ALBUM REVIEW: The 15th Anniversary of the Release of Dr. Dre’s “2001”
November 16, 2014 marks the 15th anniversary release of 2001, also known as The Chronic 2 or Chronic 2001. It was Dr. Dre’s second solo album and, by all accounts, his most popular. It was no surprise then that the folks over at the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified Dre’s album six times platinum!
There are many reasons why this album is considered by many to be Dr. Dre’s archetypal work and, with all respect, one of the top 10 Rap/Hip-Hop albums of all time. There were three different versions of the album released: the original explicit version, a censored version and even a version of the album with no lyrics and just the instrumentation/beats.
Though Dr. Dre appears throughout the album there, are featured guests on virtually every track. A few of the artists featured include Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kurupt, Nate Dogg and Xzibit. While Dre is notorious for using ghostwriters, you are able to hear two other emcees’ lyrics through Dre on the album: Jay-Z (“Still D.R.E.”) and Royce Da 5’9” (“The Message”).
From a producing perspective, the album is perfection, with the majority of work done by Dr. Dre. However, he did receive help from others through a collaboration of efforts with longtime contributors and legends like Mel-Man, Mike Elizondo and Scott Storch.
While sampling is a mainstream tool for many producers now, with the most widely known being Kanye West, it is important to note that sampling songs is nothing new to Dre, whose songs are heavily sampled. He should be considered the sample king.
2001 featured samples on nearly every song, including “The Next Episode,” “What’s the Difference,” “Xxplosive,” “Still D.R.E.,” “Murder Ink,” “Forgot About Dre,” “Let’s Get High,” “Bitch Niggaz” and “Big Ego’s.” There were more, but I think you get the drift. Dre sometimes even sampled two to three songs just to create one song for the album.
Another highlight of the music has to be Dre’s famous drum patterns, which were sometimes sampled as well. However, it is important to know that the patterns weren’t overtly complicated but were often simple, syncopated patterns that he mixed and mastered to perfection. They’re so popular that in a Rolling Stone article from 2010, Kanye admitted to copying Dr. Dre’s drum pattern from the song “Xxplosive” in Jay-Z’s song “This Can’t Be Life.”
As an audiophile, listening to this album is so pleasurable because of Dr. Dre’s mixing and mastering. It’s enjoyable to listen to on either a full system with a subwoofer and tweeters or dollar store headphones. There’s always something new you can hear that you missed before.
Though named 2001, the album was actually released in 1999 due to a disagreement with former label boss Suge Knight. Dr. Dre left Death Row Records in 1996 and formed Aftermath Entertainment. Several months before 2001’s release, Death Row Records released an album titled Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000.
While only three singles were released, the album has many fan favorites that have been sampled or rerecorded on. Some of these include:
“Lolo (Intro) featuring Xzibit & Tray-Dee” – The intro begins with a THX sound test check, because Dr. Dre knows you oughta set your equalizer levels before the album begins. Then the skit begins with Xzibit and Tray-Dee playing around in a couple of cars with hydraulic suspensions.
“The Watcher” – This is the first and only truly solo track Dre has on the album. It gives him a chance to explain what he’s been doing and where he is in life right now. This song was later elaborated on in Jay-Z’s The Blueprint 2 with Raekwon.
“Still D.R.E. featuring Snoop Dogg” – This was the first released single from the album. It’s co-produced by Dr. Dre and Scott Storch. Storch went on to have a successful career producing with numerous other artists. As mentioned earlier, Sean Carter AKA Jay-Z ghostwrote Dre’s lines on this track.
“What’s the Difference featuring Eminem & Xzibit” – This song is my favorite song production-wise on the album and samples Charles Aznavour’s “Parce Que Tu Crois.” Eminem’s lines the are the song’s clear standout, featuring quintessential Slim Shady lyrical behavior.
“Forgot About Dre featuring Eminem” – In my humble opinion, this is the heaviest-played and most popular song on the album. Originally released as the second single, this song serves as Dre’s response to his critics. He reminds everybody about who he’s created or found and features his current and most popular artist, Eminem.
“The Next Episode featuring Snoop Dogg & Nate Dogg” – This the third and final single released and second-most popular track on the album. This is also the follow up song to “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” from The Chronic, where Snoop Dogg says, “So just chill to the next episode…” Also, the most memorable line from the album comes from Nate Dogg and is also the last line of the song.
“Murder Ink featuring Hittman & Ms. Roq” – This is one of the tracks that does not actually have Dr. Dre speaking on it, but you can definitely tell he produced the song, which heavily samples the Michael Meyers theme from Halloween.
“The Message featuring Mary J. Blige & Rell” – This is Dre’s most revealing song, as it parts lyrically from the rest of the album’s use of sex, drugs and violence to sorrow and remorse over his late brother. The song was ghostwritten by Royce Da 5’9” and features Mary J. Blige.
From the hard hitting lyrics, to the soft and simple syncopated drum patterns, to the phenomenal guests artist list, this album, in my opinion, still holds up today. What was your favorite track?
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