Dr. Dre and N.W.A. brought gangsta rap to the forefront of hip hop during the 80s and 90s. But Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre is Dr. Dre’s first album in 16 years. He simply adds to a subgenre that he helped create and that has flourished around him.
Dr. Dre has worked with some of the most iconic acts in hip hop. Some have all but faded away while others have established themselves as hip hop title holders. Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, Eminem, and many others all give a nod to Dr. Dre for either founding or solidifying their careers.
Dr. Dre prepared Compton for release as the N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton opens in theaters. The album will accompany the film and leave people with both a visual and sonic legacy of N.W.A.
This is only Dr. Dre’s third album. In all the years he’s been active, and among all the people he’s produced and helped make albums for, his own solo work comes in only at three.
In 1992, he dropped his landmark album The Chronic, which shifted rap fans’ focus from the East Coast to the West Coast and all the funky beats and laid back raps coming out of California. The album also took Dre protege Snoop Dogg and put him center stage.
His next album, 2001, was released in 1999. It further served to solidify his legacy as both a producer and someone who could handle the mic.
Dre was supposed to release an album between 2001 and Compton named Detox, but he dropped it because he wasn’t satisfied with the result.
Rolling Stone quoted Dre about why Detox failed.
“This is something you’re not gonna hear many artists say. The reason Detox didn’t come out was because I didn’t like it. It wasn’t good. I’m gonna keep it all-the-way 1,000 with you, seriously. I worked my a*s off on it, I don’t think I did a good enough job, and I couldn’t do that to my fans and I couldn’t do that to myself, to be perfectly honest with you. I just wasn’t feeling it.”
In the meantime, Dr. Dre built his extraordinarily successful headphone empire, Beats by Dre. But Dre finally decided to get back in the studio to record an album through inspiration while shooting Straight Outta Compton.
Dre brought in many collaborators on Compton. He’s got his all-time standout artists like Snoop Dogg, Eminem, The Game, and Xzibit, along with 12 other guest spots, including his newer artists like King Mez, Jon Connor, and of course Kendrick Lamar. He also collaborated with legendary producer DJ Premier for the song “Animals.”
Not only will Dr. Dre celebrate Compton, California, the Los Angeles suburb he grew up and got his start in, on this album, but he’s going to donate all royalties he gets from the project towards building a center of the arts in Compton.
[Photo by Chelsea Lauren/Getty Images for BET]