Dre Day–the holiday, not the song–was first celebrated in 2003. Life Sucks Die magazine’s Andrew Broder had recently released a song called “What a Day Day” (under the pseudonym Fog), soliciting a slew of puns from his coworkers: “What a Dre Day” stuck. Dr. Dre admirers that they were, Broder’s friends decided to transform their inter-office joke into a nationally celebrated holiday, to correspond with the rapper’s birthday: February 18. “The idea [was to] throw an event where everybody listened to his music, indulged in party-enhancing snacks, and did whatever else one could to celebrate the enormously influential music career of the Doctor,” says co-founder Mike Davis.
The inaugural event, held in Minneapolis, was a rousing success, to say the least. Local punk icons Dillinger Four covered Dre’s hits, though pretty much anything the producer had touched became fair game: DJs played a selection of 50 Cent, NWA, Mary J, 2Pac, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and so on. Oh, and it helped that the magazine had a handful of amazing graphic designers on hand (they later grew into Burlesque of North America) to really get nerdy with it, debuting their Dr. Dre sticker pack, featuring quotes from The Chronic. Future Dre Days would include screen-printed 40-oz paper bags, a homemade version of the $20 Sack Pyramid, and a Dre Museum, featuring a scale replica of the ’64 Impala from the “Let Me Ride” video. A fridge filled with 40s of Olde English often graced the stage, with a wooden cutout of a weed leaf hanging from the ceiling. Sounds epic, right?
The party’s notoriety grew. Turntable Lab and Giant Robot began to sell (and sell out of) the Dre Day sticker packs. And what was once an inside joke soon branched out to cities all over the U.S. Last night marked the third anniversary of the event here in New York, and we were there, at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, to take it in. Briefly.
When we arrived, it looked like the sort of the crowd you’d see at one of the Rub’s shows, but maybe that’s just because Cosmo Baker was on the decks. The night also featured the DJ stylings of organizer Project Matt, Cubic Zirconia’s Nick Hook, Turntable Lab’s Egg Foo Young, and Rok One. (We think we saw Unemployed Lloyd jump on the turntables, too). Of the massive posse onstage (rap show!), one particularly inebriated fellow sat on the leopard-print, low-rider bike onstage, shouting along with Dre’s lyrics while half of Brooklyn’s electro-club massive milled about. The DJs switched off rather frequently: We heard Blackstreet, Busta Rhymes, and even Eminem’s “My Name Is” during our short while there. Huge shout-out to whoever played the “I Got 5 on It” remix with Dre and Nas (even if it is awful). I was about to get salty over the Luniz’ lack of a Dre connection.
Oh, about that “during our short while there” thing: Our night pretty much ended when an MC yelled, “Who’s up for a wet t-shirt contest? This is about getting high and fucking girls, or dudes, or girls that look like dudes,” all while “Foe Tha Love of $” played above. We thought he was kidding, and only realized he wasn’t when two onstage wasted girls were doused with official Dre Day water bottles–cuing us to leave.
Still, overall, this remains the greatest Dre-themed event around for fans and party people alike, if only for the free stickers scattered about. And though February 18th has now passed, it doesn’t mean you have to stop celebrating: Find some snacks, listen to this Dre Day mix, and you’re set.