“I Need a Doctor” by Dr. Dre (ft. Eminem and Skylar Grey)
“I Need a Doctor” is based on mega producer Dr. Dre (the “doctor” in his title is not literal) himself needing a doctor. And once again, even though the music video portrays him as being in an auto accident, this is not meant to be taken literally. Rather it is based on the good Dr. no longer hitting like he used to. Or phrased differently, he is not trending in the music industry as he had times prior. Thus the title and Skylar Grey’s chorus actually point to the idea of him needing assistance (i.e. “a doctor”) in that regard.
Eminem comes to the rescue!
And here comes Eminem to save the day. This is largely due to him accrediting Dr. Dre with putting him on. Indeed in the midst of detailing his initial entry into the music industry, Marshall Mathers actually recounts the reverse racism he was a victim of. But Dre stood with him throughout, even risking his own livelihood in introducing Shady to the game. And as we all know, Dr. Dre is also Eminem’s long-time collaborator, homey and label boss.
So a good way of deciphering Em’s lyrics in this song is as the rapper not forgetting who put him on. And accordingly, it is breaking his heart to witness Dre going through a stagnate and depressing period in his career. And the way it plays out within the artistic theme of the track is that Dre is on life support if you will, and Eminem totally refuses to pull the plug.
Dr. Dre steps in
So when Dr. Dre does enter the song, he starts off by recalling the first time Eminem stepped into the studio, and those present mocked him. But the haters were promptly quieted due to Slim’s lyrical skills. And Dre also notes that in the past he had quite a few homeys, and there were other individuals he successfully introduced to the music industry outside of Eminem. Yet now that he is in dire straits, none of his “fair-weather friends” are present. Instead it is only “Slim” who is by his side.
But of course, those familiar with Dre knows he’s not the type to sweat these types of situations. Rather he curses the aforementioned “backstabbers” and vows that they will regret their treacherous actions. Or as the old adage goes, the best revenge is success. So Dre is out to show and prove via once again catching wreck on the musical tip. And the Dr. concludes by insinuating that he will soon retire from music industry. But before he does so, he’s going to reaffirm his status as one of the hottest artists in the game.
Facts about “I Need a Doctor”
The instrumental and its accompanying hook were put together by Skylar Grey alongside the track’s producer, Alex da Kid.
Inspired by such, Eminem was able to pen his verses within the timespan of a couple of hours. Reportedly Skylar shed tears upon first hearing Em’s associated vocals.
Alex da Kid introduced the idea of having superstar songstress Lady Gaga sing the hook in Skylar Grey’s stead. But Eminem insisted that Skylar indeed remain on the song.
This track went on to become a respectable international success, despite it leaking some months prior to its official release.
“I Need a Doctor” peaked at number 3 on the UK Singles Chart and number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100, in addition to charting in over 15 other countries.
The track has also been certified double-Platinum in both Australia and the United States.
Additionally “I Need a Doctor” was nominated for a couple of Grammy Awards in 2012.
The music video to the track was directed by prominent movie director Allen Hughes (of the Hughes brother).
And despite featuring the kind of product placements some have come to expect in a Dr. Dre video (such as for his headphones, Beats by Dre), the video still garnered in excess of 100 million views on YouTube as early as mid-2012.
Writing Credits for “I Need a Doctor”
“I Need a Doctor” was written by Dr. Dre, Eminem, Skylar and Alex da Kid.
Aftermath Entertainment and Interscope Records released “I Need a Doctor” as a standalone single on 1 February 2011.