If you don’t understand how long it has been since Dr. Dre released a new album, consider that his last release came when Bill Clinton was still sitting in the Oval Office. Sixteen years and two presidencies later, Dr. Dre resurfaces with a new album. No, it is not “Detox,” but something that actually meets his standards.
Instead of the highly anticipated “Detox” album that Dre had been promising since 2007, Dre revealed on his radio show, “The Pharmacy,” that “Detox” had been nixed in favor of an album that not only coincides with the release of the successful N.W.A biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” but came about because of the film.
As he stated on “The Pharmacy,” “During principal photography of ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ I felt myself going to the studio and being so inspired by the movie that I started recording an album… It’s an ‘inspired by’ album. It’s inspired by ‘Straight Outta Compton,’ we’re gonna call the album ‘Compton: The Soundtrack.’ I’m really proud of this.”
Dre even went as far as to call this album his “grand finale” and it certainly feels that way.
This 16-track “soundtrack” features a star-studded supporting cast joining the good doctor; from prodigies like Eminem, The Game and Kendrick Lamar to long-time collaborators Snoop Dogg and Ice Cube. “Compton” is the album that hip-hop fans deserve. It’s Dre’s tour de force in what could very well be the final release in his successful career that has spanned four decades. The emphasis on “Compton” isn’t on Dre himself, but rather on his hometown of Compton and ensuring the future of hip-hop is left in good hands with youngsters like King Mez, Justus, Jon Connor and Anderson Paak.
Unlike its predecessors “The Chronic” and “2001,” “Compton” possesses a narrative that mimics a cinematic experience and holds the album altogether. It helps make sense of the skits between certain tracks, giving the songs a purpose that is beyond simply being hits and justifying the album being billed as “A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre.” However, this is Dre we’re talking about. He wouldn’t release an album without making sure his beats are top notch and emotional. Some tracks like “It’s All On Me” and “All In a Day’s Work” contain remnants of Dre’s classic G-funk sounds. Other tracks such as “Genocide,” “Deep Water,” and “Talk About It” shows that Dre can successfully adapt to the ever-changing sounds of hip-hop.
While Dre has always shined when composing beats, he was never known as a top tier lyricist, yet he more than holds up his end of the deal when behind the microphone in “Compton.” Dre not only takes the time to impress, he is more than generous in allowing his guests to takeover on his tracks, giving guys like Kendrick Lamar and Eminem the opportunity to create complete and utter chaos with their unapologetic flows. Dre’s generosity also proved beneficial for The Game who returned to his true form as a brutal lyricist, while the seasoned veterans Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg join this celebration of the city of Compton, lending their wisdom through their forever colorful rhymes.
It may have taken Dr. Dre 16 years to finally get another solo LP out to the hip-hop community, but it proves to be more than worth the wait. Instead of possibly letting fans down with “Detox,” Dre went back to the drawing board and reemerged with an urban masterpiece in “Compton” that should make even the most jaded fan smile. When all is said and done, “Compton” stands tall as one of the deepest, most ambitious and complete albums of 2015. If this proves to be the doctor’s final effort, he certainly did it with the right style. Take a bow, Dr. Dre.
Rating: 4 out of 5