Internet: “Dr. Dre is dropping an album for the first time in 16 years.”
This album is so damn good, I’m going to do a song by song review. Just a disclaimer: because of copyright issues, I cannot post any songs, but you should all go listen to this album if you are a fan of hip-hop at all (especially West Coast hip-hop). We all know I can talk for days when I get excited, so I’m going to do a two-day review. This post will review the first half of the album and I will post the review for the second half of the album on Friday, August 14. Let me just say this now, every beat is fire so if I neglect to mention something about it, refer to this sentence. So here goes; the review of Dr. Dre’s first album in 16 years:
Dre set this album up as the proclaimed “soundtrack to Compton.” So the intro sets the scene with a news report on the history of Compton. The initial beat is inviting and positive, like Compton used to be. It then drastically changes to a darker, chilling beat when the reporter talks about the high crime rate and gang activity, serving as the lead in to the next song.
2) Talk About It (ft King Mez, Justus)
Hello King Mez and Justus, welcome to my ears. I became a fan of both instantly because of this song (and some later ones we will get to). Justus is great on the hook; King Mez has two excellent verses, displaying some great wordplay. Dre did his thing too, telling the game he’s got everything in the world (and then some) and he doesn’t care what anyone has to say. This beat is SO DAMN HARD! Gets me going and then is so soothing during the hook, and then comes back in and pumps me up. Love it.
3) Genocide (ft Marsha Ambrosius, Kendrick Lamar, Candice Pillay)
This song is about the brutality of Compton, showing how normal murder is there. Dre’s verse compares his city to the music industry, as both can be cut-throat (and he’s the one who is coming out on top). Kendrick raps about the mindset of youth in Compton; being that there is no way out, even when the people surrounding them want better for them (like his mother did). The bass is this song absolutely knocks and that piano that accompanies it gives it a very pleasing aesthetic. This is a very easy song to cruise around to.
4) It’s All on Me (ft BJ The Chicago Kid, Justus)
This is a candidate for my favorite song on the album. It is both beautiful and soulful. BJ The Chicago Kid and Justus are fantastic on the hook. Dre delves into his past, talking about friendships, beefs, being taken advantage of, and more. You can tell that Dre poured his heart into this track just by listening to his voice and hearing the lyrics. When you make classic album after classic album, the pressure to keep doing so and to be a role model all falls back on you (get it? Like the lyrics to the song).
5) All in a Day’s Work (ft Marsha Ambrosius, Anderson .Paak)
Jimmy Iovine sets the tone for the song with his intro, basically saying that one has to work hard and persevere in order to succeed. If anyone knows about working hard to achieve his or her dream, it’s Dr. Dre. Everyone in the game recognizes him as the hardest working producer by far. He works tirelessly to perfect and master the beats he produces. The funky bass line and drums are really cool and provide a unique feel to the song. Plus, the chains at the end (as he says “We gotta work”) symbolize how he is a slave to the music, further driving home the point of working hard.
6) Darkside/ Gone (ft King Mez, Marsha Ambrosius, Kendrick Lamar)
This song is split into two completely different ideas. The first, “Darkside,” is about how people growing up in cities like Compton, filled with gangs and violence, leads to a struggle to separate oneself from that life because that person may not be a gangster himself, but he definitely knows and hangs out with people that are. Dre explains to the game that he is the king and anyone claiming otherwise might have to deal with his darkside. The second half (after an Eazy-E interlude from the other side [chilling isn’t it?]) switches the tone from dark and violent to a softer tone (backed by a lovely piano and a sweet boom-bap drum kit), which enables Dre to reminisce about his days with N.W.A., in particular about his relationship with Eazy-E. Kendrick comes in to assist Dre with an outstanding verse (that flow is untouchable) about how his fame and money hasn’t gone to his head as he continues to put out great music with important messages, despite facing criticism and hate at times (classic Fox News).
7) Loose Cannons (ft Cold 187um, Xzibit)
Dre spits about how he’s sometimes underestimated because he has so much money now. He reminds people it wasn’t given, it was earned and he accomplished this after growing up in one of the toughest neighborhoods in the US. The beat then switches to a heavily rock-influenced beat (with sick trumpets) for Cold 187um to rap about his lack of fucks to give and to warn he’ll murder someone if he has to. The beat switches again as Xzibit comes in hot with another verse about being a gangster who’s liable to kill anyone standing in his way. The Cold 187um comes back over this section of the instrumental and finally looses it, killing the female character (what a loose cannon, AMIRIGHT?!). The violence throughout the album ore no accident because of how commonplace violence is in Compton.
8) Issues (ft Anderson .Paak, Ice Cube, Dem Jointz)
Ice Cube and Dr. Dre back together on the same track? Sign me up. This beat sets the tone for the song perfectly. It is dark and hardcore, as Cube and Dre rap about Compton (surprised?) and everything you might see there. Their voices both sound so good over this beat. The drums are vintage Dre and I love the guitar loop throughout. The end of the song sets up the next song flawlessly.
Come back Friday, August 14th for the second half of the review. Thanks for reading. Until next time world…