“The Defiant Ones,” the documentary about the lives and careers of Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine, comes out on Blu-ray and DVD today, and while the four part documentary occasionally over-romanticizes these two industry icons, it is a masterfully produced must-see for anyone who cares about evolution of the modern music industry.
Director Allen Hughes followed Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine over a three year period to film the documentary, "The Defiant Ones." In it, the pair share individual and then intersecting stories of their work with artists ranging from Snoop Dog to Bruce Springsteen and the Nas to Bono. Many of these artists shared their recollections, as well.
Spread over four decades, the pair are portrayed as a bold resistors of authority, and particularly early in their careers that was certainly true. But in addition to drive, both also shared a strong desire to become part of the music making machinery that they often railed against.
It is that ability to thrive in two conflicting worlds – the defiant and often turbulent lives and creative workings of groundbreaking musicians and the resistant to change boardrooms of major music companies – that were Dre and Iovine’s real strengths.
After their separate and collective successes enabled the merger of these two worlds, there was no stopping this pair. The post-Napster collapse of the music industry was a mere bump in the road, as they shifted their attention to Beats and an eventual $3.2 billion dollar sale to Apple.
Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine may not be the transcendent heroes that their public narrative, and in many ways this film, projects. But they are key and wildly successful figures in an industry that touches every corner global culture. "The Defiant Ones" captures that cultural significance wonderfully.