Wednesday, July 28th 1999, 2:11AM

By Phyllis Furman

After two years of legal jousting, a dispute pitting gangsta rap pioneer Dr. Dre against buttoned-up accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers is heading for court.

Dr. Dre's $20 million lawsuit against the firm and one of its former principals, Steven Cantrock, has a trial date scheduled for early next year, said the rapper's attorney, Howard King.

The hip-hop performer and producer alleges that Cantrock mismanaged his business affairs, diverted his assets and gave him wrong information about his own finances as well as those of Death Row Records.

Dr. Dre, aka Andre Young, co-founded Death Row Records along with his former bodyguard, Marion (Suge) Knight, now serving a nine-year prison sentence for violating probation. Knight introduced Dre to Cantrock, who ultimately became business manager to both Dre and Death Row, King said.

"Steven Cantrock got enamored with this business - the diamonds, limos and jets," King said.

Cantrock's attorneys did not return phone calls and Pricewaterhouse lawyer Robert Schulman said the firm "believes there is no merit to the case and intends to defend the case vigorously."

If the case is not settled, the trial "will be closely watched from the hip-hop world to the entertainment business managers," King said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Dre, who now runs rap label Aftermath, has been keeping his lawyers busy. Last week, he filed a another lawsuit against Death Row, alleging copyright infringement.

Source: Daily News