Did Dr. Dre Discover Burning Man?
For years, fans have shared a viral letter allegedly penned by Dr. Dre about how he stumbled upon Burning Man while scouting locations for the “California Love” music video.
For a festival conceived as a Dadaist temporary autonomous zone—or to non-owners of The Anarchist Cookbook, a hippie-dippy non-hierarchical community devoid of structures of control—Burning Man has become a very costly endeavor; an ayahuasca-soaked post-apocalyptic-styled playground for the 1 percent. This year’s edition will see former reality star Paris Hilton, Hollywood actor Will Smith, and conservative blowhard Grover Norquist park their pimped-out campers in the desert and mix it up amid towering structures and half-naked revelers.
While the event now attracts upwards of 70,000 people who shell out hundreds—sometimes thousands—of dollars for tickets, back in 1995, Burning Man only consisted of 5,000 attendees, and wasn’t yet open to the public. And it’s that year that Dr. Dre allegedly tried to Christopher Columbus Burning Man.
Back in 2011, a tumblr called “Dr. Dre Started Burning Man” popped up. The site alleged that Dre had happened upon Burning Man while scouting locations with director Hype Williams to shoot the music video for his track with Tupac, “California Love,” and had offered to pay for their permit in exchange for a slice of entrance fees from the fest—which hadn’t yet been implemented. It offered as evidence a handwritten letter from Dre to then-girlfriend (now wife) Nicole Threatt. “We met a bunch of crazy, naked motherfuckers in the desert today, they were putting up some type of giant wood man,” the letter reads.You can view it here:
Burning Man representative Dasha G penned a nebulous blog post at the time addressing the Dre claim, but neither confirming nor denying its veracity. The letter seems to resurface every year around Burning Man time, and hasn’t been commented on by the Dre camp—until now.
The Daily Beast spoke to someone close within the Dr. Dre camp who, sadly, assured us that the letter is not only made up, but that the letter was brought to Dre’s attention last year and that “Dr. Dre had no idea what Burning Man was.”
Here’s the music video for “California Love,” inspired by the movie Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, to help raise your spirits: