Review: The Defiant Ones
A week after Diddy's Can't Stop Won't Stop documentary was released, Dr. Dre & Jimmy Iovine paired with HBO to bring us a 4-part documentary about Interscope Records, The Defiant Ones. This documentary is AMAZING; one of the best I've ever seen, which is why Dre is my favorite producer. It proves Aftermath gets the last laugh, and Dr. Dre is the greatest of all time!
The Defiant Ones takes us on an Interscope rollercoaster of sorts, the ups, the downs, the good, bad & ugly. The opening sequence features the announcement of Apple buying Beats for 3.2 billion dollars, and Dre regretting breaking the news early on social media with Tyrese, of all people.
With special guests ranging from Nas, Diddy, Snoop Dogg and more, we're shown vintage studio footage of NWA recording music with some amazing stories being told. I love everything about this; it's cool to see artists in the studio, and viewing the process of an album being created.
The D.O.C's story was exceptional, but also sad, after Dre explained how his (D.O.C.) car accident happened, it's a truly blessing D.O.C. survived. D.O.C had talent like no other; no swearing in his rhymes, just raw passionate rap skills at its finest. And he wasn't even from the West Coast, as D.O.C. hails from Dallas, Texas, but with the help of Dr. Dre's production on his first album No One Can Do It Better, the D.O.C damn sure had a West Coast sound.
After watching this documentary 3 times, it was clear that Interscope Records were the juggernaut of the music industry. From the origin story of Jimmy Iovine, starting off slow with fading musical acts to creating a monster like 2Pac. By the way they told the story it’s safe to assume 2Pac was the first Hip-Hop artist to actually sign with Interscope in 1991 when he dropped his debut album 2Pacalypse Now.
The introductions to the stories in the documentary are like no other; when 2Pac is introduced we’re shown a clip from the Brenda's Got a Baby video while is Pac walking with a group of people, then all you hear is Shed So Many Tears. When I say I had to rewind his story back, I really had to! This part of the documentary just exposes how incredible Pac was, the man was a machine, and the House Of Blues footage where he performs Troublesome ‘96 will give you chills! Pac's stage presence was incredible; he had all the energy and passion in the world, it's clear why he's one of the greatest of all time, and it's a damn shame he went through what he went through. It seemed as if 2Pac had nobody positive in his corner in the music business, and on the street he was betrayed, lied to and under a scope throughout his whole career & life. 2Pac's history from the streets of New York to gangs in LA is very interesting, and something not too many people knew about; hopefully we'll get that explained in John Singleton's version of 2Pac's biopic because the All Eyez On Me film was not it! The ‘95 Source Awards was a great highlight of the documentary with Diddy still haunted about Suge Knight's "come to Death Row" pitch. From the looks of it there were no damn security guards in that building at all; somebody was waiting on somebody to act up and it would've been a Hip-Hop Royal Rumble, especially with Snoop adding fuel to the fire with his "y'all don't love us!?" rant.
Eminem's journey is displayed by Dre reminiscing on their first studio session of recording My Name Is and Em making a good impression the first 20 seconds of the record, which just proves the greatness of Eminem, and the chemistry him and Dre have is unmatched.
This documentary is one of favorites of all time already but there was a missing piece in this film on the Hip-Hop side, and I think everyone knows who and what it is, 50 Cent. How could you make a documentary about the adventures of Interscope Records and not include 50 Cent and the G-Unit in it? Not give anybody a call to tell their story? Not even DJ Whoo Kid? 50 did so much, and made so much money for Interscope from late 2002-2007. It was just breezed over, and a clip of Jimmy Iovine came out explaining his point of view in how he told 50 he's not sure if he likes him, and takes credit for his successful TV deals like his recent show Power. 50 and Jimmy have had issues for years now, and it goes back to 2007 during the Curtis album run; 50 felt like the label wasn't supporting him enough, even as he went heads up against Kanye West, so he got frustrated and basically said "fuck Jimmy Iovine, I ain't got no boss!” You can even say he's being blackballed, and it cost 50 his relationship with Dr. Dre, which is a damn shame because 50 & Dre made great music together. A couple of years ago, 50 stated the other main tension between him & the label was that he did not want to do the Beats deal in 2008 because he wanted to start his own headphone line SMS Audio.
In the documentary, the segment about the 3.2 billion dollar Beats deal is amazing! It touches on Beats Music turning into Apple Music, sports players pushing the headphones, and you'll hear people say you weren't walking into the Interscope office without a pair of Beats on your head, and your picture being taken. Eminem even states that they had to add more time shooting a video just to add an additional scene of someone wearing Beats. Out of nowhere, one of the executives says "if you refuse to put the Beats headphones in your videos, your budget might get cut!” Unreal right?
And that goes back to 50 Cent; 50 said that Interscope turned into Beats Records and now you understand what he meant.
The Defiant Ones is brilliant and you’ll find all the answers you were looking for in Straight Outta Compton; everything from beefs, the Dee Barnes domestic violence altercation, more in-depth analysis on the riots, Ruthless Records, Death Row vs. Bad Boy, and politics trying to block rap. This documentary is like a spin-off, and prequel.
The Defiant Ones is one of the best documentaries I've ever seen, and it's so inspiring! If you're not somewhat inspired after watching this… then I don't know what to tell you! I'm going to watch this over again and again, because it's that damn good!
I'm giving The Defiant Ones a 9.5 out of 10. You can catch The Defiant Ones on HBO or stream all 4 parts on HBO Go/HBO Now.