The wait is over.
After 16 years of anticipation, Hip-hop mogul Dr. Dre has finally released his third official studio album entitled “Compton”. The project is inspired by the highly anticipated N.W.A. biopic “Straight Outta Compton”, which hits theaters August 14.
Compton features big names such as Kendrick Lamar, The Game, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Xzibit and Jill Scott.
How about the new artists?
Dr. Dre is the Gregg Popovich of hip-hop. If you don’t believe me, just look at the careers of Eminem, 50 Cent, Snoop Dogg and The Game. Now, at the same time, working with Dre doesn’t guarantee you everlasting success (see: Bishop Lamont, Last Emperor and Hittman), but it does give you the opportunity to brand yourself.
Asia Bryant, Jon Connor, Candice Pillay, BJ The Chicago Kid and Anderson. Paak are hoping they’re the next wave of young talent to thrive under Dre’s guidance.
“The new artists I got like King Mez and Justus, these two guys actually came in and just grinded with me throughout the entire project,” Dre said. “As a matter of fact, most of the lyrics are written by us three. We would just go into the studio, put up the track and for some reason, the stars aligned and we killed it, man.”
The album kicks off with this touching story on the history of Compton.
Compton was the American dream. Sunny California with a palm tree in the front yard, the camper, the boat. Temptingly close to the Los Angeles ghetto in the 50’s and 60’s, it became “The Black American Dream”. Open housing paved the way as middle-class blacks flooded into the city. Whites don’t buy houses in Compton anymore. Now with 74% of the population, black power is the fact of life. From banks to bowling alleys. But the dream that many blacks thought they were buying has turned sour. Though the mayor and four out of five city councilmen are black, they have been unable to solve the problems of crime and growing welfare which is slowing turning suburban Compton into an extension of the black innercity. Crime is now as high as the ghetto. 47 homicides last year gave Compton one of the highest per capital rates in the country. Juvenile gang activity, muggings, small robberies make some blacks want to leave.
Immediately following the intro, King Mez starts off “Talk About It“. This song is a great way to jump start the album, mainly due to Mez’s aggressive and intellectual style coupled with Justus’ change of pace on the hook.
While Mez’s opening verse was hard, his second verse breathes the confidence you love to see in a young artist.
What the f*ck was y’all thinking?
You let the wrong young n**** lean with a legend
‘Lotta new n****s talking crazy on the records
I’m the only king here, you can tell ’em that I said it
I’m the black Eminem, I’m the humbler 50
I’m D.O.C., who do it better? Nobody f*ckin’ with me
I murder rappers everyday, til’ police come and get me
And Dre just come and bail me out and then we hit the studio
Ain’t no new rap in my ear, too many depressed n****s
Emotional every song, deserve to have fresh n****s
Cry about my old girl, but ain’t how I left n****s
Try and get my Xbox, Red Ring of Death n****s
I’m Kanye raising the diamond every day in the chain
If this was you, your diamond wouldn’t be worth the appraisal
I’m just talking reckless, I’m just off the record
But I mean it, kept my blessings
We was dreaming, now we close enough to see it
Comparing yourself to Eminem, 50 and Kanye all in one verse?
This is where I expected the album to piggyback off the opening track, but that wasn’t the case. “Genocide” features Kendrick Lamar, Marsha Ambrosius and Candice Pillay. Whenever K. Dot is on a song, expectations are always high, but this one disappointed to say the least.
The beat is very basic and repetitive. Also, I feel like I hear the term “Murder” 100 times.
Justus made his second appearance on “It’s All On Me“, but BJ the Chicago Kid stole the show here with his very soulful and relatable chorus.
And it all falls back on me
Sometimes, somehow, it all falls back on me
(Somehow it always fall back on me)
No matter where we are, no matter what we doing, it’s on me
If it was up to you that’s just the way it’s always gon’ be
Oh yeah, we also found out why Dre is so fascinated with chronic.
Now it’s ’91 and Snoop Dogg came to visit
And was like “What up cuz? Let me show you what this chronic like”
Couldn’t help myself, just had to dip into that chronic life
“All in a Day’s Work” is the next track and it illustrates the art of working hard on your craft. Dre and Anderson .Paak feed off each other throughout this one as if they’ve been partnered together for years. The production here is on point, as you’re forced to appreciate the instruments in the background.
In his lone appearance, Ice Cube made his presence felt with his classic rugged tone and assertiveness. The legend ended his verse on “Issues” in vintage fashion.
F*ck you! Respected from SoCal out to the Bay
Cashed a lot of checks this mornin’, guess today was a good day
As we walk into the heart of the album, this is where Kendrick Lamar begins to steal the show. The Compton native delivers with elite bars as usual, but he seems to be taking some shots at Drake in a couple of tracks.
Check out K.Dot’s bars from Darkside/Gone:
But still I got enemies giving me energy I wanna fight now
Subliminally sent to me all of this hate
I thought I was holding the mic down
I thought I was holding my city up
I thought I was good in the media
You think I’m too hood in my video?
But really no clue you idiot
The subliminal messages there were light in comparison to the ones in “Deep Water“. Everyone knows about Drake’s hit single “Started from the Bottom”, which is what Kendrick apparently used against Drake in these first two lines:
Motherf*cker know I started from the bottom, vodka baby bottle
Mixin’ up with Similac, my momma knew I had a problem
Towards the end of the verse, Kendrick looks to go even harder at the self proclaimed “6 God”.
Switch it up before my enemy or the sheriff got me
They liable to bury him, they nominated six to carry him
They worry him to death, but he’s no vegetarian
The beef is on his breath, inheriting the drama better than
A great white, n**** this is life in my aquarium
Drake has already basically dethroned Meek Mill, so is Kendrick next?
“Loose Cannons” starts off well with Dre coming in on his usual boss status. After Dre’s verse, the whole mood changes when Xzibit takes the mic, which is when things begin to go downhill. At the end of the track, Dre has received a lot of backlash for the skit where he shoots a female and begins to start digging.
Only Dre can get away with not appearing on two songs on his own album, which is the case with the next two tracks.
Newcomer Jon Connor made his debut on the album alongside the iconic Snoop Dogg on “One Shot One Kill“. This track carries an uptempo pace with a rock type of feel. It’s an easy track to vibe to.
“Just Another Day” is the shortest song on the album (2:21), but The Game made his presence felt in his extended verse. The Game is a Compton native in his own right and he displayed his versatility, as he switched up his flow and tone multiple times.
Asia Bryant sounds great on that hook, doesn’t she?
After dissecting this project, most of the tracks display your vintage hip-hop sound, but “For the Love of Money” has hit written all over it.
Jill Scott’s soothing vocals draws you in within the opening seconds, as she repeats “For the love of money”. Then, she proceeds to really shine during the hook and bridge.
On the opening verse, Jon Connor brought the passion that would make his hometown of Flint, Michigan proud.
Still a good n**** I’m a Northside n**** til I’m gone
Do it for the ones in the hood like Connor gon’ put the city on
F*ck that sh*t n****, f*ck that sh*t go
Live for my hood, look this for my block
Ride for the hood, gotta spit it like Pac
Meanwhile, on the second verse, Dre and Anderson. Paak were doing that joint thing again and once again, the chemistry was great. Expect to hear this song on the radio soon.
A track that won’t receive a lot of radio play is “Satisfiction”. Marsho Ambrosius did her thing on the hook, but none of the verses jump out. This is one of those tracks that just goes through the motions. Maybe after 20 more listens, it’ll become more appealing, but as of right now, it’s alright at best.
The Dre and Anderson. Paak duo is reaching legendary status (okay, maybe not). This time on “Animals”, the tandem speaks about police brutality and the stereotypes African-American people face.
The police don’t come around these parts
They tell me that we all a bunch of animals
The only time they wanna turn the cameras on
Is when we’re f*ckin’ shit up, come on
Dre took it a step further:
But I’m a product of the system raised on government aid
And I knew just how to react when it was time for that raid (whoa)
Just a young black man from Compton wondering who could save us
And could barely read the sentences the justice system gave us
So many rental cars with bricks, I think they probably funded Avis
Some of us was unbalanced but some us used our talents
Not all of us criminals but cops be yelling, “Stay back n****!”
We need a little bit of payback
Don’t treat me like an animal cause all this sh*t is flammable
Don’t fuck around cause when it’s done it’s done
Okay, let me just say Candice Pillay, Anderson. Paak and Dre did a good job on this track. Now that I got that out of the way, it’s time to talk about the best verse on the album provided by none other than Eminem.
Slim Shady brought his vintage flow to the table, while discussing his race and other off the wall topics that I’ll just let you listen to for yourself.
As Dre closes out the album, the legend begins to ‘talk to his diary’, which is him reminiscing on the good ‘ole days.
I know Eazy can see me now, looking down through the clouds
And regardless, I know my n**** still proud
It’s been a while since we spoke but you still my folks
We used to sit back, laugh and joke
Now I remember when we used to do all-nighters
You in the booth and Cube in the corner writing
Where Ren at? Shout out to my n**** Yella
Damn, I miss that
Sh*t, a n**** having flashbacks
Considering we haven’t heard from Dre in years, this was a nice way for him to end “Compton”, giving his fans a personal connection.
Final thoughts: Overall, I’ll give this project a 7 out of 10. Dre brought in a lot of respected names to participate, but since we had to wait so long for another album, maybe my expectations were too high. The quality of good songs is here, however, the lack of ‘hit’ songs holds it back a bit. Trust me, it’s Dre, so I didn’t come in expecting to hear club records. Nonetheless, this project would’ve done more justice if the sound as a while had more of a true west coast feel. With all of that being said, this is still a very well put together album and it’s worth your hard earned bucks.
Let me know what you guys think on Twitter @MarkAGunnels.