The Defiant Ones Inspires Possibility

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HBO’s The Defiant Ones sheds light on the lives of music moguls Dr. Dre and Jimmy Iovine.

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I knew after catching a glimpse of the trailer that this four part documentary would be compelling but I didn’t realize the raw emotions I’d experience while watching it.

The show kicks off at the pinnacle of Iovine and Dr. Dre’s success, with the announcement of the sale of Beats to Apple for $3B in 2014 and candid reactions. It then transitions into a retro walk down memory lane and the people, places and experiences that helped shape the legacies of these two outliers.

The intertwining stories of Iovine and Dre have been well documented over the years through various articles, interviews, biopics, etc. but none have quite captured the raw emotions or told the story quite like Director Allen Hughes. For me, the first couple of episodes really struck a chord, particularly episode 2.

The rise of Iovine from being a Longshoreman’s son and just another kid from Brooklyn to getting a shot at working in the studio with John Lennon and becoming an acclaimed Engineer and Producer for Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Patti Smith and Stevie Nicks speaks volumes. Not just the hit songs that were created but the decisions that were made, the late nights and long hours and all the personal turmoil that became the ingredients for his long term success.


The human touch is what makes you connect with this story further. From the anecdotes of Iovine’s sister Janet Mormile growing up together and in the importance of keeping family close, to revealing interviews by Petty, Bono and Stevie Nick’s while collaborating with Iovine were really interesting. You begin to see how the mind of a music and marketing genius works. He connects with people on another level while also remaining firm and standing his ground on a vision regardless of consequences.

As you see this mentality develop, you see Iovine carry those principles throughout each phase of his career. From launching Interscope Records, signing Dr. Dre, Marilyn Manson, Nine Inch Nails, co-founding Beats by Dre. to becoming the head of Apple Music, you witness the calculated domino affect that took place. Dude has moxy, charisma, toughness and a relentless work ethic for days. Passion for music aside, I don’t care what industry you work in, if you’re not inspired by this level of hustle, check your pulse.

Iovine found his counterpart in Dr. Dre who mastered the same mentality through different personalities. They’re both very calculated, willing to take risks against advice and know when to pivot to execute an idea. Dre is a very stoic creator and keeps his private life close to his chest. The emotions revealed through his eyes and his words in this doc is very revealing. The release of Straight Outta Compton last year certainly shared the making of Dr. Dre and N.W.A. but it didn’t quite capture his thought process.

You can see the anguish, contemplation and triumph in his eyes. His talent is immeasurable but his composure is equally admirable. To stay true to his art while dealing with the loss of so many loved ones throughout his life would’ve broke most people. Early success doesn’t always equal longevity, especially in the cut throat music industry. If Dre didn’t stick to his guns and the creative vision for his debut solo album The Chronic and deal with multiple rejections before being embraced by Iovine and Interscope Records, there is no Death Row, Snoop, Eminem, 50 Cent, Kendrick Lamar, Beats, billion dollar deals or the overall inspiration for this series.

There are so many layers to The Defiant Ones that it reflects the fine line these influencers walked between success and complete disaster. The choices that were made have not only defined their own lives but have redefined music creation, consumption and pop culture as we know it.

Hats off to Hughes and the entire team at HBO for their story telling ability. The Defiant Ones is a powerful must see documentary.  This story is for those who are inspired by endless possibilities if they are willing to defy the odds, fine tune their craft and work hard enough to create their own luck.


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