LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Rapper Eminem, whose new album is expected to top the U.S. pop chart next week, made a rare appearance at a music-industry bash on Friday to honor Dr. Dre, the hip-hop pioneer who made him a superstar.
Dr. Dre received the Founders Award for career achievement during performing rights group ASCAP's annual Rhythm & Soul Music Awards ceremony at a Beverly Hills hotel.
Born Andre Young 45 years ago, Dr. Dre rose to fame in the 1980s as a member of rap group N.W.A. before going solo and launching Death Row Records. He also shepherded the careers not only of Eminem, but also 2Pac, Snoop Dogg and 50 Cent, and produced recordings for artists as diverse as Gwen Stefani and Mary J. Blige.
"He believed in me when not many others did," Eminem told the audience. "It would have been a lot easier for Dre to dismiss me like most people did: What's with the white guy from Detroit that raps with a funny voice? But he didn't. He stepped up to the challenge because he saw something in me."
Dr. Dre signed Eminem to his Aftermath Entertainment label in 1998, and his protege is set to score his sixth consecutive U.S. No. 1 album next week with "Recovery." Eminem generally avoids big showbiz events, preferring the seclusion of his Detroit home. He did not even show up at the Academy Awards in 2003 to collect his Oscar for best song.
For his part, during a speech filled with pauses as he fought back tears, Dr. Dre said he was "living an incredible life," and paid tribute to his mother, who got pregnant with him when she was 15.
"She was always told by family, friends and neighbors or whatever she was going to ruin her life and mine," he said.
Other honorees included Terius "The-Dream" Nash, C. "Tricky" Stewart, and Ne-Yo as songwriters of the year. Nash and Stewart collaborated along with others on such hits as Beyonce's "Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)" and Jamie Foxx's "Blame It." Ne-Yo co-wrote hits for Keri Hilson and Jennifer Hudson as well as for himself.
Eclectic funk newcomer Janelle Monae, whose work draws inspiration from James Brown and David Bowie, received the Vanguard Award for emerging artists.
"As colored people, we're not all monolithic. We're not all the same. We should always celebrate our differences," said the pompadoured 24-year-old singer. Her debut album, "The ArchAndroid," reached No. 17 on the U.S. pop chart last month.
ASCAP, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers, collects royalties on behalf of its member songwriters and copyright holders when their compositions are played on TV and radio, and in public places like bars and arenas.
Reporting by Dean Goodman; Editing by Jackie Frank