A group of San Marcos and Austin residents joined forces Saturday to celebrate the birthday and legacy of one of hip-hop’s most influential producers, Dr. Dre.
The event, called Dre Day, is modeled after a theme held by Burlesque of North America, a graphic design company in Minneapolis. The annual bash began in 2003 and has since spread throughout the U.S. in cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Toronto.
“I don’t know how many parties are going on that we don’t know about, but the goal is to turn it into a national holiday,” said Mike Davis, principal and creative director at Burlesque of North America and one of the original coordinators for Dre Day.
The idea appealed to John Gross, the host of this year’s event, who decided to hold his own show in Austin after four weeks of planning. Gross deemed the impromptu daytime event a success, with more than 200 guests in attendance and local artists performing in tribute to Dr. Dre including P-Tek, Crew54, DJ Charlie and Bird Peterson.
Holy Mountain, a small venue located on East Seventh between Red River and Sabine Streets, was able to accommodate the celebration on short notice. The venue served gin and juice specials throughout the event to patrons enjoying the sunset and hip-hop on the covered patio.
“I really like a day party,” Gross said. “Beer and sunshine. Why doesn’t this happen all the time?”
Gross emceed the party under the stage name DJ GrossYall, opening the event with a mix of tracks produced by Dr. Dre and a few out-of-the-box tribute pieces. Gross’ co-host for the event was Leah Manners, host of Hip Hop Hooray, a Sunday afternoon radio show for KOOP 91.7 FM that focuses on positive, underground and international hip-hop music and culture.
Manners said she does not often play Dr. Dre on her show because much of his music is “misogynistic.” However, she said the influence of the West Coast rapper and producer on the hip-hop community as a whole cannot be ignored.
Backed by the talent of DJ Charlie, Crew54 performed a short four-song set covering Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg. The performers encouraged the audience to rap along to “The Next Episode,” one of Dr. Dre’s most famous singles. P-Tek commanded the audience in a way similar to rapper Eminem, taking volunteers onstage and even freestyling for a short time.
Bird Peterson was perhaps the most recognizable artist at the event with almost 10,000 likes on Facebook and various performances around the country under his belt.
Gross intends to hold a Dre Day celebration again next February and has already booked Holy Mountain for the event.