Dr. Dre's first album in 16 years, Compton: A Soundtrack, dropped on Thursday night. It's a towering piece of work with spots from Ice Cube, Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, Xzibit, Eminem, Jill Scott, Marsha Ambrosius, King Mez, Justus and more. It might also be Dre's last record.
Here's Fuse host Esteban Serrano's take on Compton.
1: Back to the block
People nowadays talk about how they appreciate that you can’t tell where an artist is from because the music has become universal. I disagree. I like that this album sounds like COMPTON. It's what the game has been missing. Everyone’s accents are blending. The swing of the West Coast, the 808s of the South, the boom bap of the East all provided such dope signatures and identities. This album screams West Coast.
2: The legends converse with the kids
Dre also mixed the OGs like himself, Snoop, Cube, Xzibit in with the next generation—Kendrick, King Mez, etc. The OGs speak from a very senior standpoint, talking about their current lifestyles and reminding listeners of their legacies, while the newer artists come off hungry and determined to prove themselves. They sound “active,” to use an L.A. gang term.
3: About that subtitle...
This sounds like a MOVIE. The intro, skits, the stories, the voices, even down to how the songs trail off at the end with ambient, environmental sounds all give it such a visual feel. The way the vocals are produced it’s almost like the artists are voice actors on a looping stage voicing over scenes from a hood film.
I thought it was somehow connected to the Straight Outta Compton movie, but this is its own movie. I think, while on set, Dr. Dre was transported back to the mindset he was in when making N.W.A. music in the '80s and '90s, then applied it to the present.
4: Haven't signed up for Apple Music?
I just bought it. $ goes to Compton kids' basketball team or something.
[Ed. note: All the proceeds from Compton: A Soundtrack will "help fund a new performing arts and entertainment facility in Compton," Rolling Stone wrote. ""I've been really trying to do something special for Compton and just couldn't quite figure out what it was," Dre said on Beats 1. "[Compton mayor Aja Brown] actually had this idea and she was already in the process of working on it. I said, 'Boom, this is what we should do.'"]
5: N.W.A. lives on
At the core, the music is the same as N.W.A’s signature brand. It’s still political. It’s still aggressive. It’s still expressive. It still has that fantasy/imaginary violence. But it’s produced with all the knowledge and skill Dre acquired over the three decades he’s been working. This time around, he didn’t produce these ideas into songs—he scored these scenes into song.