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Dr. Dre

The Nuanced Evolution of Dr. Dre’s Compton

For the past couple weeks, my Silver Screen & Roll Editor-in-Chief Drew Garrison and I have been unpacking Dr. Dre’s newest album Compton. These 16 meticulously crafted tracks have made waves in the music industry and popular culture, not just for its connection to Dr. Dre, but also for its presence alongside the N.W.A smash hit biopic, Straight Outta Compton. After a dozen e-mails and countless chat conversations, Drew and I got down to discussing this landmark record.

KOBEsh: 16 years and all we got is a soundtrack?

That statement couldn’t be more literal, but the sentiment couldn’t be further from the truth.

For the past 16 years, it’s a disservice to say that the hip-hop world has been waiting for Dr. Dre’s follow-up to 2001 because it’s actually been the entire music world was left wanting more. Rumors floated in and out of circulation, with co-producers, co-writers, guest rappers, recording studio engineers and personal friends alike slyly admitting that they in fact, had been working on the long-awaited Detox. The album grew in legend as the rumors, years and mystery grew in concert, with Dre’s new project becoming the hip-hop cousin to Axel Rose’s Chinese Democracy. And even as that fabled record finally came to life in 2008, Detox was nowhere to be found. Popular culture wondered if the years of speculation would indeed lead to anything of substance.

The good doctor, it seems, is not without a sense of humor.

Just as we came upon a second decade of anticipation for Detox, Dr. Dre’s new record, Compton, ironically appeared out of nowhere.

With 16 brand new tracks, the Dre-helmed album is, in a word, dense. So dense, in fact, that it’s taken myself and my co-writer Drew Garrison over a week to digest the entire work and come up with some thoughts. There is so much to Compton musically, thematically and lyrically that unpacking it in a single sitting is impossible. “Density” is the most anyone could really get out of one listen, in all sincerity.

I’ve got a ton of thoughts about the record, but Drew, let’s start the discussion here: what’s the first word that comes to mind when you think of Compton?

Drew Garrison: Evolved.

Dr. Dre’s probably most known for picking apart smooth samples and laying out perfect drums over the top of it, but Compton is a lifetime’s journey away from The Chronic. Considering it’s been over 20 years between those albums, and Andre Young isn’t busy taking us on a ride through his sweet chariot anymore, it’s only fitting the album is in a different world thematically. He’s a successful businessman, one of the most respected figures in music history, and is finally ready to share the latest chapter in his life.… Read more...