Dr Dre's Compton: What You Need To Know
It's been a busy few months for Andre Young – better known, of course, as Dr. Dre. He's cashed in on the sale of Beats, the headphone manufacturers and streaming service, to Apple for an eye-watering $3 Billion and today (August 21st) will also see the release of Straight Outta Compton (which you can preview and purchase on the right-hand side of the page), the biopic charting the tumultuous rise of his rap group N.W.A.
As if that wasn't enough to keep anyone busy, he's also just dropped a brand new album, his first since 1999 and, if the producer is to be believed, his final release. Here's everything you need to know about Compton...
A little background...
In the 16 years since Dre released 2001, his last full-length LP, the rapper and producer has started his own label, Aftermath, and helped launch the career of one of hip-hop's biggest selling stars in Eminem, but over that time he also spent close to a decade working on an album. That album was to be called Detox and, after several years of work, Dre decided it wasn't up to his extremely high standards and scrapped the record, starting all over again. We'll never know how good or bad Detox was, but its replacement, Compton, has made quite an impact and has reportedly been streamed over 25 million times since it first premiered on the streaming service he used to own. Now it's getting a physical release too, and it arrives in stores this week.
Any special guests?
Quite a few, as you'd expect from most hip-hop albums these days, but what's interesting about Compton is the choice of guests Dre has assembled for his new record. There are some familiar faces – Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Xzibit, The Game and ex-N.W.A. bandmate Ice Cube all put in appearances – but as far as new faces go the guest list is far from obvious. The exception to the rule here is Kendrick Lamar, a fellow Compton resident and currently one of rap's hottest properties, but elsewhere the guests on Compton are less well-known, with King Mez, Anderson .Paak, Justus and Marsha Ambrosius all featuring on the record.
What does it sound like?
It's unmistakably Dre, but it's a lot more experimental than you might expect and there's a restlessness to Compton that suggests that Dre has no intention of playing it safe here. Particular highlights include 'One Shot, One Kill', which sees Snoop delivering one of his best verses for years, and 'Animals', co-produced with Gang Starr legend DJ Premier, a banger of a track that has more in common with the hip-hop coming out of New York than it does with the West Coast sound you'd normally associate with Dre.
Kendrick Lamar adds his trademark, liquid-like flow to 'Deep Water', another standout, while 'Loose Cannons' is another banger that sees Xzibit in fine form. Eminem also adds his usual controversial input to 'Medicine Man', perhaps the album's only real weak spot, but elsewhere the standard on offer here staggeringly high.
Does it deliver?
With so many classic albums in the bag already, both with N.W.A. and as a solo artist – not to mention the extremely long gap between this and his last album – you could be forgiven for thinking that Dre's best days are long gone, but Compton will prove you wrong. Dropped with almost no warning, Dre's new album has taken many by surprise and it's not just good – this might already be the hip-hop album of the year.