With undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest producers and rappers returning to the musical limelight, can we expect new-age classics from the Compton legend or has it simply been too long?
Dr Dre is quite simply one of the most intelligent men in music. After amassing a huge fortune and a reputation most boy-bands could only ever dream of – even the most straight-laced listener will admit they have a soft spot for one or two of his tunes. The Aftermath and 2001 are some of the greatest albums ever to drop in the genre and had me rethinking about what it meant to be musically gifted. With 16 years having passed since his last album release which contained some of my favourite songs like “Forgot about Dre”, “Light Speed” and “Still Dre.” With a musical status such as Dre’s he still has the ability to call on old friends to help him create yet another album full of hard truths, huge beats and collaborations.
When you look at the roster of artists he pulled together to help on his latest album, Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Xzibit, The Game, Justus and many more, you can tell it’s a serious piece of work. With a gap in album release as long as 16 years, the pressure is certainly on for Dre. Production is going to be of the highest quality, especially from a man who is renowned for making incredibly tight drum beats and who even refused to release the long awaited Detox album because he didn’t believe it was good enough.
Fresh-faced Compton rapper Kendrick Lamar is fast becoming a legend of modern rap, and Dre can be seen to chase the modern sound and style to follow him. The album features prove their significance as the two can be seen as kindred spirits with Dre passing the crown onto Lamar – as his performance nearly outshines Dre’s. The album still provides hints of Dre’s NWA roots with tracks such as Animals (ft Anderson. Paak) which has a big drum beat and a nice calm riff to support it, and certainly “Just Another Day” performed by The Game has a very 80’s beat to it. Despite this there’s an undertone that much like the Beats gear, it’s an album that sells itself out a little to appease the masses.
The roster of hand-picked features by Dre provide a challenge for him to retain his status as the King of Compton – Eminem ups the ante on “Medicine Man” with a rawness from both rappers that listeners haven’t heard in years. On the other hand this track can be seen as the album’s downfall; its misogynistic content reminiscent of Dre’s violent past with women and perhaps displays a lack of maturity from the pair. This brings the album back to its focus – Compton and Dr Dre as a product of his environment; a positive is that the album provides a film-like view of Compton life to mirror the film release instead of cheesy inserts from the movie.
One thing cannot be dismissed with the album though, is the fact that it even exists and has been released. Dr Dre provides fans with the perfect accompaniment for the movie biopic – where it may not be perfect but doesn’t attempt to be a direct soundtrack for the movie. This allowed Dre some freedom – and most significantly can be seen as an ode to his past, love for his home and a possible goodbye to the crown to be passed onto the next generation. To say I love it would be stretching the term, but it certainly serves a purpose and grows on you with each well produced listen.
Verdict : 7/10
Author – Andrew, Weybridge