The Black Phil Spector, Except Not As Fucked Up
So Dre decided to have a solo career after NWA imploded about 1991, and his chances of success were seen as being just south of those of a long haired skinny white boy in prison. I mean, he wasn't Ice Cube, with the look and the booming delivery and the starring roles in movies about drive-by shootings where most of the time he just sat around and drank a 40. And he also wasn't Eazy-E, with all the big talk and tweaky voice and inferiority complexes that made him about as much fun to listen to as Chicken Hawk on the ol' Foghorn Leghorn cartoons. Nah, Dre probably had about as much chance to make it as MC Ren or Yella, or Roberto Clemente for that matter.
But see, Dre had one big ol' ally in his corner, and that was former gangbanger Suge Knight, who took matters into his own hands (literally) when he threatened NWA's manager to get Dre out of his contract. The doobie buo then got all indie on us and formed their own record company (Death Row Records) just like the skinny hairy kids in the suburbs. Now Dre just needed to release product and sell it, and he did...but he did a bit more than that. He also revolutionized 90's rap by introducing the West Coast sound (or SIZ-ound, nigger! whatever that means). Like I said with Wu Tang, it ain't every day something new and different is introduced to rap music, but when Dre started producing his easy-rolling P-Funk derived grooves, things done changed. In 1991 there were three major forces in rap: the Bomb Squad big, heavy, swirling soup of shit as done by Public Enemy, the similarly big 'n' heavy, yet simpler NWA/Ice Cube sound, and then whatever old school was still hanging around. What Dre did was change the whole damn system. First off, he introduced a hell of a lot more R&B into the mix than anyone had done before, and started to make the thing a lot kinder to weed smokers. That squeally Moog line? He invented it. The fat live bass line? He put it in there. Of course, as usual, after G-Funk sold out faster than Big Macs at a fat farm, it got stretched thin and watered down and then after two years, it was time for another new thing in rap music.
As it was, though, Dre's work (both on his solo albums and with his numerous, also extremely popular, progeny) is still some of the most interesting rap music to ever be released. Ever hear of Eminem? Dre's the man behind him, 10 years later. still able to lend a white boy street cred and make his music marginally fucking listenable. Some may level charges that his borrowing from George Clinton is a little more than a bit here and there, but when we're talking rap music,. we're already talking a level of recycling that even a lesbian vegan earth-warrior would be proud, so who's keeping score on this shit anyway? It's rap music, so if it don't boom and don't make your head nod around and make little chills run down your spine, it's not worth a damn anyway.
Hell, Dre's only got 2 real solo albums, and a third sampler thingy I don't even own, so let's stop gakking all over the screen and go over the records before I get too sleepy from this big ol' honkin' bomber I wish I was smoking right now.
The Chronic -Death Row 1992
As far as gangsta rap goes, especially the West Coast kind, this album is the highest the kite ever flew. Dre ain't much of a rapper, believe me....he's slow and clumsy, and comes across more like a dumb defensive tackle trying to impress his pals on the football team than a hardcore Cali gunslinger. I mean, 'Rat Tat Tat Tat' is some marble-mouthed shit. Now his pals...them's some rappers. Snoop Doggy Dogg (what kind of fucking name IS that, anyway? Doesn't anyone else think that's pretty stupid?) is one hell of a fine rapper, he makes every word he says come off like he's just telling you the news, no big fucking deal, and in a few minutes he's gonna go pour another drink and smoke another bowl. But it's an infectious delivery, it draws you in and always feels effortless. There's also lesser lights like The D.O.C. and Nate Dogg, but I can't tell when they're doing anything. This is Dre's and Snoop's record...Dre makes the atmosphere, and Snoop kicks out the vocal jams. The teamwork and chemistry between these two is somethin' else.
Subject matter is more or less what you might expect. The opening shot title track is a big ol' slap at Eazy-E, who was a chump and deserved it for acting like he was the talent in NWA, but Dre sets it nice 'n' straight amid some of the more creepy background on the record. It's like there's about 15 turntables going on there, and knowing Dre (not really, I'd get a lot more sex if I actually knew the man) it probably is about 15 turntables. The following '____ Wit Dre Day' (I assume that's 'fuck' in there, but I don't want to be presumptuous) is nabbed wholesale from Parlament's Mothership Connection and it's also about people who had the bad fortune to fuck with Dre...there's so many jabs at Eazy-E's pre-pubescent voice you wonder if Dre actually ever liked the guy at all. And we can all be glad that Suge didn't actually go and pull any triggers in that NWA office...he's got a lot of bad mojo around him, that man. Snoop's debut takes place on this track as well, and he's like the best sidekick a mediocre rapper could have, he keeps telling me how great Dre is that I start to believe it. 'Let Me Ride' (also ripped from a Parliament song) is based on a faster hip hop beat, and it rocks as a result. 'Lyrical Gangbang' bases itself on Led Zeppelin's 'When The Levee Breaks' for the 11,878th appearance as a sample on a rap record, but it's done well even if it's a forgettable track featuring the B-line of guest rappers. Oh yeah, there's enough misogyny and GATs and 187's and niggas and blunts on this record to satisfy any wigger suburbian 12 year old. Were these guys actually living for this stuff? Well Suge Knight and Snoop both got charged with murder not long after this release, and Dre's brother got murdered a few years previous, so you tell me if they're 'keeping it real' or not. These guys really were original gangsters, and much like the fabled sex 'n' drug rock raiding parties of 70's rock tour fame, these guys were part of a dying breed. Am I sad about that? Nah, but at least you can rely on the expertise of these guys. You'll be shocked how much of this stuff is already familiar even if you have only an anecdotal exposure to rap music. 'The Day The Niggaz Took Over', 'Nuthin But A "G" Thang', 'A Nigga Witta Gun' and 'Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat' are just packed with stuff that later became reused so many times, you'll be playing 'spot the cliche'. But I think this stuff still sounds fresh, and since the production on here is faultless and clear, and our MC's are nothin' if not professional and strong, it's like you've been transformed back in time when you're hearing it. In fact, the transportative power of this music is one stiff fucker, you put it in, and you're in Compton through the eyes of Dre, and filtered through a twisted mind made worse by too much THC. Humor in the vein of 'The $20 Sack Pyramid' wrestles for superiority with the horror movie clips like the intro to 'A Nigga Witta Gun', and mixed up with some of the Public Enemy-style black power speeches interspersed all over the CD. It's schizoid, to say the least, but it draws you in and then snaps its dirty jaws shut.
Capn's Final Word: Take a walk through the less picturesque parts of LA courtesy of Dre, the Francis Ford Coppola of rap music.
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Rob1178@aol.com Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: Your review of the album was inciteful. I never wrote an email to someone just doin what you doin for free but what you say is true... and I just gotta say that I liked Eazy-E but he was a weak rapper. It always sounded like he was'nt flowing or something. But he did give a damn about his people, and I respected that. Not to say Dre did'nt, but he did'nt seem to have the heart and soul of a man who's had a hard time. Anyway, thank you for appreciating some real talent.
I don't have this Aftermath Records sampler record that has such big ol' fun times as Dre ceasing doing gangsta rap (temporarily) and replacing it with what is allegedly straight up R&B. Lots of guest stars, probably Dre has only a limited role in the proceedings. Ain't got it, probably won't anytime in my lifetime. I was digging through all my CDs today, and I really have a shitload....I gotta stop buying shit I know sucks, and I'm pretty convinced that this is some orally talented shit.
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Tone big.tone@maddhattentertainment Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: I'm disappointed in your review man. Hip hop heads hated Dr. Dre Presents The Aftermath because they thought it was
supposed to be The Chronic 2 and that wasn't what it was. People that bought that album with the wrong mind set always say that it sucks but I've played tracks from that album to some of those same people who said it sucked and they thought the track was HOT!!! We played Sexy Dance at my brothers weddding and that one really got the room hyped. Everyone asked me who did the album or could I dub a copy of it for them and when I told them that it was Dre's new album they all said that they heard that it sucked and shit like that. I changed a lot of minds that night and a few of those people went out and bought the album. The truth is that east coast killa... could have been a hot track but he used the wrong people. He couldn't use Snoop because he was still on Death Row and the beef was still hot but he could have gotten Ice Cube to spit for the west instead of B-real. I did like RBXs opening verse I thought it was the best one. He definitly should have tried to get Redman or Method Man or both and left Nas and KRS-One in the wind and if he could pull it off get Biggie on the track since he was still alive. He tried to get Busta Rhymes for that track and to rap the last verse on Fame but for whatever reason it fell apart and ended up with King Tee instead. The tragic thing about this album is that when you listen to it and read the album jacket along with it you really see that Dre had put together a team of artist that could have sold millions of records. Reuben Cruz was fire - great look, strong voice, and a blazing Dre track on Sexy Dance. Whoz Who was solid on Second Chance and Nationowl had me fiendin for his solo album. What happened to all these artists hell for that matter what happened to Hitman?
(Capn's Response: Number one, thanks for writing so much about a toss-off album that no one bought. You've put more thought into than the rest of us. Secondly, you're 'disappointed' in a review that DOES NOT EXIST. Perhaps you might try Prozac? I hear they're doing great things these days with people who perpetually have a sad face on.)
firstname.lastname@example.org Your Rating: B+
Any Short Comments?: The only reason i give this a B+ because it just shows how good Dr. Dre is as a producer. What i mean by this is the only 4 good songs onn the whole cd, and i mean theres only 4!. There produced by dre!.. stands out soo bad. And you cant say dre is a bad rapper, hes one of the best in the game. even today
Your Rating: B
Any Short Comments?: I am only giving a B because you said that Dre did a good job on dissin Eazy-e and that Eazy deserved it... but the thing is here, is that Dre always tried to promote an image that was not at all himself (which I don't have a problem with at all if you are that talented), but when the guy is trying to do it again he is faulted for it. That I do not think is fair. Maybe his new album did'nt sell him as much records, but at least it made you feel what is was like to be the "REAL" Dr. Dre. Oh and uh, I am not saying that Eazy-e was the greatest "G" ever, but I am saying that you can tell in his lyrics and presentation that he has suffered on the streets and through adversity. But no, he is not the king of gangter rap. Otherwise, I think your veiws are pretty much dead-on.
2001 - Aftermath 1999.
After 8 years in which Dre'd dropped gangsta rap for good and then ran back when he realised what a good money cow it was, he comes back with only his second real solo album, and he's intent on reclaiming his old territory no matter how old he's gotten. But he's sorta lost that big dick motherfucker with an ounce of THC blowing through his veins thang he had on The Chronic. He talks about how he's got a family and no one respects him for inventing gangsta rap, and puts samples of his wife telling him how much she loves him. This from the guy who used to say 'bitches aren't worth nothin'? And then goes on and writes a song about sluts? Alright, we've got a problem here...I guess it just isn't possible for a rap artist to grow old gracefully, he's too afraid that no one will take him seriously if he isn't talkin' about the same old shit he always was. Well, if he was a seriously messed up dirty old man, that would be fine, but he's a rich, well respected suit now, no matter how much he tries to tell you he's not ('Still The D.R.E' was the hit here). So what do I want from this? Well, if he really feels he needs to pull the usual gangsta rap moves he did 10 years ago, fine, but he's pulling his punches, like he doesn't really identify with this life anymore. If so, fine, write an album that avoids that same old guns/misogyny/nigga stuff. It's possible, you know...I've heard quite a few....there's still scary shit to rap about that doesn't have anything to do with talking about the crimes you wish you were doing if you were 10 years younger. One way or the other...as it is, I'm lost with what he's trying to do here.
The music done changed too, but that's not a bad thing. The beats are still loping and ripped by hazily-remembered 70's R&B hits, but that's where the similarity ends. In the era of 'all samples cleared', he's gotten over his P-Funk addiction and learned more than a few lessons about simplicity and spacial relations from RZA. Sometimes it's samey enough to cross the line between hypnotic and simply boring (which is the difference between 'Big Egos', which is harrowing, and 'Still D.R.E.', which sucks hard mixed nuts). When he pulls something fresh out of his Raiders cap, like 'What's The Difference' with its polka horns (listen!), it shows that his production skills are still top-notch.
God, if only that was true of the rappers on here. Dre is still Dre, which means he's lame but passable, but these other bastards, like Hitman, and Kurupt, and whoever else is one here, have some crippled lips. And the same, unfortunately, goes for Snoop, who has progressed from being a 19 year old middle aged man to being a middle aged (for rap) chump. He's lost his effortless muscle and now sounds like his lungs can't suck in enough air to push through his blunt-scarred pipes. It's some bad ol' days when you get the two of them together and Dre just kicks his ass. That's about the level of rapping we're speaking to here. (I'm with Prindle...saying 'speaking to' then you mean 'addressing' is about as bad as saying 'focusing on' too much, or making verbs out of nouns that shouldn't be changed, like bitch fucked asshole -> bitch fucked assholish. I mean, that's just low.) When Eminem makes an appearance, he shows up all the other rappers so badly that if I were him, I'd be watching out for retaliatory drive-bys. Just listen to his clipped sprint on 'Forgot About Dre'...that's some wicked rapping. Shit! I just had a revelation...Eminem is Dre's new Eazy-E! He's got the same octave-too-high voice, the same senseless violence, the same pandering to trends....shit! It's true! Eazy kicks off after getting AIDS from some nasty crack whore, and Dre goes out and finds himself a white replacement. There's some weirdass theories threatening to poke their way out of my mouth at any point of the day, I gotta tell ya.
So, in short, Dre gives us an album that's badly rapped, has lyrics we've heard for years now laid out by guys with 8 figures in the bank, delivered over pretty strong beats. But I'm afraid this doesn't often get my head moving, so why put myself through listening to an album I get so little out of? Dre should stick to cashing his producer's checks....
Capn's Final Word: About as revolutionary as wearing loose jeans down around your ass and calling women 'bitches'. The late 90's weren't kind to this kind of music.
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Cassidy Your Rating: A
Any Short Comments?: First of all.. Never put RZA's name EVER in the same level as dre.
pedro andino email@example.com Your Rating: A-
Any Short Comments?: in 1999, everywhere you look in music was puketastic teen pop! in the rock world the napster controversy goes haywire! dr.dre hits the big one with the 2001 album! the real deal in gangsta rap like fear of a black planet. eminem came with blazing verses in forget about dre. fuck the gangsta pussys like 50 and ja, this is reaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaal gangsta music! by the way, great site yo'!.
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