Jimmy Iovine’s Advice — Be Like a Race Horse

Defiant Ones is a 4-part documentary airing this week on HBO. It’s about the friendship between record executive Jimmy Iovine and rapper/producer Dr. Dre, culminating in the sale of Beats Electronics to Apple for $3.1 billion in 2014.

In the fourth installment (all parts are streaming on demand), there is a lot of discussion about Eminem’s early years. His music is politically-incorrect and he’s a white kid in a predominantly-black genre of music — it’s a tough sell. But it works. Eminem goes on to sell something like five billion records.

Throughout the documentary, Iovine is seen to be continuously playing with fire, doing things that by all conventional logic seem quite ridiculous. The Eminem thing is just another one.

“I don’t give a fuck what anybody thinks,” Iovine says. “When you’re a race horse, the reason they put blinders on these things is because if you look at the horse on the left or the right, you’re going to miss a step. That’s why the horses have blinders on. And that’s what people should have. When you’re running after something, you should not look left or right — what does this person think, what does that person think? No. Go.”

It’s rather simple advice — tough to follow, of course — but worth paying attention to. Hey, it seemed to work for him and Dr. Dre.

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Wrote for the New York Times, New York Magazine, Esquire, Rolling Stone, Vice, Fader, Vibe, XXL, MTV News, many other places.

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