After taking a 16 year sabbatical, gaining mountains of excitement for his brainchild album Detox , which no longer exists and venturing into the business side, becoming Hip-Hop’s first billionaire, legendary super-producer, Dr. Dre, has reached the pinnacle of his long, highly decorated career with his third and final studio album, Compton, that released exclusively to iTunes last Friday.
For the last 16 years, Detox, became more mythic than truth, with the possibility of an actual release date fading away, as hope for the LP diminished.
In 2010 and 2011, Dre released his first two singles for the now deceased project called I Need A Doctor, with Eminem and Skylar Grey, and Kush with Snoop Dogg and Akon. Even with these highly regarded tracks, the album disappointedly never came to surface.
It seemed as if the Doctor was done prescribing all dosage of music for the public, that is until ten days ago, Dre announced on his radio show, The Pharmacy, that he was scrapping the infamous Detox album, citing it “just wasn’t good enough”, and instead decided to release Compton, a soundtrack for the upcoming film, Straight Outta Compton, and suddenly Christmas came early for Hip-Hop heads.
Compton is able to satisfy even the average music listener as Dre finds a way to create defining magic and thrilling records on what is already a potential album of the year candidate.
The 16-track LP is an album about self-sacrifice, success, failure, the extravagant lifestyle, and most of all, enduring the vicious streets of Los Angeles.
At 50 years old, Dre raps as if he is still that kid on the come up in the streets of Compton, as his disregard for the authorities still remains, as he raps on It’s All On Me, “Any given day, like, what the f*ck?/Face down on the pavement with the billy clubs/Took that feeling to the studio and queued it up/Now it’s ‘F*ck tha Police’ all up in the club.”
His wealthy lifestyle is more than subtle on tracks such as Talk About It. “I remember selling instrumentals off a beeper/Millionaire before the headphones or the speakers/I was getting money ‘fore the internet/Still got Eminem checks I ain’t opened yet/MVP sh*t, this is where the trophies at”, as his boastful rhymes and intricate storytelling reaches places, we have not witnessed for years.
Another satisfying element, is the various ensemble of features congregated for the album, ranging from a school of his protégés such as King Mez, and Anderson Paak, to the likes of artists who have gained more exposure over the years such as Jon Connor, BJ the Chicago Kid and Marsha Ambrosius , to Compton natives, Game and Kendrick Lamar, kicking back to the old school of Hip-Hop such as Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Xzibit and of course Eminem, as each of these features knows their purpose on the album, giving nothing less than remarkable storytelling and brilliant wordplay, as each of these individuals offers their worth.
The production speaks for itself, as Dre implements shades of classic soul, darker remnants of Jazz influence and explosive instrumental, as he collaborates with a firm set of producers, including DJ Dahi, DJ Khalil, DJ Premier, Cardiak and many others as the orchestra-like creation and feel-good vibes are back from D-R-E.
On the intro, we are afforded a dramatic narrative and quick history of Compton, noting that the city was once a place of dreams and hopefulness, eventually falling into an obscure habitat, turning into a place of fear, with the homicide rate rising , robberies and high amounts of gang affiliation flooding the city.
As the build up from the intro intensifies, it leads straight into one of the more honest, fiercer tracks called Talk About It. Of course Dre being Dre, throws out more throat-cut rhymes, “F*ck you, f*ck you, and you in the corner too/If you wanna beef, make sure that that’s somethin’ you wanna do/There’s some missin’ people that felt that way too”.
On the next track called Genocide, we are taken through the rough streets of Compton, on a more melancholy track, highlighting the homicide rate and the violent, brutal way of life that resides in the city.
On one of the more introspective songs on the album, All in a Day’s Work, co-produced by Dre, DJ Khalil, and DJ Dahi, Jimmy Iovine, CEO of Interscope records, starts off delivering a motivational speech, talking about themes of tackling fear and overcoming the pressure it takes to become successful.
Anderson Paak and Dre trade off bars with one another, as Dre recounts his youthful, N.W.A days. The production on this cut is spot on with a drum solo at the end of the track that is fresh.
Darkside/Gone, a two-part track, featuring King Mez, Kendrick, and Marsha Ambrosius, demonstrates honest rhymes from King Mez about his lacking of a gangbang lifestyle, whereas Dre hops on the track boasting his influence on the rap game, “Now please don’t give me a reason, reason/Cause I know you wanna keep breathing this evening/I’ve been killing the game for seasons, believe him/That I’m the motherf*ckin’ one to breed them and lead ’em/In a league of my own”.
Nostalgia sets in heavy as an Eazy-E sample is added in, paying homage to the late rapper and former N.W.A member. Kendrick pays his two cents, exhausting all energy on this one, where he is still shedding off the steam from To Pimp a Butterfly.
On heavier, tougher songs such as Loose Cannons with Xzibit and Cold 187um, we are treated with themes of domestic violence with a rather disturbing skit near the end of the track that is startling as it is moving, as glimpses of a Slim Shady-like ghost, haunt the track .
Issues with rap poet and actor, Ice Cube, grabs attention, as he angrily chops down a verse ending it with an allusion to his famous record It Was A Good Day. “Cashed a lot of checks this mornin’, guess today was a good day”.
Further down the album, Game takes the reigns himself on Just Another Day, as the sole rapper on the track and rips it to shreds, which is hopefully what we can expect from his upcoming sequel LP, The Documentary 2. If the album is anything what Game provokes here, he’ll be in great shape.
Materialism is accounted for on the play-on-word titled song “Satisfiction”, meaning that the expensive cars, mansions, drugs and flamboyant lifestyles, are only simple pleasures and do not hold the key to true happiness, hence the fictitious notion.
As Dre and DJ Premier team up for Animals, a race-infused cut, the beat is nothing short of a classic with a genuine hook, provided by Anderson Paak, followed by Dre’s take on the police. “D**n, why the f*ck are they after me? Maybe cause I’m a b**tard/Or maybe cause of the way my hair grow naturally”
As Hip-Hop’s greatest duo reunites, words cannot describe the profound writing and earth-shattering lyrical content on the track Medicine Man, as it proves to be the best part of Compton.
It seems poetic that Eminem serves as the album’s final feature, as arguably the greatest lyricist in the history of rap, delivers impeccable flow and flawless rhymes, unloading the most supreme verse on Compton, handing Dre some of the sickest wordplay and rap verbiage throughout the album.
As he raps “And I hope my spirit haunts the studios when I’m gone/My picture jumps off a poster and just floats through the halls/ And f**king goes through the walls like the ghost of Lou Rawls”, the bass drops hard, leaving the listener flabbergasted, as he parades his lyrical superiority only as Slim Shady can, further saying “and whoever said words are just words/Can’t hurt me more than I give a f**k/Even if my image ends up taking a personal hit/Whoever I hurt or whatever bridges I burned in this b**ch/And whatever b**ches feel like they didn’t deserve what they get/And whatever consequences come with every verse, it’s worth it/So Doc turn the beat on, whose turn is it to get murdered on it?”.
On the outro of the album, Talking to My Diary, we see more self-reflective Dr. Dre, reminiscing about his past, his early intentions to conquer the rap game, and his days riding around the streets of Los Angeles with his posse, the N.W.A.
As a soothing trumpet solo enters to write the album off, Dre leaves on a prominent note as his final album concludes, with the sun in Compton finally setting for the legendary producer who has poured 30 years of his life into this art, which will never be forgotten.
As Dr. Dre holds up the greatest résumé for a producer who innovated gangsta rap in the 90’s and influenced a plethora of artists, Compton adds to the legacy of the doctor who delivers on all fronts on this long-overdue; yet extraordinary album. I give it an A+ as he satisfies expectations on this farewell project.