Jimmy Iovine, Director Allen Hughes Reflect On '90s Culture at 'Defiant Ones' Premiere

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Dr. Dre (left) and Jimmy Iovine

The new documentary series tracks Iovine and Dr. Dre’s careers and decades-long partnership.

Instead of using a typical red carpet, the Los Angeles premiere of HBO’s four-part documentary, The Defiant Ones, opted for something a little different — a carpet with what looked like black and grey soundwaves. The two subjects of the show, record producer Jimmy Iovine and rapper-producer Dr. Dre, made names for themselves by being different, and their storied partnership was the subject of reflection throughout Thursday night.

“The ‘90s was probably the last hurrah of great recording artists,” said Defiant Ones director Allen Hughes (Menace II Society, The Book of Eli, Dr. Dre’s "I Need a Doctor" music video). “You still get great artists, but not like you did 15 to 20 years ago, 30 years ago. So now it’s time to look back … they didn’t tell these stories then.”

Hughes has been friends with Iovine and Dr. Dre for years. “I’ve always looked up to them as artists, as businessmen, as friends, as brothers," he said. "That was the tough part, too, because you’ve got to be honest and know them at the same time.” Ultimately, Hughes looked at what Iovine and Dr. Dre meant on both a personal level and a larger scale. “It’s the culture I grew up in and was a part of, and [Jimmy and Dr. Dre] were spearheading it.”

He added: “Jimmy and Dre are the prism we’re seeing this whole world through. So, you get a lot of mini-documentaries, whether it be an Eminem documentary, a Nine Inch Nails documentary or an N.W.A documentary.” To him, the pair were the “ultimate collaborators.”

Friend and collaborator Xzibit wanted to distinguish Iovine and Dr. Dre from today’s celebrity culture. “As much as everybody feels that they’re successful and they can look on their [Instagram] and everybody’s a celebrity now, what these guys have accomplished needs to be separated from that,” he said.

For Iovine, making a mark on culture was always the goal. He's worked with the likes of John Lennon, Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty, Stevie Nicks, Trent Reznor, Dr. Dre and so many more, and has grown a billion-dollar-plus business with Dr. Dre in Beats. And he compares the wave he was a part of in the ‘90s to a similar one about 30 years prior.

“When something happens like this, that means it’s in the air,” said Iovine. “When the English invasion happened, 20 bands came over with bangs and haircuts. They didn’t copy each other. They just came. You think it’s all planned out, but it’s not.”

The Defiant Ones is set to debut Sunday, July 9, at 9 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.

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