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Dr. Dre: Compton (Album Review)

Dr. Dre: Compton (Album Review)

He was a part of the World Class Wrecking Crew. He was the main face of the classic N.W.A. group who changed hip-hop forever. He was a king among legends as a part of Death Row Records. He put out his first album, one of the most important Westcoast albums of all time The Chronic in 1992. Just short of eight years later he put out one of the most respected production stylized tapes in history 2001. For sixteen years we have waited for his junior album, entitled Detox or not, we got Compton, and this is the track to track breakdown of the record.

1. Intro:

Production: Focus, Dr. Dre & Dontae Winslow

The album starts off with heroic trumpets and war like drums. It has a familiar sounds to the beginning of a film with a production company’s intro theme. During this theme is a news-like voice giving a brief synopsis of the infamous city of Compton.

2. Talk About It

Production: DJ Dahi & Free School

This is a very hyped up, heavy drumming and warrior type anthem. It has on and off measured sympathizers that match up with the rapid instrumentation.

Dr. Dre:

Although his verse is short, he starts off on an ill tip. It is all bravado, it is slick and really does demonstrate his stance in the game today, with a legendary status.

King Mez:

Mez’s flow is very spazzy. He is relatively hard to understand, especially during his first verse. His lyrics are even on a weaker stance as he repeats many lines and doesn’t sound quite stable as a writer (or person). His second (the 3rd verse) is better, he mentions legends doing a lot of name dropping comparing himself to their rhyming abilities.

Justus:

Justus puts down a dope hook. It mixes Notorious’ lyrics with a strong vocalized, and also morphed singing aspect.

3. Genocide

Production: Dem Jointz

This is one of the stronger beats on the album. Although at heart it is very simple, sympths paired with drums and a double tap at the end of every few measures, it gives an immediate head nodding feel and allows the emcees to flow as they please. It sounds like something off of Good Kid Maad City.

Dr. Dre:

Dre has a very out of ordinary flow on this one. He sounds somewhat like Outkast’s Big Boi. He changes up his speed which we rarely ever hear on his verses. He describes hub city and the handout type dudes in the streets.

Kendrick Lamar:

Kendrick [Lamar], with no surprise just spazzes. He drops 3-4 bars at a time before breaking (allowing the ad-libs to drop in.) He is ruthless with his lyrics taking the stance of a killer, more or less the ‘good kid’.

Marsha Ambrosius:

Ambrosius’ first appearance on the tape is so-so. She sings quite alto, almost talking the well written street style hook.

Candice Pillay:

Pillay’s Jamaican vibe on this track matches the production extremely well. She adds to the vibe on point.

4. It’s All On Me

Production: Bink & Dr. Dre

This beat has a RZA/The Bullits type feel to it. It immediately strikes emotion. The tambourine, snare, guitar, low volumed trumpet and female vocal sample all fit together melodically.

Dr. Dre:

This is Dre venting against the people who have asked him handouts. He is reminiscent of the N.W.A. days and meeting Snoop Dogg and Suge Knight. The chorus gives us the impression that Dre has felt blamed for a lot of the wrong doing’s from those who he been affiliated with along during his career.

Justus & BJ The Chicago Kid:

These two just vibe together so well. Justus has a flatter but still well tempoed voice, while BJ just goes off on his high point vocals and echoes the previous lines.

5. All In a Day’s Work

Production: DJ Khalil & DJ Dahi

The track starts off with a speech with the former co-owner of Interscope Records, Jimmy Iovine talking about the power of fear. After an applause the beat slowly creeps in with a jazzy vibe. Coming into the fifth track you will be quite surprised by the mood the album’s production reflects. This beat in particular is not exactly ‘Westcoast’ but more instrumentative and relies on the vocals.

Dr. Dre & Anderson. Paak: Paak is raspy, gospel sounding, singing about living a certain way to make ends meet. Dre and him go back and forth on two call and response verses. Dre continues talking about the stresses of the game and fakeness he comes across on a daily basis.

Marsha Ambrosius:

Ambrosius’s bridge is short but decently sung, she emphasizes the message of the track which is simple… work ethic.

6. Darkside/Gone 

Production: Dr. Dre, Best Kept Secret & D.R.U.G.S Beats

Darkside starts off quite mellow with an abrupt electric guitar slap and some drums. They use an incredibly dope Eazy-E sample to transition into the second part of the song ‘Gone.’ Finally we get reminded of Dre’s piano use on his records. The keys are symphonic and make for a low key Westcoast track.

Dr. Dre:

From his flow alone on the Darkside portion, you can tell with ease that Dre has been listening to a lot of his friends music from T.D.E. He has the rhythm down, switching tempos, but his end rhymes are simple and the content is therefore lacking. On the second part Gone, Dre starts off with a nice twist to the beginning of Jay-Z’s ‘Hard Knock Life.’ He uses this 16 to make it apparent that he has worked for his money, seeing dark things and earned his place.

King Mez:

Mez has definitely got some auto-tune to his voice but his flow is tight. With such a simple instrumental he could have gone in any direction and this time around he stuck to a nice bar after bar melody. His lyrics are also sharper than they are on Talk About It giving a monologue from a Cali thugs perspective.

Marsha Ambrosius:

Ambrosius makes her third appearance on the tape and really isn’t shining as bright as someone would expect the major female vocalist on a Dre tape would. She has tame vocality in her voice, good for transitioning but not so concrete standing alone.

Kendrick Lamar:

Lamar continues with the same concept as Dre started. He uses hatred and enemies only as fuel to continue in strength and to vent through his music.

7. Loose Cannons 

Production: Focus, Trevor Lawrence, Jr. & Dr. Dre

After the first few measure kicked in I was almost certain M.O.P. was gonna start hollering. This beat is made up of squeaky toned string instruments and laser type sound effects. The beat changes significantly before Xzibit enters the track. It becomes more like something off of the ‘2001’ album with low leveled gun shot sounds, dope dark piano and some quick tap drums.

Dr. Dre:

Again Dre goes in on explaining the dark images of being young in Compton and the experiences one goes through. Also AGAIN, he has an abruptly changing flow. His verse is short and mediocre.

Xzibit:

X[zibit] sounds like he used to. He has no patience for competition, has his hard angry voice with a steady strong viscous flow. It all makes for a well rounded verse.

Cold 187um:

Cold just comes in way too loud, has an unimpressive sound and says absolutely nothing while rhyming with a rookie status.

Sly Pyper:

Like Cold, Pyper has really no point to his verse aside from screaming, weak rhymes and an assist on expressing the animosity of the track.

8. Issues

Production: Focus, Curt Chambers, Trevor Lawrence, Theron Feemster & Dr. Dre

This song starts off like heavy metal and breaks into an older form of a Tech N9ne smash. The beat is one to wil’ out to and jump around.

Dr. Dre:

Dre sounds like he is still living in the streets talking about gunning and the slum life. His flow is decent and his bars come hard sounding with more steel than they are written.

Ice Cube:

Cube just absolutely goes off. He sounds like he was just waiting for a high energy beat to go cocky on. His bars only consist of money and representation but is brought together in a clever way.

Anderson. Paak:

Paak sounds pretty dope as a clearer voiced Flavor Flav like hype man.

Dem Jointz:

Jointz actually has an ill singing portion on this record. He is heavily studio-ized but regardless sounds well with the hook and bridge.

9. Deep Water

Production: Focus, Cardiak, DJ Dahi, Dem Jointz & Dr. Dre

This joint starts off with a drowning man and the sound of waves and then with a quick rumble it becomes Westcoast scratch with a bay area sounding bass line and some dope electronic drops.

Dr. Dre:

Dre makes the point that this game will go over people’s head like water to a drowning person. He has a bit of an Eminem mindstate taking the stance of such a strong influence that a listener’s parent would have.

Kendrick Lamar:

Kendrick puts down one of the best verses on the album ending this record. He is all sorts of edited voice wise talking about the vicarious life of living in the ghetto and continues to use the ocean analogy the song contains.

Justus:

Justus sings and whispers his way through a repetitive chorus. He isn’t weak but he doesn’t make the strongest appearance for such high level production.

Anderson. Paak:

Paak, well, he just continues to scream.

10. One Shot One Kill

Production: Focus, Trevor Lawrence, Jr. & Dr. Dre

This record continues with the heavy, strong and expeditious production as the previous track. It is mostly guitar and studio created drums.

Jon Connor:

Connor is energetic, rhymes every few words and still manages to put down a clean as f**k verse. He is talking about coping with this lifestyle using his strength and fearlessness. Also his chorus is short and redundant it fits perfectly.

Snoop Dogg:

While listening it would take a decent amount of bars to realize you’re even listening to Snoop. Unlike almost ever, he is angry, quick and heavy spoken. The verse is hot and he is giving his veteran status an upgrade rather than a slow retirement. Whether or not Kendrick “laid down the skeleton” for him.

11. Just Another Day

Production: Trevor Lawrence, Jr. & Theron Feemster

Without question, the best beat on the album is just an absolute thumper. It raises fury with the bass and drum ratio, fits for the club and is also tailored for the streets all the while keeping a continuous well operated symphonic sound for an all around killer.

The Game:

Game is telling a story half the time and the other half is just killing bars about his hometown. His flow is all over the board, but keeps a checkmate stance each bar. Emcee wise, he is the best competition against Kendrick on the album.

Asia Bryant:

Bryant sounds a bit like Rihanna hitting the high notes and sounding well accented killing the chorus on this true Compton wax.

12. For The Love of Money

Production: Cardiak

Cardiak took his time with beat. He changes levels constantly and uses the Jill Scott sample with perfect timing. The piano is well based and the bass goes from low to high with extraordinary precision.

Dr. Dre:

This is one of Dre’s weaker verses, only really speaking about his effort towards money and keeping an uninteresting flow throughout.

Jill Scott:

Although she is definitely cut off from her vocal abilities, Scott’s smooth jazzy voice is well placed into the harmonious efforts of Cardiak.

Jon Connor:

Connor definitely took less effort on his writing on this record than on ‘One Shot One Kill’ but still manages to put down a highbrow clever verse about the street life.

13. Satisfiction

Production: Dem Jointz

Finally another record that sounds like a ‘2001’ cut, more or less, it is actually a bit Cool & Dre stylish. It is a quick bass based and rubber bounce sounding symph filled protool.

Dr. Dre:

Dre really could have brought some more to this than the few bars he did. The idea is not reaching expectations and that’s honestly what the artist does himself.

Snoop Dogg:

Where has this Snoop been!? The inspiration of getting back to records with his longtime friend really made him go off on his first and this second, verse. He is showing the power of being around this long and schooling youngin’s.

Marsha Ambrosius:

Another chorus and bridge where Ambrosius sounds a bit irritating and sound board created.

King Mez:

Mez drops his best verse on this tape talking about people who are thirsty for the high life. He gives an explanation towards those who show but don’t actually have (car rental dudes.)

14. Animals

Production: DJ Premier & BMB SpaceKid

You just absolutely feel the [DJ] Premier breathe through this beat. It is classic boom bap, soulful bells with an amazingly appropriate flute.

Dr. Dre:

Dre gets into more specifics about his young life on this one. Instead of just explaining violence and the need for money he explains certain situations and common problems that would arise in Bompton.

Anderson. Paak:

Paak rides the beat to make this record sound like a 90’s hip-hop/r&b record. He definitely peaks with his bridge, hook and verse on this one.

15. Medicine Man

Production: Dem Jointz & Focus

This song is like something off of Aftermath’s ‘Re-Up’ album. It goes from consistent bass back to various piano keys and soft string notes.

Dr. Dre:

For the first time on the entire album Dre goes for some social related bars. He does alright questioning the system with a few different points but does not bring up incredibly original problems with explanations.

Eminem:

Em just talks his way through killing his verse. He talks about his periods away from putting out music and how it makes people feel.

Candice Pillay:

Pillay again sounds great putting an intro into a verse. She is softer spoken on this joint but still makes for a great changeover. It is undeniably powerful when she quietly sings “go f**k yourself.”

Anderson. Paak:

Paak fits into this record like Future does on a conscious emcee’s track. He adds some pumped of feeling to the all around idea.

16. Talking To My Diary

Production: DJ Silk, Choc & Dr. Dre

This sounds like something Hov would go off on. It has a roundabout symph similar to a flute and and an end bar screech. The saxophone between verses is the last piece to the hypnotic puzzle.

Dr. Dre:

Dre ended this record exactly as he was supposed to. He reflects on the hood life, “has flashbacks”, remembers his lost homies, takes pride in his success and for one of the only times on the album, he genuinely sounds like he did on his freshman and sophomore albums.

Overall: 85%

Every artist approaches their position on this album talking about the street life, Compton to be exact. Lyrically you get really strong verses from Kendrick, a couple ill and keen spots from Jon Connor, one savage 16 from Game, some stronger than other Dre bars making up for an average finish. The younger names such as Anderson. Paak and Marsha Ambrosius end up somewhat unfitting on such a high profile album, falling short of the expectations. The production isn’t what most expected with a less than ever Westcoast sound from the most legendary Compton figure ever to live. It might be expected to be refreshing to hear more instruments and different moods from the Doctor but believe it or not it leaves a sound that feels out of place. It is still a very good compilation album that will be good for listening on a sonic level and less than an educational or hip-hop legendary status.

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