Dr. Dre’s is back in business with his latest outing Compton. After a couple of listens, Compton is a classic collection of music. Dr. Dre shows no rust in releasing his first album in 16 years.
Dr. Dre, who was born Andre Young, always knew he would end up on top. From his days with the World Class Wrecking Cru he was the mastermind behind the sound. His true shot at stardom came with the controversial rap group N.W.A., whose impact on rap music has long outlived the group’s recording tenure that covered just three albums. Dr. Dre was originally just N.W.A.’s producer but he proved that he could deliver strong lyrics. The song “Express Yourself,” released on N.W.A.’s first major label album Straight Outta Compton featured a determined Dr. Dre spitting rapid fire lyrics.
After 30 years in any business, does someone have the same hunger for doing their task?
When it was announced that Dr. Dre had finished and was releasing Compton, many wondered if he would have the same fire in his belly as he did during his N.W.A. days. Someone with his resume can afford to go through the motions. If he wanted to pack it in, all Dr. Dre had to do was slap some words together, through in a handful of average beats and call it music.
It’s not as if he needs the money. Dr. Dre’s net worth is now $810 million, so there are very few days where there is no food on the table in the Young household. It was also announced that all of the royalty money earned from album will be donated to fund an arts center in Compton.
Anticipation for a Dr. Dre album was so high that great sales were a given regardless of what he puts out there. Thankfully for listeners, he is a perfectionist.
We are introduced to Compton with a brilliant speech over the promise that the California city was supposed to offer incoming families seeking the dream of a nice home in a warm climate.
After the talking is over “Talk About It” warmly greets us to rapper Justus. The up-and-coming artist keeps the microphone hot for Dr. Dre to quickly squash any idea of lackluster inspiration. He starts off with braggadocios lines, but quickly turns reflective. We are reminded that he is a grown adult who can still muster the desire to outdo contemporaries half his age.
It is on the song “It’s All On Me” that we are introduced to Dr. Dre’s storytelling ability.
He takes us back to the beginning of his DJ days. We are given the synopsis of the soon-to-be released movie Straight Outta Compton through his words. It serves as a perfect backdrop for the movie.
A couple of songs into Compton you would expect a letdown but it never comes.
“All In A Day’s Worth” allows Dr. Dre to ride the music with help from very impressive background vocals by Marsha Ambrosius and Anderson.Paak.
Compton has several highlights after this but perhaps the biggest surprise is the Cold 187um, Xzibit, and Sly Pyper featured “Loose Cannons.” The energy is high here. Even the skit that follows seems well-placed.
Ice Cube pays the doctor a visit on “Issues” to prove that he and Dr. Dre can still create musical magic. If this is Dre’s last album, the hope is that it does not eliminate the idea of an N.W.A. reunion album. Substitute Snoop Dogg for the deceased Easy-E and wait for your ears to be satisfied.
Kendrick Lamar, The Game, and Eminem make their appearances on Compton and their inclusions seem flawless. Neither of them do anything to take away from their distinguished rhyming styles.
Jill Scott tells us that “it’s beautiful outside” on “For the Love of Money,” while the end of Compton features Dr. Dre taking the rapping duties on his own on “Talking to My Diary.”
If this is his last studio album, Dr. Dre has left us on a good note. Compton is a great blend of strong lyrical content and perfect instrumentation providing an ideal backdrop for the city baring the same name.
What makes Compton an instant classic is that it is a regionally-based album. So much of today’s rap music comes with a southern sound. This is not the case with Compton. When listening to an album that is supposed to represent a city or an entire region, the sound should come from that area. There is only one critique of the album. Where is MC Ren?
It was refreshing to hear Ice Cube, Xzibit, and Cold 187um from the N.W.A. inspired group Above The Law, but for nostalgic purposes, MC Ren’s vocals would have been a great way for Dr. Dre to fully go out. Everything would have come full circle.
Still, despite no lyrics from N.W.A.’s most underrated rapper and writer, Dr. Dre’s Compton is truly timeless music.
[Photo by Christopher Polk/Getty Images Entertainment]