Either this has been the most random year for Rap music in a long time, or it’s been the most strategically planned out year for Rap music in a long time. Either way, I’m grateful for the amount of music that has come by in these 8 months of this calendar year, where it seems as though everyone, their mamas, mama’s mamas, and babymama’s mamas have come out of the woodwork to release new albums. For examples: Big Sean, A$AP Rocky, J. Cole (technically the ass-end of 2014, but it’ll still count), Vince Staples, Meek Mill, and Compton’s own Kendrick Lamar, have made significant contributions to this year’s catalog of great Rap music to surface thus far. Kendrick Lamar’s release is one of the most critically acclaimed to come out since, well, his first release in 2012 with good kid, m.A.A.d city. The connection here is that he is yet another protégé of Dr. Dre’s, and many of them have gone on to have pretty successful careers (Snoop Dogg, Eminem, 50 Cent, and The Game being included in that conversation).
Be that as it may, there were still questions as to if the infamous Detox would ever come about to grace the Rap game over the 10+ years of waiting since 2001, the classic follow up to the Genesis of the Trilogy, The Chronic. It’s ironic that more and more Detox talk came about after the emergence of Kendrick’s presence (funny enough that he has a song called Look Out For Detox), but the thing was, would we actually hear it? That was the main question until 2 weeks before the release of the Straight Outta Compton movie, Dr. Dre announced on his Beats1 radio show (The Pharmacy) that he was inspired by the movie to make an album, and that Detox wouldn’t see the light of day because he didn’t like it (which speaks volumes). The announcement of Compton seemed too good to be true, but then there was a preorder link, then there was an album cover, then a tracklist, and then an album stream. So it’s a real thing. In 2015, Dr. Dre released a rap album. Yes, this really is happening as I live and breathe in this current moment. It’s a lot to take in right now, so let us just appreciate what is at hand. While Compton, since the beginning of my life, has always been linked to being the ‘heart’ of gang culture (including violence) and almost all things negative, the music representation has always been one that’s been consistent in its hard-hitting messaging, especially as of recent with the likes of Kendrick Lamar & YG who brought about different perspectives whereas one is more conscious (GKMC, TPAB) and the other more street (My Krazy Life). But their paths start with Dr. Dre & the influence of NWA that have trickled down into the next generation of rap. North America has (slowly) progressed into being more accepting of Rap, so the treatment that NWA received, cats today don’t have anything close to being called threats to society (unless of course, you’re Chief Keef). Compton’s image has changed not only because of the music, but the athletes that have come out of that area to do well and be model citizens for the youth in that city (Richard Sherman, DeMar DeRozan, Arron Afflalo). As a new generation comes in full swing and are old enough to comprehend their surroundings that they’ve been seeing & hearing through the music of the founding fathers, it makes perfect sense for Dr. Dre to release a soundtrack dedicated to the city of Compton (keep it rockin’). In order to really grasp a real understanding of this album, I went back and listened to the Dre albums released in 1992 & 1999 respectively. There were different styles and influences that fit into the time periods in which they were released, so it would only make sense that Compton would provide the same type of deal 16 years later.
The important thing that the prior albums brought to the table, was that Dre focused the features on those who were upcoming or labelmates. He didn’t have a lot of outside forces coming in, and that’s what made the projects so organic. During the time off between albums, he’s picked up a lot of talent and thus much of that would be put on display, just by looking at the tracklist. I was most excited for 3 new Kendrick Lamar verses, because why not? He’s a name that more and more people look forward to hearing more from, because he did take a damn near 3 year hiatus from making new music, so we’ll take all we can get, and he’s been on a tear. Jon Connor is an Aftermath signee which I first heard of after a BET Cypher in 2013. Hailing from Michigan (home state of Eminem), there’s not a lot known about him (well, to me at least), but this album surely would grant listeners the opportunity for us to hear what obviously Dre heard which led to him taking Jon under his wing. There’s a lot to digest, so without further adieu, let’s take a stroll in the City of Compton.
As the Intro begins the album in cinematic fashion, the detailed news report goes into the history of the city of Compton as it started out as a pretty industrial city (which at one point was mainly inhabited by a majority of White people, believe it or not), but in the Post-War era, many Blacks from the South & Midwest moved out West for more opportunity. It was looked at as the promise land for many Blacks until things took a turn for the worse, which thus turned into a ghetto, and we all know the story of what happened afterwards with regards to the movies & music that drove home the narratives.
“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 inner city.”
From a city of promise to a city of desperation to get better where it seems impossible to establish a positive culture, it sets off an undertone that emulates the cliché ‘started from the bottom,’ to the point of success that Dr. Dre has achieved. All from the humble beginnings of Compton.
Through listening to Chronic & 2001, the one thing that is consistent throughout both is seamless transitions. Rather it be through skits, or elements embedded within the tracks to carry over to the next songs, they’re always smooth. This would remain to be a staple in Dre’s repertoire as the build up from the intro to Talk About It was dynamic, as King Mez (hailing from North Carolina) started off the rap festivities on one of the most anticipated albums in recent memory. From the first lines, he set the standard for the energy that would be held on for the track itself (he had 2 verses).
“I don’t give one fuck, off the top I wish a nigga would try a nigga
Real shit, y’all counterfeit, y’all niggas bad business
That’s why the game all fucked up”
They say that the game done changed, because the intent on what rappers want have changed, and the substance has seemingly dwindled because of that. Speaking of ‘counterfeit,’ it’s funny that the premise of the Meek Mill/Drake ‘beef’ has been because of accusations of ghostwriters. Dr. Dre is known to have ghostwriters, and it’s evident because of the younger talent that he has surrounding him. It would be no escaping the fact that Kendrick Lamar assisted Dre a lot in the writing process, whether the credentials say it or not. It’s just a fact (go back to GKMC and listen to Compton & The Recipe for examples). That doesn’t mean that Dre didn’t lace his delivery of the verse however. For the younger crowd who only knows the Dr. Dre that makes headphones, and not the one that was an original member of NWA, he provides the history lesson that turns into stunting as he mentions that he made millions before the headphones and also having royalties throughout Eminem’s career that he has yet to cash in (1 percent problems). Much is made of the older rap heads who still think that they have a shot in a young man’s league, but Dre still flexes his muscles to show that he has staying power in Rap. The same argument was made when Jay-Z released Magna Carta Holy Grail, which wasn’t his best work, but still showed that he could do his bit to run with the young boys, although he didn’t have the same ferocity as his younger self. I feel as though Dre’s going to go all out, being that this is his grand finale. This is a good start.
Going through the tracklist, there’s also a lot of appearances from Marsha Ambrosius (one half of R&B duo, Floetry), which would add a form of soul on whatever she touches, but she’s been collaborating with rappers for a while now, so she would naturally fit in with what would be going on. Besides her presence on Genesis, this song was the first of 3 Kendrick Lamar features, which I know a lot of people were excited about, because of Dre’s absence of production on GKMC. It was a matter of finally hearing Kendrick Lamar over Dr. Dre beats, and also because new Kendrick Lamar anything has crept into being an event over the past couple of years on his rise to superstardom. The background of the song goes back to the root of what Compton is notorious for – violence. Genocide being one of the worst types of mass murders, but instead of killing people, the emphasis is killing in the rap game, which Dre feels he hasn’t been impressed by over his absence. I can’t blame him; it did go into some dark days, but brighter ones have looked promising, given the quality of this year alone.
“Reload the protools and we throw the clip in both trays
That’s one on the left and one in the right hand, Scottie Pippen both ways
Been doin’ drive-bys, got this music industry timelined
Lookin’ like Rosecrans when these niggas throw up them signs high
I’m talkin’ about that bottom where it’s high crimes”
Shout out to my boy Feln (he likely won’t be reading this), because he made an observation that felt was worthy of mentioning. Because Dre is in his older years, and will likely spend much of the album highlighting his success and disdain over what’s happened to rap, it may translate to him being that ‘Get off my lawn’ old man who’s mad at the younger cats. That’s not a farfetched theory, because that’s what usually happens, and in the past 2 tracks alone, there is evidence of that. That may or may not turn some people off from the lyrical side of what Dre’s presenting, but what can be appreciated is the fact that Dre is at least lyrical on the album itself to this point, where it’s not just him behind the boards fuelling the soundtrack – he’s making sure his voice is supporting the narration. Kendrick Lamar needs no more introduction, but of the rapper that he’s blown up to be in a matter of the 4 years since I started listening to him, it’s been crazy. Needless to say, he’s one of the more important MCs and writers to come out, and hopefully he has a long tenure because he’s definitely a voice that has touched a generation without having much presence on a Billboard chart. Needless to say, his verse sparks that intensive aggression of the CPT that was introduced on m.A.A.d city and the delivery had an older Eminem influence to it, mixed in with some DMX (the initial inspiration for his pursuit as a rapper).
“Live in a project building, dodgin’ the module ceilings
I ride, I’mma ride in a stolen Jeep
Ride with the eyes of five blind men, my vision (Corrupted)
Mama tried counselin’, five plans for Kendrick (But fuck it)
My family’s ties, had sabotaged Rosecrans existence (abducted)
My aliens on surveillance, they paid me a visit (Disgusting)”
Kendrick has an uncanny ability to describe a situation, scenario, or surrounding to draw you in, and he doesn’t fail to do so on this verse, that I felt the need to run back a couple of times (it’s the fan in me, sue me). Being that he’s a perennial voice of the modern day CPT, it doesn’t surprise me that he’ll go hard with every opportunity presented on this album. It’s an exciting to look forward to as the album proceeds to give you what you need.
I’m not sure who Justus is, but his contributions on the album thus far have been impressive on the hooks, and there it is again with Dre having his ear for talent and letting it shine where it matters most. That’s one thing that I have respected about Dr. Dre over the years. It’s All On Me slows down the tempo a little bit as Dr. Dre gets to venting on a personal level, and who better to have on a track to add emotional emphasis than none other than BJ The Chicago Kid? Being that he’s been a long time TDE collaborator (and west coast in general), he has a unique voice that many have found appreciation for over the past couple of years, and although it’s just on the one song, I’m glad that he was thrown in there anyways. Shows that he is valued in today’s minimal roster of men in R&B. As predicted, the reflection of the coming up from NWA to being one of the most powerful figures in music is something that many people have only heard in interviews or read in personal pieces, but never actually on wax through the words of the Doc. And since so much time has passed between projects, it’d be interesting to many older rap fans to get that older perspective to come from him at this time.
“That’s just the way it is, and how it always was
DJing parties in my neighborhood just for the love
Dope dealers overtipping and bitches stripping
And any minute niggas’ll start tripping and start shooting shit
On any given day I’m like “what the fuck?”
Face down on the pavement with the billy clubs
Took that feeling to the studio and cued it up
And now it’s “Fuck the Police” all up in the club”
It’s cliché that the rags to riches story gets told on so many levels, but with someone as important as Dre, there’s added emphasis as to why people care much to hear about what he has to say, given that he’s been involved in rap for 30 years. It’s safe to say that he’s seen a lot in his day. So to take in all of what’s been lived & witnessed, for it to ‘fall back’ on him, it’s a nice moment to sit back and acknowledge. The beat is relaxed with a soulful sample in the background, so it takes you back a bit.
One thing that many (many) people have continually said about Dr. Dre throughout his 30 years being in the game is that he’s a relentless worker. I remember watching Kendrick Lamar interviews just after GKMC released, and the constant was that Dre would lock himself in the studio and just work all the time. For someone who’s practically worth a billion dollars, one would think that he’d take it easy, but that’s not something that he’s been thinking about, because he’s so used to pumping out a lot of work for so many other people, outside of the business that he generates for himself. It’s All in a Day’s Work, as the first appearance of Anderson .Paak shows up. The first time I heard Anderson was when I was listening to a Flying Lotus mix from BBC1 (The Residency), and the final song, entitled Suede, hit me hard because the beat was just ridiculous (produced by Knxwledge). I had it on repeat for a while, and the old school style sound of Anderson drew me in, but I didn’t do much investigation of his music after that (that’s going to change). He hails from the West as well (there’s something in that Pacific water, I’m telling you) and with 6 appearances on the album, that’s pretty much a big deal. Clearly for those who slept on him (yes I’m pointing at myself), this is a wake up call. The introduction of this song has Jimmy Iovine speaking about fear and working harder than the next man to get to where you want to be so that no one can claim that they’ve outworked you. That’s a constant thing that I’ve observed when successful people speak. They work harder than everyone else and that’s why they are in positions that they put themselves in. The hardest thing is that when you work that hard, all you know is hard work, and even when you have everything, you still want to work. It’s a finicky situation.
“It’s the worst when I’m in a hotel, like a Hilton sick and tired
Some of these housewives way too fuckin’ desperate
These bitches thinkin’ fame first
I can’t knock the hustle, shit it’s all in a day’s work
But that’s that shit with potential to make the game worse
Shit it’s just somethin’ about that Hollywood curse
They just thirst”
The internet age that we live in, we see a lot of people just rushing for fame rather than dedicating themselves to working hard to get what they want. Reality TV, Instagram, Vine, etc. There are many outlets that point out that you don’t necessarily have to work ‘hard’ to get on and have fame. People want the limelight, and that has even translated into the Rap game. Many people just want to get in and sell records, but not having any significant substance to contribute to the game, which is where you see evidence of Dre’s frustration. I can’t fault him for it. All work and no play make people go crazy, and those in that position understand that it takes a lot of sacrifice to make something out of yourself, so this proves as a motivational song more than just Dre venting. It easier to be lazy and watch the world pass you by, but then that lack of satisfaction does nothing. Get back to work.
My favourite transition of this album comes at the last minute of ‘All in a Day’s Work’ with the drumsticks going about on the cymbal and then the thunderous bass that starts up Darkside/Gone. I’m probably the only one who had to run that back a few times because it was so unexpected and the instant face scrunching couldn’t be ignored for that sole purpose. I love that the momentum carried through but to go from something more chilled to a thunderous beat that had King Mez remind me of Kurupt on the adlibbing intro. Much like ‘Talk About It,’ Mez holds his own and sets the tone as it’s more so of the thuggish, ruggish material that insinuates that gritty street crime culture that bred Dre into the game.
“If you die tonight, you die tonight
Momma might cry tonight if she find you high off the dynamite
But to you it’s just another Friday night
Got a nigga for the car tonight
With the bible right beside that pile of white
That’s what this life is like”
I liked the Smokey/Friday reference that he had in there, that was nice, but the highlight of Darkside came right at the end of Dre’s verse that has him shout out the late Eazy E (one of the original NWA members), and his vocals appear as it transitions to ‘Gone,’ which I felt was smooth and the beat for Gone had that laid back vibe that felt fitting for transitioning to ‘the other side.’ Now, it has been well documented about the feud that Dre & Eazy had (if you’re too young, or not familiar with the beef, Google is your friend). Dre definitely made it known that despite all of the dispute, he still missed him and that was a nice way to honour his legacy, even if it was just one line.
“Eazy I’m still wit’chu
Fuck the beef, nigga I miss you
And that’s just being real wit’chu” – What’s The Difference (2001)
‘Gone’ would present the 2nd verse of 3 from Kendrick Lamar, and the first of which popped up on social media to be a shot at Drake. If you don’t know where this stems from, a lot of it can be traced back to Control when Kendrick called out names to challenge them (thanks for that), and most people took it as a diss (in my best Charlie Murphy voice, ‘WRONG’). But then when you go to the BET Hip Hop cypher verse that caused even more controversy, that too sparked a Drake/Kendrick debate
“You know I’m a killer, I’m on your head, you know I’m a killer
The West Coast Cosa Nostra under oath ’til it’s over
You over owe us, so what the fuck?” – BET TDE Cypher (2013)
And then you had Drake’s response to ‘Control’ itself:
“I know good and well that Kendrick’s not murdering me, at all, in any platform. So when that day presents itself, I guess we can revisit the topic.” – Billboard interview (2013)
The main reason why any of this is even in discussion is because since that time, there have been little jabs from Drake subliminally (which is what he does best during rap confrontations), so Kendrick took to taking a line from Drake’s Energy to flip the script and point the metaphorical cannon back in his direction.
“You scared of my heights now
But still I got enemies giving me energy, I don’t wanna fight now
Subliminally sent to me all of this hate, I thought I was holding the mic down”
This is a beef that many people want to see happen, because a lot of people may not think that Drake will respond to Kendrick at all. Personally, I don’t think it’ll happen, because Kendrick is very crafty with his pen and has more lyrical prowess that Drake can’t match. That’s looking at their different styles, but when it comes down to who can spew bars, you just have to look at who would have the advantage. It’s subjective, but that’s my stance on it. Kendrick also addressed the negative attention that FOX News analyst Geraldo Rivera brought to light because of the anti-police charged BET Awards performance of Alright, in which Geraldo obviously misinterpreted in thinking that it’s a call to shoot police officers. That wouldn’t make a lot of sense given the fact that the State of California designated Kendrick as a Generational Icon, so who’s really the confused one here?
The blaring horns that introduced Loose Cannons were crazy, and really there’s nothing negative to be said about the production at the midway point of the album because as the beat really kicks in and when Cold187um aka Big Hutch of Above The Law starts off, it gets aggressive by nature and it has a rock & roll sound to it. Xzibit is known to a good part of Millennials as the host of MTV’s Pimp My Ride, and having guest spots here and there on The Boondocks, but he really was one of the better rappers to come out of Cali, and was even featured on 2001 (What’s The Difference being one of them). It was great that Dre brought on some of the older cats to contribute, to add balance to old & new in terms of artists from the West. X’s part really brought about another level of intensity as the beat changed and it continued to pick up as Cold went crazy and that whole interaction with the woman at the end was scary to say the least, no word of a lie. Not Eminem ‘Kim’ levels, but it was pretty intense. Violence towards women is never condoned, but it’s commonly displayed and depicted as it’s an ongoing thing in society in general, but in the inner-city neighbourhoods where it’s more commonplace, as much as it’s disturbing to hear in that context, it’s not far from the truth. As the skit continues into digging the hole, for some reason it reminded me of the scene in Goodfellas when Tommy shot Spider and the conversation between Tommy & Jimmy was pretty much along the same lines of what was being said at the end of this track when it came to digging the whole. I give it a gold star for creativity. This has been a well thought out project thus far, and well executed.
Issues brings about another Rap legend that I was happy to hear, and that is Ice Cube. The NWA presence is still alive and well with him, despite him being a face in movies for over 20 years, with the more recent 10 years involving himself in movies rather than music. That lyrical bully that was first introduced to the world as “a muthafucka named Ice Cube” will forever be a ‘nigga with attitude,’ even with a changed up flow.
“Fuckboys should tighten up a whole lot
I got some niggas with me down for runnin’ up in your spot
And these niggas got hatchets and ratchets
Some of them lethals up under the mattress”
I think it warms the hearts of rap fans to once again hear Cube & Dre together on a track, even if it is for nostalgic purposes. There haven’t been any collaborations (that I know of) since the NWA days, so this is a moment of appreciation that I think is good for Hip Hop, and tying the past with the present together for lessons that can be taught in the near & distant future about the importance of these two MCs within their respective careers.
The outro serves as the set up for Deep Water, which actually triggered one of my fears – drowning. Well, it’s not a real fear, since I haven’t had a near death experience in water, and I don’t stay at pools or beaches often (or at all), but death by drowning is not something I’d want for myself. The sound of the individual gasping for air & shrieking for help as the track starts up is nuts; the second uncomfortable moment of this album, in my eyes, but also this is one of my favourite songs as well. The Pacific Ocean is pretty massive, in case you didn’t pay attention in Geography class. Given that Los Angeles is a coastal city, there are many entities that can be your demise because of that large body of water. What is also true is that metaphorically, the rap game can be looked at as an ocean and many rappers are Sharks (which Ghostface & Raekwon explained over 20 years ago on OB4CL). People who get in too deep (you see what I did) with what goes on with Dre’s life are “bound to drizzown,” and on this particular song, the beat with Dre’s flow just worked well with each other because there were so many elements in the production that gave it life.
Then, right on cue, Kendrick Lamar fires away on his 3rd and final verse of the album with a couple more not-so-subliminal shots targeted towards that ‘singing nigga’ from Canada. This is my favourite verse of the three, and again – that Eminem influence was very evident, especially towards the end of it.
“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, nigga this is life in my aquarium”
It should also be noted that the top half of his verse was performed at the BET awards during ‘Alright,’ which is why I knew I recognized most of it when I first heard it, but in the context of the delivery, it was a lot better overall. Also, the fact that he opened the verse with “muthafucka know I started from the bottom” doesn’t fare well to shake the narrative that Kendrick isn’t throwing shots Drake’s way enticing him for a response. It’s fun to hear at least someone isn’t afraid to dish out at him (looking at you, Meek Mill). I think it’s fun that Kendrick is baiting him in like a shark, swimming in circles before he strikes. He’s testing him to see if he’ll take it. Only time will tell as to if it’ll actually happen.
The victim who is fighting through drowning, washes ashore on One Shot, One Kill, and welcomes the first feature of Snoop Dogg on this album, which really ties together the legendary duo of Snoop & Dre (although Dre doesn’t rap on this one, for once). It’s funny to have seen the personality transition of Snoop Dogg from when he first came out as Snoop Doggy Dogg, up until his last failed attempt to be a reggae star with Snoop Lion. As aggressive as he came out on this track, gave me the thought that he was back in the 90s on a Murder Was The Case vibe, and it was greatly appreciated. It was definitely a different Snoop that most have heard in a long time, but if you’re a student of the game, you know this is a possibility from Snoop. He’s a legend, and he made it clear to ‘let it be known’ once again.
“Who hold the crown, it ain’t no conversation
I’m being modest should be silent ‘less you payin’ homage
Remain the hottest, niggas can’t stop us, that’s just being honest
And makin’ hits, I never had problems much in that department
Don’t get me started, don’t compare me to the newest, nigga
For everyone of you, there’s a hundred more and I watch them come and go
My track record ain’t coincidental
And these verses is like hearses consistently killin’ all with instrumentals”
Jon Conner is looking to be another artist (like Kendrick) to carry the legacy of Aftermath records into the next decade or so, and given his rap ability, I’m sure there’s a good possibility that he’ll be able to do that. This exposure will certainly help generate some new ears, or get people to at least revisit him & take him seriously. He did his thing carrying the hook & and verse on this track that proved to be in the lane that his music will likely speak to, moving forward.
The Game is a polarizing artist because where there was a lot of promise with The Documentary and the G-UNOT era (300 bars & Runnin being my favourite of the bunch), there was everything in the Post-Doctor’s Advocate era that made you scratch your head. He didn’t exactly pan out to be the artist we all expected him to be, which is why he isn’t exactly regarded as one of the best in a lot of conversations, but that doesn’t mean that he can’t throw down here or there. Just Another Day proved to show off Game in a positive light like the rapper I listened to in high school.
“No chains, no reins, this my home
Nigga this hub city, no fly zone
Niggas pull out burners
Start breaking like turbo on ozone
Crack fiends on the back streets
Where the tracks lean and the needles lay
And switchblades, if you bitch made”
For a certain generation, The Game was the initial ambassador to Compton, so there is still a level of respect for the artist of who he was because he still embodies the soul of that neighbourhood, which is very descriptive in these couple of bars. It makes you never want to visit the area (obviously it’s not a tourist attraction) but then again it’s fascinating that there’s so much pride and love for the city that groomed these artists that they carry with that’s evident in their careers. The Game has been hyping up the sequel of The Documentary for a while, but if it sounds anything like what he spewed out on this track, it could be some of his best work in a decade. I’m crossing my fingers.
I believe it was the O’Jays that said For The Love of Money, people will steal from their mother & rob their own brother, and in the music industry, that’s not far off from the truth because people will do whatever to earn some bread (and fame on the side). In this case, it’s not the O’Jays, but Bone Thugs who are sampled on Dr. Dre’s take of the long lasting phrase that people will do just about anything for a dollar. The connection here may not mean much, but Eazy E did once sign Bone Thugs N Harmony to Ruthless Records, and since Dre & Eazy have a connection, it just goes to show you that the degrees of separation in rap is a lot closer than a lot of people think. Dre, Anderson .Paak & Jon Connor give their views on how money affects various aspects in their personal lives with regards to people in the hood, people in the industry, and people in relationships. Money is the root of all evil (as Jill Scott sings on the hook) and really is a determining factor on how people react to various things. It’s also the be all and end all for a lot of people, because without money, they feel as though they can’t properly function, and that’s where a lot of unfortunate circumstances arise.
Where money is the root of various problems, Satisfiction is a word (made up, obviously) that goes to suggest that people are comfortable living in circumstances that aren’t exactly real or self-fulfilling. It’s weird because if I didn’t know the title was ‘Satisfiction’, I would have thought that it was “saddest fiction” because that’s exactly what it sounds like.
“Yeah, I mean, I listen to these rap records
Half the time I’m suspicious
You niggas sound so fictitious
Believe me I know the difference
I got some words for you niggas
You’re the definition of satisfiction”
This has really been an ongoing topic for many rappers lately, calling out those who are just looking the part, but not living it. I don’t mind it at all, because there are frauds out there who just want to be in the light without having the authenticity to back up their claims, but then again, we live in a time where the audience doesn’t really care to question, they just want the music. They get it for free anyways, so why bother complaining? That’s just the way of the world now. It’s odd, but that’s why so many fraudulent personalities come about and taint the luster of rap. I like how Dre, Mez, and Snoop seemed as though they were all talking to each other on this track comparing their equal hate of the fake ones trying to act like they deserve their shine when it’s looking really funny in the light.
“I know you think you’re a star cause followers clickin’
Guess your ambition is to keep up with social tradition
Like sneaker shoppin’ some of you niggas are fuckin’ sickenin’
Cause you’ll take your soul out, just so you can fit in”
One of the greatest sentence I’ve read since having a Twitter account was “followers are not fans,” and I see the realities of that every single day. When you have over a million followers but you only sell 50,000 copies of an album over a month’s time, it really goes to show you that followers don’t mean much at all, because those same followers who will listen to your new single, that doesn’t translate to showing up at your shows or buying your CDs. It’s the way of the world, but so many people have bought into their own hype of followers on Twitter and Likes on Facebook, that they believe that they’re hot shit, when in actuality, it’s not that deep like the waters from a few tracks prior. You’re in the shallow end with a floaty over your chest – it’s light. This is also one of my favourite songs, because it’s the one that has the most West Coast laid-back vibe on the album, to me. I feel like I can do a gangsta walk or wicked two-step in the same breath. The defining lines of the song come towards the end by the Doc.
“My life is all authentic, that’s why I’m goin’ way up
Your satisfaction is fictitious, your happiness is made up”
The reason why Kendrick, J. Cole & Drake are three of the biggest Rap artists out today is because of their authentic personalities. People look at them for being relatable and speaking to the millennials who have shared experiences, which is why they’re the more popular ones (although one has more hit singles than 2, they all can sell records). Being yourself is (I hope) starting to become more commonplace rather than hoping on a persona that’s put together because it’s what other people want. I mean, there are still going to be those characters who just want to glamourize a situation, but they won’t have staying power. The jig will be irrefutably clear.
The story behind Animals is a good one, because before Dre got a hold of it, it was supposed to be a song to come out after the Baltimore riots, strictly as an Anderson .Paak song produced by DJ Premier. The legendary East Coast producer teaming up with Dr. Dre is a rap fanboy’s dream that will cause many palpitations of the heart. Well it definitely happened, and the timing of the song in general, couldn’t have been more perfect. It’s been one year since the tragic, brutal, and unquestionable murder of Mike Brown by Darren Wilson, and since then, there’s just been a ridiculous trend of ongoing names turned to hashtags because of police violence throughout the United States, and even in my own backyard of Canada (RIP Andrew Loku & Jermaine Carby). The movement, Black Lives Matter, is a rallying cry that police brutality and brutality on Black bodies (straight, transsexual, homosexual, etc.) has no place and because proper justice isn’t being served, Black people are day after day tired of waking up to seeing that another Black child, man or woman dying at the hands of authority (or terrorism, call it what you will).
“Bullets still ringing, blood on the cement
Black folks grieving, headlines reading
Tryna pay it no mind, you just living your life
Everyone is a witness, everyone got opinions
Got a son of my own, look him right in his eyes
I ain’t living in fear, but I’m holding him tight”
“Please don’t come around these parts
And tell me that we all a bunch of animals
The only time they wanna turn the cameras on
Is when we’re fuckin’ shit up, come on”
This is the perfect song to respond to the ongoing critics of just why so many people are protesting and dedicating their lives to the fair and equal treatment of just being human. I know this is off topic, but honestly, white people, what did a Black person do in their life other than being Black that gives them less of an opportunity to live than a white person who likely has ancestry that traces back to a family member that forcibly removed Africans from their homes and forced them to build a country you were too lazy to build for yourself, and then have the irrational fear of those same people who just want to have equal treatment? That’s the most backwards thing I’ve ever heard in my life, yet here we are in 2015, damn near 400 years since the first slaves set foot in North America, and it’s as though nothing progressed, through the treatment of Black people everywhere. This is why so many people fight, and as long as police brutality and systemic racism is in place, the fight will continue. Music will just serve as the soundtracks to the rallying cries, and this is just another one to add to the playlist.
“And the old folks tell me it’s been going on since back in the day
But that don’t make it okay
And the white folks tell me all the looting and the shooting’s insane
But you don’t know our pain”
It’s great that Dre took the opportunity to take advantage of addressing what’s been going on, because obviously it’s not exactly avoidable. It’s just that a lot of people just want to tweet about it and not put it into records, because “it’s not their place.” If you’re Black, it’s definitely your place, so you either choose to be part of the problem or the solution – anything helps, really. It’s a matter of giving a voice to those who can’t. For the Trayvons, Mike Browns, Sandra Blands, and Ezell Fords. Them. It’s also great that two legendary producers (and DJs) of their stature come together to make a song like this, and Anderson .Paak continuing to make a great (what will be for some) first impression that will generate in many fans forthcoming. It’s a fantastic song through and through.
In the penultimate track of this masterful album, Medicine Man presents the doctor’s prescription on what’s happening in life. The rap game seems to be on a lifeline, the fashion trends are horrendous, social matters are crumbling the foundation of society, what is a Dr. to do in these matters? Well, have your best patient feature on a track and rip everything to shreds. I think this was one of the most anticipated songs on the album, because in the revamped Shady world, he hasn’t been his ‘best’ per say, but we all know his ability to deliver on the microphone. I personally didn’t know what to expect, because Eminem can run with so many different styles that it could be trash or it could be great, we could only listen to tell.
Everything was great, and there was even a questionable line involving the word ‘rape’ that would have a lot of people brush it off just because ‘that’s Eminem, and he’s been saying wild shit for years.’ That doesn’t necessarily make it okay, and although the word wasn’t clear to hear (it was definitely muted), the fact was that it still ended up being said. It didn’t bother me, but having a conversation with a friend who is a woman (who happens to rap) who had an incident with an attack, it changes things. Many people like to dismiss the opinions of women because Rap is historically a male environment, which means a lot of testosterone, which also means that it shouldn’t matter what ‘they’ say, but when you look at historically who buys more records, it’s women. Women listen and enjoy rap music probably not as much as men, but I know a lot of women who listen to rap and can spew out facts better than most guys because most of the women I know understand where the Men coming from with the shared Black experience. However, when it comes to certain words, yes we live in a time where everything seems to be hypersensitive and you have to be aware over every other word or sentence said without feeling like you’re offending a group of people, but that’s how the world works.
When looking up the lyrics of Eminem’s verse, he was (in a fiery delivery) pushing back on the critics who (many Black) thought that he didn’t have a place in Hip Hop and the only reason why he received so much hate is because he became more popular than most (all) Black rappers, despite his lyrical content being more harsh than most or just stupid. He’s been battling with this since after his first album, and he casually threw out that line out there because he knew he would get a reaction out of it (my friend -> me asking her how it affects her -> us talking about it -> me writing it now). So on one hand you could say “well he was just saying it to prove a point” and other the other hand it’s “well he didn’t have to say it to begin with” or “he could have worded it another way.” And given that he’s a dedicated father to his daughter and has raised girls over the past 20-or-less years, I wouldn’t think (out of common sense) that he would condone rape, but I do agree with my friend that it wasn’t needed to be put on record. Besides that one anecdote, I did enjoy the song itself. Obviously, I have different views being a man, but I do look at things from both sides.
Talking To My Diary comes to be the final song on this album, and really it’s the culmination of what’s been a long (long) time coming. I think for Dre to wait it out this long and come up with a completely different album (whatever you want to believe), this point of reflecting over 30 years of work is something that Dre is marveling at, as the metaphorical sun sets on this project (not exactly his career). From being a starving artist so that one day he would be able to provide for his family, from the trials and tribulations of being on one of the most notorious (and one time most hated) rap groups ever, and reminiscing about those good times, you realize that as much as this is an album that may have a lot of features showcasing the younger cats, this album is for him. There are a lot of things that he’s seen in the 30 years being involved, and clearly you can tell that there’s not a lot that has impressed him, but when you’ve essentially been through everything, you have the right to vent and air out your displeasures (with the help of some old & new friends). I liked that he took the time out to shout out the old NWA guys in that little reflective moment. It shows that he’s really come a long way since, and is grateful for those humble beginnings, and as is the rest of the rap game whom have benefitted from Mr. Andre Young.
To say that I like this album wouldn’t do much for an opinion. For one, I’m happy that this album even came to being because being that the wait for Detox was more than half of my lifetime of being on Earth, the fact that another Dr. Dre album (the last one) surfaced in my adulthood that I get to write about the experience, it’s special to not only myself, but for Hip Hop in general. I will say that I didn’t expect Dr. Dre to sound as current with the production and rhymes, but being that Dre isn’t known as being a great rapper, that wasn’t the main focus. I think that’s where too many people were focusing on, and for that reason, I don’t understand why; it’s not 1992 or 1999 anymore, get over it. The production was incredible from start to finish, and that’s the primary focus of what Dre would bring to the table in general. Yes, there were many other co-producers in the process, but the final touches are all him, and he really knocked it out of the park on this one. The features did not lack in bringing their A game, because I’m sure all those who were involved on the last Dre album said to themselves “I’m not going to fuck this up” and quite frankly, I didn’t hear any. You got the raw street poetics, the hood politics, and the social consciousness. From the Doctor’s advocates of past and present (oddly, 50 Cent not being in the picture) playing their roles in shaping the sound of the infamous streets of Compton, it gave the people that call it home something to be proud of. For such a small city within the Los Angeles region, Compton has definitely had its bright spots in music when you look at the representatives of the area. It’ll always have its issues, but I know there’s a mindset that sees change on the horizon. Whether or not Compton will have the lasting impact of its predecessors, only time will tell, but for an immediate impact, it has surely done its part. But for now, this is my opinion, this is my review
That’s My Word & It STiXX