So, after a looooonnnnnggggg 16 years that makes me feel really old upon thinking about it, Dr. Dre has dropped his third and supposedly final album, entitled "Compton." First off, A+++ album cover, that shit is DOPE.
So, on to the content...
It wasn't really what I expected, to be honest. I scanned through the samples on iTunes and almost didn't buy it at first. I think I was hoping for that more vintage Dr. Dre sound. The original "The Chronic" is hands down my favorite, I fell in love with the West Coast G-Funk movement when I was in junior high and high school. That's a cover-to-cover classic to me, no skipping necessary. That's what I like the most, the tracks with the high-pitched, whiny synthesizer sound of old 1990s West Coast rap. I'm trying to think of songs with that format that I DON'T like, and nothing immediately comes to mind. A song like "Let Me Ride", or Ice Cube's "You Know How We Do It" off of his Lethal Injection solo album are perfect examples of the way for a producer to synthesize their way into my heart. Just timeless, classic beats that put almost anything produced afterwards in a corner on Time Out, in my opinion.
The "Chronic 2001" album was also great, although I still prefer the original. But this is undeniably classic as well. I tend to shy away from commercial megahits at times. I recognize them as great songs, but I don't like "made-for-radio" stuff as much. So stuff like "The Next Episode" or "Still D.R.E.", while I enjoy them in the club, I'm more drawn towards stuff like "Bitch N*ggaz" or "Xxplosive", something you'll less likely hear on the radio. I'm basically more into deep cuts than hit singles. Either way, though, in Dre's case, I can get down with all of it.
So my expectations for "Compton" were very different. I expected more throwback type stuff. I'm not a big fan of new rap for the most part, I think it's taken a nosedive since the mid-2000s, which were already a nosedive from the early and mid-90s. I bought the album against my initial instincts, and after listening for a day, I give Compton a cautious thumbs up. The production is off the hook. Dre clearly put a lot of work in. I just wish the album had been more about showing the younger generation what real rap is about, and this felt like more like he was trying to show the younger generation he could fit in. So I was a little disappointed in that. But I got over that and tried to embrace it for what it was.
Going at it like that, I could safely say this album is well-done. I think people looking for radio hits might be disappointed. Or maybe I'm out of touch with what constitutes a radio hit these days. It helps if you're into the Kendrick Lamar style of stuff, which I'm 50-50 on. Kendrick is a great talent and would be conspicuously absent from this album though, as the new Voice of Compton. Speaking of conspicuous absences, I'd be remiss to not mention our fallen hero Nate Dogg. Nobody could blow in that G-funk style like Nate D-O-double-G. He would have been a great addition and would have changed the flavor of the album. There's a singer featured on a few songs by the name of Anderson .Paak, and he's pretty good. My favorite song on the album is probably "Animals", mostly featuring .Paak with one Dre verse. The instrumental behind it is OUTSTANDING, produced by DJ Premier of GangStarr fame, one of my favorite producers, if not my #1. It was like a "best of both coasts" kind of thing, and I really liked the song both sonically and as a message, in the wake of all the tension and rioting in black communities in response to police misconduct.
"And the old folks tell me it's been going on since back in the day, but that don't make it ok/And them white folks tell me all the lootin' and the shootin's insane, but you don't know our pain/And please don't come around these parts, tell me that we all a bunch of animals/The only time they want to turn the cameras on is when we fuckin' shit up"
Great song. "Medicine Man" featuring Eminem is excellent as well. Em murders his verse as usual. "For The Love Of Money" is another good one, and samples one of my favorite Bone Thugs N Harmony songs by the same name. It has a feel similar to the beat of the Wayne and Em song "No Love." I also like "It's All On Me" and "All In A Day's Work", and the final track "Talking To My Diary" is an excellent finale.
Overall, it's really well-produced, I just don't know how radio friendly it is. It's kind of like Jay-Z's "American Gangster" soundtrack. Really well done, but it doesn't have the big hits to give it staying power with the general public. That could be my old hip-hop head bias coming in though, maybe I've lost sight of what qualifies as a radio hit these days. But if you truly enjoy rap and well-produced beats and aren't just looking for "dance in the club" songs, I'd recommend giving this a listen👍👍