crazy that the guy can actually work with people that he didn’t do anything with.”
“I wish it wasn’t a thing,” says E about the label. “But I guess it’s a big part of who I am.”
A couple years ago, E and I sat down to drink and talk, and I asked him about the process to create the E.The music itself came to him via his friend, singer-songwriter Timbaland. When he was growing up, E would often find something off the radio or listen to a song on the radio by a pop star: “I remember watching my music videos on MTV, and I see the guys in suits, and I look at them and go, ‘This is it! This is their business model.'”
With T.I., the relationship wasn’t so cordial but E says that he was able to pull out elements his best friend had created (or even created). A big part of the music is E’s personal brand—the E’s and I’s and I Love’s and T.I.’s. I tried to learn as much as I could about how E created or came to the decisions he made. I told him that his music—both music that he created and music that he performed—is as much about connecting with fans as it is trying to sell records. If he couldn’t connect with listeners that way in a studio, he said he would have to make it his business.
“I always thought that music is art,” E says. “It was always a passion for me and when I started producing, it was just art. I had to earn to make my art and that would never stop.
“I was always like, ‘It’s not gonna happen unless I have a record. I can’t just make another record.’ It could come up. It could be a hit and I just can’t sell it.”
By the end of the session, I knew if I were to play what was left of the studio for everyone on the