Spin #69 : Dr Dre : The Chronic
SUNDAY DROP - SPIN #69
I remember Dr Dre's second studio album '2001' more so than his debut after leaving the world's most dangerous group, N.W.A. Something happened between Eazy-E and Dr. Dre and financial disputes resulted in Dre leaving not long after Ice Cube left and ventured over to the East Coast. It was sad to see N.W.A dissolve but it launched the career of Dre as a solo artist to the world and we also got introduced to Snoop Dogg too. There are so many disses on this album aimed towards Eazy-E and the manager of the band that it's seen more as a cathartic experience to lay down all the anger on an album. I would have been 3 years old when 'The Chronic' was released and I didn't end up hearing it until I would have been 15 or 16. Is it a better debut album than Ice Cube's ? I think the production levels are a lot better and that comes down to Dre's natural ear for it.
In terms of hits, there are three singles released from this album but it's one that you put on your turntable and let it play all the way through like a radio session in your car. There is so much going on, with short skits and sound changes that make you switch off and relax. For this one I have let it play on our front room turntable to make the most of the Winter sun. That consists of our Audio Technica turntable and Marshall Woburn II speaker.
ALBUMS OF NOTE (1992): Rage Against The Machine - Rage Against The Machine, Dry - PJ Harvey, Dirt - Alice In Chains, Vulgar Display of Power - Pantera, Harvest Moon - Neil Young, Countdown To Extinction - Megadeth, Fear of the Dark - Iron Maiden, Dehumanizer - Black Sabbath, Core - Stone Temple Pilots, The Ritual - Testament, Automatic for the People - R.E.M, Angel Dust - Faith No More, Love Symbol Album - Prince
Image : Dr. Dre
I'm guessing a lot of you will have this one on wax, so right-a-bout now is the time to take out LP1 and get ready to #dropthestylus
In all the imagery across 'The Chronic' album, they have purposely shown Dre by himself to highlight the fact that he is his own man now after leaving N.W.A. He has a knack for producing albums and wouldn't have really rapped if it hadn't been for Ice Cube also leaving the band. That forced Dre to step up and even though he doesn't rap on every track across 'The Chronic', he gets to showcase other artists. This is more like an introduction album for Snoop Dogg and he shines right across the album. There are only three songs that Snoop isn't on compared to Dre who doesn't feature vocally on six tracks. Dre is more at home when he is promoting other artists and giving them tasty beats. That's why when Dre found Marshall Mathers (Eminem), they blossomed so quickly due to E wanting to rap and Dre wanting to produce. Remember, Dre only has three albums and they owe a lot to the formula of N.W.A of samples and skits to create a flowing, living time capsule from the '90s.
Who could forget Marion Hugh Knight Jnr, a.k.a "Suge Knight", the executive producer and former CEO of Death Row Records. Now incarcerated until 2034 for various crimes and violations and involvement regarding 2-Pac and Biggie Smalls deaths. It was Knight who managed to get Dre out of his contract with Ruthless Records and offered assistance to Dre in the early days. As the stylus drops onto the introduction, 'THE CHRONIC (INTRO)', I smile because I dressed our son (K) all warm this morning and he looked like Eminem from 8 Mile. He is growing up so fast and learning all of his letters currently as the sunshine comes through the window. It has been so windy lately and doesn't allow us to go to the playground with the kids. I like having so many different styles of music to fall back on and can easily go from country on Kicks FM in our car to G-Funk rap on our turntable. Don't get me wrong, I love some heavy music but sometimes it's nice to appreciate different genres. An album that I liked whilst driving a lot for work this week was the new one from Nothing But Thieves called, 'Dead Club City'.
It's interesting because Suge Knight was involved with the Bloods gang and Snoop Dogg is a member of the Cripps - don't know how that worked. As fans of music, very happy that they managed to make it work to release this album and 'Doggystyle' (debut album of Snoop Dogg). The intro of 'The Chronic' is Dre welcoming everyone briefly before Snoop lays some smackdown on Eazy-E and manager Jerry Heller. He even does an impersonation of Eazy which is funny but becomes sad on reflection when Eazy passed away a number of years later. Good to see that they put all their beef aside in the future but this album was released out of hatred and ambition. I like the samples used and how it flows into second track, 'FUCK WIT DRE DAY (AND EVERYBODY'S CELEBRATIN'). This is probably one of the bigger songs on the album but Dre sounds less angry compared to his verses aimed at Cube in N.W.A's second studio album. Our daughter has been battling with her molars lately and is such a cruel thing that children have to experience. She is currently asleep and missing this one but I will get to show her this album in the future. As you listen along, just picture that record labels in the '90s became gangs basically and it was Ruthless Records vs Death Row Records. This album is strongest when Dre and Snoop are sharing the limelight going back and forth. It reminds me a lot of MC Ren and Ice Cube on 'Straight Outta Compton' album - if you haven't seen our 52nd Sunday Spin - check it out here.
Side A keeps rolling along after Snoop tells everyone to eat a big fat something and we move into the slow bop, rasta feeling song called, 'LET ME RIDE'. Dre sounds more angry as he spits on this opening verse and he takes a breath as the hook gets played before reloading his venom - "Just another motherfuckin' day for Dre, so I'll begin like this. No medallions, dreadlocks or back fists, It's just that gangsta glare with gangsta raps. That gangsta shit makes a gangs of snaps, uh Word to the motherfuckin' streets and word to these hyped-ass lyrics and dope beats. That I hit you with, that I get you with as I groove in my four on D's, hittin the switches". This song and album really asks you to play this on a bass heavy system or headphones to get the most out of each track. I'd have to listen to this one on his very own headphones brand - Beats to see what it's like.
Last track on Side A is 'THE DAY THE NIGGAZ TOOK OVER' and it starts off with some horror movie sounds before rolling into the vocals by Dre, RBX, Snoop and Daz. It feels darker and more focused for a gang hit before sampling news reports from riots on the West Coast. Dre sounds powerful and passionate on this one and draws you in to follow what he is saying. Whilst away on my trip, I stumbled across some very nice coastal towns and took note of which ones that I want to return with my family. Manifest good things and good things will manifest. Time to flip LP 1 over and drop the stylus on Side B.
Without a doubt, the biggest track on 'The Chronic' is up first with the collaboration between Dre and Snoop called, 'NUTHIN' BUT A "G" THANG'. I like the samples and beat that kicks this one off. I remember when Night Kat Kiz and I were driving somewhere before we had kids and dating, pretending one of us was Snoop and the other was Dre, singing a gangsta duet you could say. Pretty sure Kiz was Dre and when he comes in with, "Well, I'm peepin' and I'm creepin' and I'm creepin', But I damn near got caught 'cause my beeper kept beepin'. Now it's time for me to make my impression felt, So sit back, relax, and strap on your seat belt. You never been on a ride like this befo', With a producer who can rap and control the maestro. At the same time with the dope rhyme that I kick, You know and I know, I flow some old funky shit. To add to my collection, the selection. Symbolizes dope, take a toke, but don't choke, If you do, you'll have no clue
Of what me and my homie Snoop Dogg came to do". I didn't realise that Snoop was locked up when he recorded his vocals for this one - Dre called him up and got him to lay down his verses through the prison phone. Huge track and one that helped launch this album to triple platinum status in The United States of America so quickly.
A prank call starts off the track 'DEEEZ NUUUTS' and prank calls were such a big thing when I was growing up. This album definitely feels like a time capsule to the '90s for me and is amazing how quickly mankind moves through the decades and fads. I like this song because there is the multi artist collaboration angle that works well, similar to a wrestling tag team or royal rumble where everyone keeps coming at the mic to showcase their talent. I wonder what our children will be getting upto in the coming decades of the late '20s and '30s. Prank hologram calls?
A single that was released from the album is the chilled out and probably heavily drug influenced sounds of, 'LIL' GHETTO BOY'. Yesterday we drove to Jamberoo and watched a bit of the girls aus tag in the sunshine. It was the second time we had taken our son to that field and he saw the skatepark over at the back of the fields. Straight away he pointed and said that he wants to skate. I loved skateboarding as a kid and had likeminded friends growing up, where we spent every weekend with a board under our feet. I'll have to get him some pads and hold my breath as he learns to skate and drop in on quarter pipes and half pipes. He is a little daredevil and it won't be long before our daughter will want to skate also. There is a fine balance as a parent to let children experience something for themself and also protect them from something dangerous. If you protect them from absolutely everything they won't learn but if you let them do anything they want, they might break bones or worse. Every day it's important to just keep turning up and give everything you can to support them as a parent. I like the samples on this track and it is a more mellow sounding number to finish LP1. Have you enjoyed it so far? let me know on our socials or below in the comments as it's time to swap LP1 for LP2. I know the original pressing of this album was only on one LP and it would have flowed a little bit better.
Side C starts off with an introduction highlighting the glamourous (selling point) gangster life. You can also hear a sample of Snoop singing on the car radio in the background. 'A NIGGA WITTA GUN' has a slower, grimier beat that should have lead into the next track with a barrage of rounds being fired. Something in my head from another life is the definition of a loaded glock - "A magazine containing rounds is fitted, round in chamber, pistol can be fired". Had to memorise things for another job and it never leaves you. I would even put study notes to songs that I knew and replace the lyrics with what needed to be learnt. Rap music for me is something that I would put on if I was studying, because as I learn the material I also pair that with the lyrics of the song. Some people like classical, I like rap for study. Try it if you ever struggle to learn something for your studies. 'RAT-TAT-TAT-TAT' is a song that really feels like a filler track compared to the start of the album. Not sure how much Dre had ready to go in terms of material and what was added last minute.
'THE $20 SACK PYRAMID' is up next and is a funny skit where you are listening to a crack head game show. Hilarious because there are people in the world that think this is living - when really I feel sad for them because they do drugs to escape their lives instead of finding things to improve and get out of that cycle. The voices and impersonations are on point and is all tongue in cheek stuff added to the album. It actually works well to break up the tracks and is something that you can find on most rap albums from the '90s. Eminem does this tried and true formula perfectly and had the best support crew he could have to start off his rap career.
Without too much notice the skit ends and the sounds of 'LYRICAL GANGBANG' start coming through the speaker - "This should be played at high volume, preferably in a residential area". I like the aggression and reminds me of Salt-N-Pepa style of music which was very popular at the exact same time. This track adds as another showcase piece.
Dre leads us into this next track whilst sampling 'The Chronic' and it's called, 'HIGH POWERED'. Slow lead in to the next sketch but loses a little bit of flow with the changing of Side C to Side D. Not the catchiest song and another track that feels like an add on. Side C ends and it's time to flip over to Side D and hear the sounds of something that we covered our son's ears, 'THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE'. I don't know why they felt that they needed to add that one other than for a bit of fun. I like the intensity coming from the next track, 'STRANDED ON DEATH ROW'. It is definitely a highlight for LP2. They learned a lot whilst making this album and you can hear early signs or rawness, but that's what you'd expect from a debut album on a new label. Dre and Snoop would leave Death Row records a few years after this album and the label never really recovered.
I'm not sure why they released the next song and called it the outro but it actually isn't the last song. 'THE ROACH (THE CHRONIC OUTRO)' brings the smooth voice nicely out of the Marshall Woburn II speaker and acts as a album closer. Quite possibly was originally the last song or it was a mistake on the track listing. The actual last track is, 'BITCHES AIN'T SHIT'. The drumming intro sounds similar to what DJ Yella of N.W.A would lay down and sounds like a bonus track more than an album closer. The bass and beat is catchy and loud too and gives listeners a farewell to Dre as he opens on the mic. Even though this pressing has been remastered digitally, the sound of the pressing is comparable and even better than some other records coming out these days. That shows you how much of a perfectionist Dre is with the sound and the stylus lifts itself to signal the end of 'The Chronic'.
This week was a huge week and I've just recovered in time for a new week of work - energy level wise. That brings our 69th Sunday Drop to a close and there are so many more to come. I hope that you are having some fun following along and not knowing what we will spin next here at R'nR with Rylo. The MWSP will be released at 4:50PM on Wednesday across our social pages and make sure you all have a guess. If you haven't got any Dr. Dre albums in your collection, now is the time to change that. Reach out if you are doing it tough too, world is a tough place right now and you're not alone. One day soon we will have the music room and podcast back up and running. I have seen it, so it will happen.
“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch
Until our next Spin, be Kind to people who like G-Funk Music and be Kind to your Wax!
DR. DRE AND SUGE KNIGHT
DEATH ROW / INTERSCOPE
SPEED PLAYED AT
'2001' - 1999
COMPTON - 2015
NUTHIN' BUT A "G" THANG
RATING OUT OF 5
WHAT'S INSIDE THE RECORD SLEEVE
2 x BLACK LP AND ALBUM NOTES / IMAGE OF DR. DRE.
"One, two, three and to the four. Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the door. Ready to make an entrance so back on up, 'Cause you know we're 'bout to rip shit up" ~ Nuthin' But A "G" Thang - Side B
LP / SIDE
THE CHRONIC (INTRO)
FUCK WIT DRE DAY (AND EVERYBODY'S CELEBRATIN')
LET ME RIDE
THE DAY THE NIGGAZ TOOK OVER
LP 1 / SIDE B
NUTHIN' BUT A "G" THANG'
LIL' GHETTO BOY
LP 2 / SIDE C
A NIGGA WITTA GUN
THE $20 SACK PYRAMID
LP 2 / SIDE D
THE DOCTOR'S OFFICE
STRANDED ON DEATH ROW
THE ROACH (THE CHRONIC OUTRO)
BITCHES AIN'T SHIT
Snoop Dogg and Dr Dre mixing the album