Album Review: Compton: A Soundtrack By Dr. Dre

Rating:

I can’t remember the last time that a new album’s release garnered such a level of excitement than the one that surrounded Dr. Dre’s latest release, Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre. This is his third solo studio album following 1992’s The Chronic and 1999’s Chronic: 2001.

Even though Dre hasn’t released a solo album in 16 years he’s still been creating singles for artists and executively producing albums for others. His last solo album, Chronic: 2001, was certified platinum six times while his first solo album, The Chronic, was certified platinum three times.

The idea for the new album came to Dre while he was on the set for the new N.W.A. biopic film, Straight Outta Compton. Up to that point he had ultimately given up on his third solo album Detox, which had stalled out for numerous reasons.

The director, actors and inspiration of the NWA biopic film Straight Outta Compton. (Photo credit: oldschool993.com)

The director, actors and inspiration of the NWA biopic film Straight Outta Compton. (Photo credit: oldschool993.com)

On virtually every song there’s at least one featured artist, except for the last one, Talking to My Diary. Like in his preceding album he finishes the record off solo and gets any and everything off of his chest.

Interestingly enough there are two tracks on the album in which Dr. Dre doesn’t appear at all. Recent Aftermath signee Jon Connor performs the first and the second is by The Game.

The latter is the one that interests me because of the very public feud with him and 50 Cent. At the time both were signed to Aftermath and their feud ultimately led to Game’s departure from the Aftermath label and the disappearance of Dr. Dre from The Game’s future album productions.

The Game never appeared to hold any disdain for Dr. Dre following the proceedings and continued to speak highly of him on his subsequent albums. His second album was even titled Doctor’s Advocate. Even though they appeared to remain cordial, it was still surprising to see that The Game had a single on the album even though he hadn’t been associated with Dre for a while.

Dr. Dre and his former protege The Game. (Photo credit: genius.com)

Dr. Dre and his former protege The Game. (Photo credit: genius.com)

Though 50 Cent isn’t featured on Compton, other long time collaborators including Xzibit, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Eminem and Kendrick Lamar join Dre, while several up and coming artists like Jon Connor, King Mez, Anderson .Paak and Justus make appearances throughout.

The track list is as follows:

  1. Intro
  2. Talk About It featuring King Mez and Justus
  3. Genocide featuring Kendrick Lamar, Marsha Ambrosius and Candice Pillay
  4. It’s All On Me featuring Justus and BJ the Chicago Kid
  5. All in a Day’s Work featuring Anderson .Paak and Marsha Ambrosius
  6. Darkside/Gone featuring King Mez, Marsha Ambrosius and Kendrick Lamar
  7. Loose Cannons featuring Xzibit, COLD 187um and Sly Paper
  8. Issues featuring Ice Cube, Anderson .Paak and Dem Jointz
  9. Deep Water featuring Kendrick Lamar, Justus and Anderson .Paak
  10. Jon Connor – One Shot One Kill featuring Snoop Dogg
  11. The Game – Just Another Day featuring Asia Bryant
  12. For the Love of Money featuring Jill Scott, Jon Connor and Anderson .Paak
  13. Satisfiction featuring Snoop Dogg, Marsha Ambrosius and King Mez
  14. Animals featuring Anderson .Paak
  15. Medicine Man featuring Eminem, Candice Pillay and Anderson .Paak
  16. Talking to My Diary
Album cover of Dr. Dre's Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre. (Photo credit: consequenceofsound.net)

Album cover of Dr. Dre’s Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre. (Photo credit: consequenceofsound.net)

One of the things I appreciated most about this album is the way Dr. Dre combines several beats and rhythms into one track and makes them evolve. For instance, on the song Loose Cannons, which features COLD 187um, Sly Paper and Xzibit, the track starts out with a quick intro that leads to Dre and then slightly changes before COLD 187um takes over and finally near the bridge of the song the beat speeds up and mutates even more when Xzibit jumps in. Within a matter of minutes it sounds like there are three different songs in one.

This happens again on Medicine Man, which features Candice Pillay, Anderson .Paak and Eminem. Like Loose Cannons, this track begins one way and changes a few times by the end of the song.

I had to go over the track One Shot One Kill that featured Snoop Dogg on it to find him, as he doesn’t sound like himself. Honestly, I’m not sure if this is because Snoop’s aging and so is his voice or if this is a product of the music and what Dre wanted from his artists to give him on the recordings. Maybe it was a little bit of both.

In another surprising move, the album is only available for purchase on iTunes or to listen on Apple Music, though upon further thought it’s not so surprising, as this isn’t the first time that Dre and Apple have done business together, as Apple is the parent company of Beats.

Eminem & Dr. Dre Posing at an Apple event. (Photo credit: hotnewhiphop.com)

Eminem & Dr. Dre Posing at an Apple event. (Photo credit: hotnewhiphop.com)

Will this move limit the availability for purchase and thus hurt the financial success of the album? At first thought you would think so, but it remains to be seen.

Dr. Dre has been known to go through producing phases. His breakout style was known as G-funk, which could easily be categorized by 2Pac’s Can’t C Me or Dr. Dre’s Ain’t Nothin’ but a “G” Thang.

Dre’s style began to change in the late ’90s when he produced songs such as The Phone Tap for The Firm or Bitch Please for Snoop Dogg. This path eventually leads to the style that was featured on Chronic: 2001, which included syncopated drum patterns coupled with less synthetic sounds and a higher use of pianos and strings such as Still D.R.E. or What’s the Difference. This trend continued even further on Compton with tracks like Animals and Talking to My Diary.

I have to say that I genuinely like the album. I’m easily lost in the record’s production and had to go back numerous times and re-listen to several tracks because the beats were so complex that I kept finding new things to listen to. Dr. Dre continues to display his musical genius and production evolution that began decades ago. If you get a chance, download a copy of it and let me know if you agree.

 

(Slider image credit: popculthq.com)

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Creator and host of the podcast Beer, Bros & BS, teller of stories, drinker of beers, reader of (comic) books, watcher of sports, devourer of food, mostly entertaining. From Miami. Follow me on Twitter & Instagram @thebiglibrarian.

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