Monday, August 10, 2015

Report to the Dance Floor : Dr. Dre's "Compton"

Things have changed in the hood. While working on the film "Straight Outta Compton" Dre was inspired to make this album, only his third full length. This album does not feel like a  companion piece to the bi-opic about the rap crew that put Dre on the map, which he produced as well. This is not a retro homage to his days in NWA and perhaps to a fault finds it's place in the modern hip-hop market. While I wore out my copy of "the Chronic" in high school, when I quit smoking pot thirteen years ago rap listening took a decline. Post -Tupac rappers got krunk and began writing twerk anthems because truth be told they just didn't have anything to say as it became harder to distinguish hip-hop from pop-music. The lyric " we load up pro-tools" on Dre's first team up with Kendrick Lamar explains one of the things that has changed in how Dre assembles his beats.  You might find your self waiting for Dre's commanding voice to cut through the clutter, don't hold your breath too long those moments are few and far between.

The first glimpse of the old school funk that was the thumb print for West Coast hip-hop during Dre's rule in the 90s comes in on "It's All On Me".  This is one of the best case scenario when it come to marrying old school and new school as Dre narrates his days from NWA to Snoop. The smooth beat glides underneath the verses like"I'll Be Around". "All in a Days Work"  does find Dre's voice muscling its way into the midst of the funk .  There many more layers of r&b singers draping the songs than you would find on "the Chronic". Considering the song revolves around a sample of Wings' "Spirits of Anicent Eygpt" There is some grittier swagger to "Darkside/ Gone" despite the coat of auto-tune that slithers around some of the vocals at the time. It's odd they send up a shout out to Eazy- E considering how his beef with Easy-E was one of the dominate subjects to the lyrics of "Chronic"

Xzibit is a welcome addition to "Loose Cannons" he lives up to his mission statement of " stopping these bitch niggas from runnin' they mouth". Ice Cube stumbles out of Studio City and into the booth for "Issues". This song is better than expected, though Cube is a little rusty when it comes to his flow. Dre's production skills balance this out. Actors aside it's musically immaculate even with the new pro tool smoke and mirrors abounding. Kendrick Lamar brings more of his foolishness to " Deep Water" and leaving it up to Dre to make the track legit. Lamar should have followed the advice of the song's lyrics "you shouldn't have jumped in, if you can't swim".

Finally Snoop shows up for the almost rock groove of "One Shot One Kill" . The song has the kind of drive that while if you blink you might miss Snoops contribution, he does adapts to the change of pace rather than relying on his classic lazy flow. The beat to "Just Another Day"does take you back to the 90s West Coast, despite the almost Mystical like flow the verses take. Asia Bryant tries her best Rhianna impersonation for the hook. Jill Scott shows up for the soulful pulse of " For the Love of Money". Dre's verse is this high part of the song, though the track is pretty strong.

Some of the more modern studio tricks come in handy to create a trippy sci-fi groove for "Satisfaction" to ride on. Snoop returns half -way into the song to give a pretty accurate assessment of the situation when he says" cuz fuck wrong with these niggas, these labels always asking me to do a song with deez niggas, Doc I think its time for you to open the pharmacy nigga, and change this fuckin' music situation" and "these Grammy niggas fake as fuck and I'm still gettin noticed". Like the hook says he's "just stating the facts and it don't get much realer than that." They fall back into a more classic funk sound on "Animals". Lyrically it looks at why the cameras are always rollin when they are looting and fucking shit up.

"Medicine Man"  finds Eminem shows up to delivers one of the more convincing raps, though it has inspired some controversary on the inner webs , as he claims to even make the women he rapes cum, I think Cannibal Corpse has certainly muttered worse so he gets props for bringing the dangerous gangster element to this album that it needed, a shame it took a white boy from Detroit to do it with Xzibit at least coming in a close second and Snoop checking whack ass pop rappers. The albums closes with "Talking to My Diary". This song finds Dre doing what he does best without having other mcs crowding him. This album feels like it is serving two masters he is trying to make sure at 50 he can still sell albums to kids of today while doing what he does best. I'll give it an 8.5, "the Chronic" is a 10 so go put that in your pipe and smoke it. You can hear a few clips in NPR's feature on the album. 

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