Dr. Dre schools freshman rappers in his latest album Compton. Stacked with a variety of talented features, each track is as enjoyable as the one before it. Dre’s production alone is untouchable, incorporating different jazz, hip hop and neosoul styles including acid jazz, smooth jazz and fusion.
Proving to be more than a producer, rapper, and record label owner, Dr. Dre acts as a philosopher in Compton, addressing the root causes of fear, pain and suffering experienced by low income black communities. With help from little known artist Anderson Paak, Dre philosophizes on the human fight-or-flight reaction to fear in the brilliantly candid track “All In A Day’s Work”. Anderson Paak‘s exotic vocals are most notable in the track “Animals”, a song that serves as Dre’s commentary on the black lives matter movement. With chillingly transparent emotion, Paak’s chorus on “Animals” sings “And the old folks tell me that 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 lootin and the shootin is insane, but they don’t know our pain”. Appearing out of no where, he steals the show more than once on the album, but Anderson Paak is just one of the many upcoming artists that have made a killer debut on Compton. North Carolinian King Mez also appears out of nowhere and lends his fiery Southern drawl on a couple tracks alongside other lesser knowns artists such as Justus and international artists Marsha Ambrosius and Candice Pillay.
Kendrick, Snoop, Eminem and Ice Cube are some of the more expected features. Although their appearances are no surprise, the same can’t be said about their contributions. Kendrick ditches his pop star facade found in radio hits like “Swimming Pools” and unleashes a cold, hard Compton-esque sound that gives Dre a run for his money.
Fellow 90s G-funk moguls Xzibit and Cold187um make an appearance on the rock & roll inspired “Loose Cannons”, rapping over a dark and twisted beat riddled with AK gunshot sounds and screams. Undoubtedly the darkest record on the album, “Loose Cannon” illustrates the grim reality of how living in constant pain and fear can turn people into monsters.
Despite an ungodly amount of talent featured on his album, Dr. Dre is not overshadowed on a single track. His mastery is evident even on the featured artist’s solo tracks where Dre doesn’t contribute a word. The symphonies of hip hop sounds, drum beats and trumpet wails are produced so intelligently, there’s no denying they were orchestrated by Dr. Dre. Every track sounds amazing superficially and becomes an even better listen for those of us that like to dive below the surface of our music. Self-proclaimed doctor or not, Dre deserves the recognition of a prestigious scholar in his field for making astounding contributions to the hip hop world for 30 years and counting.