Well internet, it’s your favorite hip-hop historian, the insomniac with an attitude… Keithnicity, back with another one. Before I start this, I’m not going to write a big career introspective piece on Dr. Dre, and I’m not even really going to introduce him. If you’re here, I’m gonna assume you know this man and his work. Can you believe it’s been 14 YEARS since Dr. Dre dropped the Chronic 2001? That’s a decade and a half. If you really wanna feel old, how about the Chronic? 21 years old. Anyways, just the other day was the anniversary of this album (the Chronic 2001) and it has widely been accepted as a hip-hop classic. Have you listened to it lately? Has it aged well? Was it ever even really a classic, or was everyone just excited to have a new album from the good doctor? I like to thoroughly review things, and it’s been a while since I dusted off this album. Let’s see how it holds up today with a good ol’ fashioned track for track review, shall we?
1. LOLO (Intro) ~ I won’t really penalize Dr. Dre for the skits. This album was released in 1999. Did anyone else notice that from roughly 1997 til’ about the mid-00′s hip-hop was just LOVING the unnecessary skits? Very rarely did you see a skit used thoughtfully to add to the narrative like Kendrick Lamar’s last opus, and occasionally they were hilarious. Rarely ever did a skit REALLY add anything to the album to be honest though. Ok, enough about skits… lol.
2. The Watcher ~ So this is the first track fans have heard from Dr. Dre since the very dismal and universally disappointing Dr. Dre Presents… The Aftermath compilation abortion. This is a good song but it’s not the strongest opener it could be. It’s a little bit under produced for a Dr. Dre song, don’t get me wrong, I LOVE this song and it’s the best rapping you’d hear from the Dr. in a long time. It’s just not the BANGER he could have started the show off with. It’s amazing to me that Nas wrote this, you’d never guess that unless you hit the credits. That’s not a slight either, that’s a testament to Nas’ writing abilities, he crafted this for Dre’s mouth perfectly. A BRILLIANT track, just not exactly what I would have opened the album off with.
3. Fuck You ~ Here we go… the party is gettin’ started! Is there ANYONE who doesn’t appreciate this smooth as hot butter ode to strippers and fine females? Devin the Dude and Snoop turn in some FANTASTIC verses on this pimped out groove. Dr. Dre’s verse was a tad creepy given his age, but we’ll forgive him. The bassline just drips and oozes with classic West Coast’ness. I feel like this would have been a half decent opener for the album. However…
4. Still D.R.E. ~ WOW. HOW ON EARTH did he not make this the first track on the album? Can you imagine back in the day throwing this CD in the player and before you can even say anything THIS hits your ears? I really don’t care what anyone says, not only is this the best track on this album, this is one of the best rap songs in the last 20 years. Snoop or Dre didn’t exactly reinvent the wheel here, classic West Coast gangster rap bars, which is what everyone wants from these two anyways. Although Jay Z DID pen a perfect verse for Dr. Dre. The real star here is the beat. RIDICULOUS. This is like if you take the best song from the Chronic, put it into a time machine, and sent it to the future and added some shit and then brought it back to save gangsta rap. Updated, futuristic G Funk would be the only way to describe it.
5. Big Ego’s ~ Obviously not the crowning achievement Still D.R.E. was. This is a good track to put after it though. It continues well in the vein of the updated G Funk sound with that cold piano loop. The chorus suffers just a tad from corniness. Hit Man is alright as well no one would be mad at him, but has anyone ever said “YO, DID YOU HEAR THAT NEW HITTMAN SONG? SON KILLED IT!!!” no I don’t think anyone ever said that. Still a decent track in it’s own way.
6. Xxplosive ~ This song is Kurupt’s song. Kurrupt KILLED this song. I love hearing Kurupt over some Dr. Dre beats and at the time of this album it had been far too long. This beat is ridiculous, there’s even a xylophone sprinkled in there how many rap songs can say that? A classic hook from Nate Dogg (R.I.P) is just the PERFECT for this festive celebration of everything West Coast and gangster. I even gotta hand it to Hittman, he didn’t sound terrible bookending this song after Kurupt’s monster of a verse.
7. What’s the Difference ~ The moment everyone was waiting for… Eminem’s contribution to this project. We all knew it was coming and we knew it was gonna be dope but WOW. I feel bad for Xzibit on this song to be honest. I mean it’s Dre’s party so he can really do no wrong, but Xzibit’s verse is COMPLETELY forgotten once Em’s verse starts. He destroyed this song. This was Em at his absolute PRIME and it shows on this song. The way he tied this guest appearance in with his first album was Genius as well. Also let’s not forget about this beat, what a monster! This just might be my second favorite track on the album.
8. Bar One ~ Yet another skit, I really have NO IDEA why this needed to be on this album, at least it’s brief.
9. Light Speed ~ This is the first song that I’m pretty luke warm on. The beat sounds kinda mailed in when you compare it to the bangers we’ve just heard. It’s kinda cool hearing Dre give you a little retrospective on his career and all. Hittman as per usual is pretty whatever. This song really could have been left out to be honest. It just doesn’t HIT like the rest of the album up to this point.
10. Forgot about Dre ~ And then there was this… HOLY SHIT. Eminem murdered the hook. Then he murdered the track. The beat is RIDICULOUS. An excellent counter balance to the snappin’ bounce production we’ve been hearing from the South at this time, and it somehow still sounds West Coast as hell. Can we also talk about Dr. Dre doing a double time verse? YES!!! Never before has it been quite so obvious who his ghostwriter was (Eminem). Then Eminem comes in and just CRUSHES the song. Either this song or What’s the Difference would HAVE to be my choice for second best song on the album and I can’t even really call it to this day. Eminem should pretty much write everything Dr. Dre says for the rest of his career.
11. The Next Episode ~ The party just continues without a breather. Snoop sounds reinvigorated in the best pimp rap verse he’s laid down since Doggystyle on this thing. Kurupt’s adlibs on this song are CLASSIC as well, he made the song without even getting a verse. This beat is SO West Coast, just dripping with that classic updated G Funk we’ve been enjoying all over this project. As if all that wasn’t enough Nate Dogg just couldn’t resist getting in on this with that CLASSIC song ender and possibly most quoted phrase in hip-hop “SMOKE WEED EVERYDAY!”. Beautiful.
12. Let’s Get High ~ Well it’s obvious that Dr. Dre felt the need to try and keep the party going with mixed results here. Kurrupt puts down some fresh bars but the beat itself is pretty played out sounding to be honest. This is also the least exciting verse I’ve heard from Kurupt on this album, the chorus sounds mailed in as well. It’s not terrible, it just doesn’t hold it’s own very well when compared to what we’ve heard so far. This is another song that could have hit the cutting room floor without anyone getting too shook.
13. Bitch Niggaz ~ This song is like the hangover on the album. Musically it’s pretty ambitious but it’s just not that memorable. Snoop sounds kind of lazy on this especially when compared to the ridiculous verse he put down on the Next Episode. Hittman certainly doesn’t help rejuvenate this sleeper either. The beat is just too tired and turned down for this album in my opinion. That chorus is just sooooo lazy as well.
14. The Car Bomb ~ Really Dre? This skit seems like a tired refried attempt at the much more intense and alarming skit Ice Cube turned in on Amerikkkas Most Wanted, the Drive By. Which was a much better skit.
15. Murder Ink ~ Here we have the pre-requisite serial killer song of the album. Again, this song coulda been cut. The hard hitting gangster rap tracks on the original Chronic came WAY harder than this. The beat and the concept sounded fairly dated at that time, so listening to it in 2013 it sounds REALLY dated. Plus once again Hittman just isn’t doing Dr. Dre any favors on this track.
16. Ed-Ucation ~ Maybe I just have a soft spot for Eddie Griffin but this is the first and ONLY skit I liked on this album. Eddie is hilarious. If you aren’t trying to tell a story or add to the overall narrative of the album with your skits, make ‘em funny! That’s just my opinion.
17. Some L.A. Niggaz ~ Finally a decent track on the second half of this album. Not a GREAT track by any means but a decent one. It’s nice to hear King Tee spitting some bars. Hittman get’s his whatever on as usual. I would have liked this track more with just King Tee and Xzibit. They compliment each other well. The beat is a bit turned down, coulda been a bit more lively. It was also fun to hear Kokane on the hook with his creepy/weird vocals. It would have been nice to hear MC Ren actually put a verse down on this as well.
18. Pause 4 Porno ~ REALLY unnecessary is all I have to say about this after birth of a skit. I can see that it was meant to be a segue to the next track but still, very not required.
19. Housewife ~ A rehash of a track from an old Kurupt album. This ain’t gonna make anyone mad though. Honestly this is probably the best track on the second half of the album. As a laid back, breezy track this does MUCH more for the album than Bitch Niggaz did. This song would have benefited infinitely by a nice Nate Dogg hook though if you ask me.
20. Ackrite ~ Ok a Hittman solo track… meh. It’s not the worst thing you’ll ever hear, the piano riff is catchy. His rhymes are just too mediocre overall though. Especially when you have Snoop and Eminem spitting career defining verses earlier on this thing.
21. Bang Bang ~ I don’t know if I’m the only one but overall I just found this song annoying. The chorus DEFINITELY is annoying. Dr. Dre doesn’t spit a half bad gangsta rap verse, Knoc’turnal does a really good job on his verse. The beat isn’t really terrible but again, it’s just another gangsta rap song competing with classics on the first half of the album. Hittman once again goes for middle of the road harder than ever. I hate to say it but this is another skiptastic track.
22. The Message ~ You know… when I first heard this album in 1999 I HATED this song. I thought it didn’t fit the album at all (I still think that). I found it hyper boring, I was just mad at this song. In 2013 though, I understand it better and it is a really good song. I think Dr. Dre was just really trying to prove that he could do more than just smoke weed, slap bitches, and shoot at haters on a track. He proved it, in this heartfelt ode to his deceased brother, and then Eazy. Mary J does the somber song justice with her soulful crooning. I’m really glad Dr. Dre decided to put this song at the end of the album though, if this was right in the middle it would have been too jarring and it would have ruined the experience.
So on to the final verdict. This album is a near classic (Gasps from the audience). It’s just bloated. Hittman had WAY too much involvement here period. There’s all these useless skits that do nothing to enhance the tracks themselves. The second half of this album is Snoozeville to be honest. It’s not terrible but it just can’t even come close to the CLASSIC and exciting first half. The first half of this album IS some of the best gangsta rap of our generation though. So it’s a frustrating listen. You’re either being blown away or let down. This album could have benefited a lot from more Nate Dogg, Snoop, Eminem, Kurupt and even Xzibit. Dr. Dre was trying to showcase Hittman WAY too much. I would have to give this album a 4.5 outta 5. I would be tempted to give it a perfect rating for that first half but the second half can’t be ignored, it’s boring, I SAID IT!!! If Dr. Dre had cut more tracks from the program this would have been a perfect album for sure.
The opinions and views expressed here are the opinions of the designated author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or views of any of the individual members of Dead End Hip Hop.