DAR Classic Hip Hop: Dr. Dre's The Chronic

By @CherchezLaPorsh  

1. The Chronic (Intro)
2. Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin)
3. Let Me Ride 
4. The Day The Niggaz Took Over 
5. Nuthin' But A G Thang 
6. Deeez Nuuuts 
7. Lil Ghetto Boy 
8. A Nigga Witta Gun
9. Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat 
10. The $20 Sack Pyramid (Skit)
11. Lyrical Gangbang 
12. High Powered 
13. The Doctor’s Office (Skit)
14. Stranded on Death Row 
15. The Roach (Outro)
16. Bitches Ain't Shit

Let’s take it back to 1989 for just a second. For those of us who know our hip-hop history, it was the most eventful year for N.W.A and the West Coast. They had successfully introduced gangster rap to the west coast and were still running off the momentum of “Straight Outta Compton” which had been released the year before. The group seemed to be in their prime, but it was also the year Ice Cube decided to part ways and pursue a solo career. This would start a messy domino effect of disputes, issues and lawsuits. By 1991, the (original) N.W.A we had known was about to disband, but not before they released “Efil4zaggin” which could (arguably) be the group’s best work and would be regarded as Dr. Dre’s best production work.

Once Dre left N.W.A in ’91, the West Coast changed entirely. Dre and a few others formed Death Row Records and signed so much talent that it was impossible to ignore their impact and influence. The first release coming out of Death Row would be from Dr. Dre himself. In 1992, the hip hop world would see the debut album titled the “The Chronic”. This would be the most important album to be released in hip hop at the time for a few reasons. Not only is the album self produced (with Suge as an executive producer), but the beats and sounds he uses were truly groundbreaking. Dre is a pioneer of G-Funk and with heavy use of his own created beats and some sampling, it makes the album like none other. “The Chronic” features Snoop Dogg so heavily that it is truly to thank for kickstarting his career and debut along with follow up albums.  And lastly, “The Chronic” took every relevant subject matter  that was being highlighted at the time and delivered it raw. The controversial nature of this album was apparent, some believed it to be misogynistic, sexist, and violent with abrasive subject matter, but not without leaving an imprint that would remain unequaled.

Today we get to look at the album that would be regarded as a timeless classic from a West Coast legend. The album that is to thank for refining and advancing the G-Funk sub genre and for giving so many other talented artists the catalyst they needed. Let’s get into the tracks that make up Dr. Dre’s classic album “The Chronic”.

First off, the album art and title are brilliant. Since Dre was the embodiment of California at the time, his ode to the zig zag and high grade weed is very well executed, so much so that this became one of the most iconic album covers of the decade. Not to mention how it alludes to the laid-back atmosphere we will get from track to track. This is one album you can judge by the cover and be assured you won’t be disappointed.

Dre kills two birds with one stone with this intro. It’s our first exposure to Snoop, Death Row, and his phlegmatic approach to his previous group members. On the production side there are a handful of samples, but of course Dre intertwines that synthesizer to bring the familiar and signature “funk” which is expected. On the lyrical side, there are several sting worthy bars, mostly rapped by Snoop but Dre adds his own touch as well. Take a look at these:

“Whattup Ren/
Yeah, droppin Chronic flakes on your ass bitch/
West Coast flavor, niggas who talked shit/”

“Aww yeah, P.S.
Fuck Mr. Roarke and Tattoo, A.K.A. Jerry and Eazy/
Sincerely yours, deeez motherfuckin nuuutz/
I don't love Eazy/
I don't love Jerry/
I don't love Ruthless Records/
Frankly, I don't love nothin they got to do with”

“Yeah nigga, you'se a penguin lookin motherfucker”

He wastes no time and holds nothing back. In just two minutes, we hear the uncensored, carefree lyrics and those smooth laid back beats.

That momentum built from the intro we just heard is followed up in the second track “Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody Is Celebratin)” feat Snoop Dogg and RBX who is a cousin to Snoop and Daz and we get some background vocals from Jewell, all of which were signed to Death Row in ’92. In my opinion, this is the signature track of this album for one simple reason: It is the ultimate diss track towards Eazy-E, Fuck Compton’s Tim Dog and 2 Live Crew’s Luke and a sneak diss towards Cube. No one was safe and Dre does this with so much poise. The production is brilliant with minimal samples but smooth steady soulful beats, and it distracts you from the nature of the track and quickly became a recognizable “Dre style beat”. Everything works perfectly with both Dre’s flow and delivery as well as Snoop's. Lyrically, I love it!  As much as it saddens me that the falling out between Dre and Eazy was so bad, it really was the platform to address it and these three MC’s truly delivered. Some will call it immature, but it made for great material not only from Dre, but the clap back tracks as well. Not to mention I love the way Dre raps as his voice and intonations are so dope, but this is where we hear that abrasive violent natured lyrics he got critiqued for.

“Used to be my homie, used to be my ace/
Now I wanna slap the taste/
Out yo mouth, nigga bow down to the row/
Fucking me, now I'm fuckin you hoe/”

“But fuck your mama, I'm talkin about you and me/
Toe to toe, Tim M-U-T/
Your bark was loud, but your bite wasn't vicious/
And them rhymes you were kicking were quite bootylicious/”

Snoop & Dre:
“If it ain't another ho that I gots ta fuck with/
Gap teeth in ya mouth so my dick's gots to fit/
With my nuts on you tonsils/
While you on stage rapping at your wack-ass concerts/”

“Now you might not understand me/
Cause I'ma rob you in Compton and blast you in Miami/
Then we gon creep to South Central/
On a Street Knowledge mission, as I steps in the temple/”

Eazy, Tim, Luke and Cube….no one was spared here. These guys painted graphic visuals and got their point across.

Since the disses are out of the way, let's get to the next track. “Let Me Ride” featuring Snoop and Jewell. I love this song for the Jamaican infusion and because this reminds me of California. From the opening line “Creeping down the back street on D’s” all the way through, the signature “Dre style” beat is heard and accompanied by these illustrative bars that makes this track so enjoyable. Snoop’s entrance on the refrain is incredible. His voice is so different than Dre’s and adds a whole other dimension to a song as slow moving as this. The synthesizers aren’t as prevalent here so listeners can focus on the head bopping beat and boastful lyrics. The hook is phenomenal as the singing of “Swing down, sweet chariot stop and, let me ride... with all the niggas sayin Swing down, sweet chariot stop and, let me ride” adds variation and was so nicely done we would hear it sampled in Warren G’s “Regulate…” album some years later. This is where we start to see the impact this album has/will have on future artists.

Let’s skip “The Day The Niggaz Took Over” so we can get to “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang”, which was the first single off the album and another perfect example of impact. Silkk Tha Shocker would sample this, as well as Ja Rule not to mention the thousands of references and parodies and of course the recognition in the “Rock & Roll Hall of Fame”. The amount of popularity this track alone got was incredible. The beat is perfect and Snoop’s rapping and lyrics are fun and makes you want to rap along. You can just tell they had a great time recording this. From beginning to end, it is truly a perfect track. We knew Dre was dope from his time with N.W.A, but he really outdid himself on this. I wish I could share my favorite parts but I can’t quote the entire song so I’ll spare everyone… I wish it didn’t have to end.

The next track is another one I can’t wait to talk about “Deeez Nuuuts” (interesting title to say the least) and the reason I like it so much is because it’s got everybody on it in some way and the humor is appreciated. We get Warren G, Snoop, Daz, Dre and Nate Dogg and the amount of lyrical (west coast) talent jammed into five minutes is phenomenal and makes for an overall incredible track and a lyrically raw one at that. These guys hold nothing back and it’s this song (along with a couple others) that had people calling the album “misogynistic”. Of course, the production is at the same caliber. The snippet from the 1975 movie “Dolemite” was another great choice by Dre and reiterated the entire theme of the song. It is “guy humor” at it’s finest and they have fun with it so it’s enjoyable for the listener as well. From Warren G’s phone conversation to the movie clip, we get an idea of what is to come. Here’s what I mean:

Why what's up?
Aye, did did what's-your-name done get at you yesterday?
Deeez nuuuts!
Aw shut up nigga”

“She said, "Well daddy if I had nuts under my chin would those be chin-nuts?"
I said, "Hell no bitch you'd have a dick in your mouth!"

I must admit, I find this hilarious, but my favorite part is “Peep out my manuscript/ You'll see that it's a must I drop gangsta shit” as we would hear Snoop rap this on “Doggystyle” and of course right after, we hear Nate Dogg’s melodious vocals. He would also become a west coast favorite and such a fantastic addition to this track. For those who love to hear beats, there’s a break in vocals and for about a minute and half we hear nothing but Dre’s flawless production. This song is really a great addition to the album and another highlight.

I’m going to skip about three tracks and one skit so we can get to “Lyrical Gangbang”. While this isn’t the best song on the album and one of the only songs that Dre has very minimal additions lyrically, it’s worth a mention for two reasons:

1. Kurupt
2. Lady Of Rage (of course we have Snoop and RBX as well)

This might be considered one of the best posse cuts out of the West Coast at the time. Dre uses a snippet from Cypress Hill as well as Led Zepplin and Nite Liters on the production, which only enhances the “hardcore” delivery we get from Lady Of Rage and Kurupt. I know some may think the bars aren’t that great, but I think all the MC’s killed it on here and gave us a very impressive track although I do miss Dre’s involvement here.

I won’t spend too much time on “High Powered” or “The Doctor’s Office (skit)”, but the skit is extremely explicit and (probably) the primary reason critics say this album is a bit “too much” at times. Could we have done without it? Sure but it follows exactly the persona Dre had and wanted to have. Also, I think this played a role in the explicit approach Snoop would take on his “Doggystyle” album.

The next track is “Stranded On Death Row” and another one that has no sign of Dre on the lyrical side. We do however, see Snoop, Bushwick Bill, Kurupt, Lady Of Rage and RBX so I know it’s going to have a similar “feel” to the posse cut we heard a couple tracks ago, but this one is much more intense. The imagery is darker and much more violent than anything we’ve heard and of course Dre’s use of beat samples enhances that perfectly. I also like how it’s set in prison, the references to “cell blocks” is clever and works with the theme. Here’s what I mean:

Bushwick Bill:
“Because I wanna talk about the hearts of men/
Who knows what evil lurks within them/”

“I'm Stranded on Death Row for pumpin slugs in motherfuckers/
Now you know you're outdone/
Feel the shotgun/
Kurupt inmate cell block one/”

“Step to the heat/
And get burned like mesquite/
So what you wanna do/
The narrator RBX, cell block two/”

Lady Of Rage:
“It's 187 on motherfuckers don't stop/
Handcuffed as I bust there'll be no debate/
It's Rage, from cell block eight/”

“That's the only way we'll beat em man
We gotta smoke em/
Then choke em…/
…It's like three and to the two
And two and to the one/
Cell block four peace Doggy Dogg's done/”

As we approach the end, we get to “The Roach (Chronic Outro)” which is incredibly clever. Obviously it’s alluding to the whole “rolled weed” theme of the album and is such a dope way to end out the tracklist, with a roach much like a smoking session!! I love everything about the track title and love how it ties everything back together.
We are also left with the bonus track “Bitches Ain’t Shit” which is the epitome of chauvinistic and quite offensive but it’s yet another diss track for Eazy and manager Jerry Heller, so there should be no surprise here. He refers to them as “she” and “bitch” which of course might be offensive, but considering the fallout with Ruthless Records and the newly formed Death Row, they had to put themselves “on the map” somehow and this track really helped with that. As much as I hate that Eazy and all of N.W.A were “dragged” in this album, diss tracks is one of my favorite elements of hip hop specifically during the “Golden Era” so I appreciate this. Like I said earlier, it really did make for good material from everyone.
And there it is, Dr. Dre’s “The Chronic” album. The most important debut of the 90’s and one that demanded a higher level of lyricism from all West Coast MC’s. The emergence of Death Row introduced fans to so many talented artists that would use so much of Dr. Dre’s style, beats and samples in their own projects. Fans knew how great Dre was from his N.W.A days, but this truly displayed his talent as a solo artist/producer even with the featured MC’s. It is undeniable that “The Chronic” is a hip hop classic and Dre will forever be one of the greatest additions to hip hop.



Popular Posts