Dr. Dre’s The Chronic was the first CD I ever bought and it is what turned me into the hip hop fan that I am today. Dre was my favorite artist when I started listening to hip hop, before future favorites 2Pac, Biggie, and Jay-Z. G Funk and Death Row were my world (well as much they can be for some white suburban kid in New York). I never went all the way and bought a White Sox hat, mostly because I was scared of how stupid I would look when I wore it.
As for 2001, that is in my Top 5 for favorite albums ever. Maybe it’s because it came out when I was at an age where I was starting to party more and it was chock full with party songs. Maybe it’s because it merged the old Dre crew (Snoop, Kurupt, etc.) with the new Dre crew (Eminem, Xzibit). Or maybe, just maybe it’s because it’s an INCREDIBLE album. Just two instant classics by the most successful man in hip hop history (N.W.A., Death Row, Snoop, Eminem, 5o Cent, The Game, Beats By Dre, etc. etc. etc.). And this tweet was crazy and made me feel extremely old.
Which brings us to Compton. If you didn’t buy it, you can listen to it streaming on Apple Music here. I was obvisouly stoked for this album to come out. I waited for years to hear Detox. Anytime I caught wind of a rumor about Detox, it would send me down a rabbit hole going through random hip hop sites which ended up saying something like “Xzibit said Dre is ready to drop Detox shortly.” Which was obviously all bullshit. Once Compton was announced out of the blue, I was thrilled and I immediately pre-ordered the album on iTunes. But I was also a little nervous that it was coming out to help promote the N.W.A.-inspired movie Straight Outta Compton while also being tied to the newly-launched Apple Music. But I figured Dr. Dre is a perfectionist and he would come through like he always does.
But I was wrong. Now in my eyes, it’s not really Dre’s fault. His albums have always been about the beats and then finding the perfect artists to rap over them. And as always, Dre delivers with some incredible music. Do I think there is a beat that compares to Nuthin But A ‘G’ Thang or The Next Episode? No. But you can still nod your head to many of the songs on the album. The real problem lies in the voices dropping the lyrics. Kendrick Lamar is good, even though I’ve never considered myself a Kendrick Lamar fan. I enjoyed listening to former Dre apprentices Snoop and Eminem. And even though he isn’t known for his rapping per se, Dre does a good job. The best way I could put it is that hearing Dre and Kendrick on a track gave me the feeling in my stomach I would get if I picked up a star in Mario Kart. But when other rappers came on the track, I got the feeling in my stomach that I would get after picking up a green shell or a banana. Just disappointment while hoping things would get better soon. When Dre did this with unknown rappers on his first two albums, it worked fine. But a lot of those rappers would become stars, like Snoop, Kurupt, Nate Dogg (R.I.P.), Xzibit, and so on.
Now I am sure I will hear the people say that this album is about more than being good music you want to listen to, just like they say with all the new Kanye albums. It’s about the “art” of it all. But that’s BS. I can listen to The Chronic and 2001 from front to back and be blown away the entire time without skipping one track. That is simply not the case with Compton. And it has nothing to do with me building it up too much, because 2001 was built up in my mind higher than the Empire State Building and it STILL exceed my expectations.
So this is how I would compare Dr. Dre’s run to real life:
The Chronic = 1st Bulls threepeat
Been There, Done That = Return wearing the 4-5
2001 = 2nd Bulls threepeat
Compton = The Wizard years
And before I get called out for being too critical for calling the album the MJ Wizard years, don’t forget that those seasons had some highlights. Like the two-handed block of Ron Mercer.
Anyway, after I listened to the stream, this happened:
Yup, I cancelled my preorder. I knew I would never want to listen to the album again. If I want to hear a song, I can find it on YouTube. So yeah, thumbs down on Compton. And it breaks my goddamn heart.