Fresh off of his remarkable success with N.W.A., Dr. Dre decided to go his own route and form the famous Death Row Records. Of course, we all know the most influential album to ever come out of that record label: The Chronic.
Released in December of 1992 off the strength of its hit single "Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang," The Chronic became an immediate triumph. By November of '93, it was already certified platinum four times, with all three of its singles flying up the charts on Billboard. Dr. Dre's debut solo project also massively helped in giving birth to a new style of hip-hop: west coast G-funk.
The Chronic was the first of a wave of hit records to drop out west during the early-to-mid 90s, with Dre heavily influencing the soon-to-be successful careers of Snoop Dogg, Kurupt and Daz Dillinger (who came to be known as Tha Dogg Pound), Warren G, 2Pac and the like.
Of course, Dr. Dre didn't just stop there. He would later discover rappers such as Eminem and 50 Cent and would eventually play a significant role in the career of Xzibit.
Plain and simply, it seemed that everything Andre Young touched turned to gold back in the day, and even though he is far past his prime at the current point in time, his legacy lives on forever.
That being said, if you're still waiting for Detox, then I've got an island to sell you, and it probably won't be ready for another 10-15 years (at least).
Anyway, The Chronic is considered a staple in hip-hop history and a must for every rap fan's collection. Is it as good as everyone says it is?
1. The Chronic (Intro)
Well, there's that.
2. Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')
The first actual song on The Chronic is a banger, introducing you to what west coast hip-hop would song like for the next several years (well, the next several years after '92, anyway). Snoop Dogg guests here, and get used to it: you're going to see an awful lot of him on this album. This track works in every way possible.
3. Let Me Ride
Some people say this is one of the best beats ever made. While I won't go that far, it's definitely really good, epitomizing one of those types of records that you blast with the windows down in the summertime. The trademark west coast synthesizer on the hook does get a bit irritating, though.
4. The Day The Niggaz Took Over
This actually doesn't sound like much of a west coast track at all. Dr. Dre's instrumental sounds like something that a producer from Diggin' In The Crates would have laced. Once you hear Snoop Dogg, though, you'll quickly remember that "The Day The Niggaz Took Over" is, indeed, an L.A. cut through and through. Oh, how good is the song, you ask? It's definitely nothing special, especially with the constant background skits interrupting the instrumental throughout.
5. Nuthin' But a "G" Thang
Okay, seriously, who doesn't love this song? That is all.
6. Deeez Nuuuts
Dre's beat on this bangs, and despite the fact that the title of the record is absolutely awful and that the lyrics are pretty freaking bad, "Deeez Nuuuts" works, thanks in part--actually, thanks only--to the instrumental and the overall mood of the track. Nate Dogg's crooning adds a cool element, as well.
7. Lil' Ghetto Boy
This cut is the most serious in tone on The Chronic, from Dre's production right down to Snoop's lyrics. Sadly enough, the sternness of "Lil' Ghetto Boy" renders it somewhat boring.
8. A Nigga Witta Gun
This is the only song on the entire album where Dr. Dre is all by his lonesome, and while you would think that could potentially be a terrible thing given Dre's lack of prowess on the mic, this actually wasn't bad. The beat is fairly engaging, and Dre sounds fine enough on his own. Still, once you reach the record's conclusion, you'll realize that "A Nigga Witta Gun" is pretty repetitive.
The Chronic sounds re-energized here, as Dre's aggressive production on "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat" is pretty solid, and the hook is damn catchy. As I'm sure you're beginning to denote, the content on this album is very uniform throughout. Not that that's a bad thing, though.
10. The $20 Sack Pyramid
You know what I hate? Skits. You know what I hate even more? Skits that run nearly three minutes long.
11. Lyrical Gangbang
The fact that Kurupt absolutely tears this track a new one aside, Dre's instrumental wasn't all that impressive here. Dre doesn't rap on this cut, either. Not that some (okay; most) of you will be disappointed about that.
12. High Powered
I've always said that I really hate it when artists waste hot beats on skits, and that is essentially what happens on "High Powered." Dr. Dre's production is fire, but it takes one minute and 15 seconds for the song to actually start, and by "song," I mean one terrible verse by RBX. Oh well.
13. The Doctor's Office
14. Stranded On Death Row
Now this is sick. Kurupt, RBX, Lady of Rage and Snoop Dogg all rip what is an outstanding beat by Dre, with Kurupt working away with top honors. Easily one of the best songs on The Chronic.
15. The Roach (The Chronic Outro)
Four minutes and 36 seconds of a glorified skit? The hell is this Dre? I also fail to understand why the "outro" comes before "Bitches Ain't Shit," but hey; it's not my album.
16. Bitches Ain't Shit
That brings us to one of the most--if not the most--misogynistic songs in what is generally a misogynistic genre of music to begin with, so that's saying a lot. While Dre's instrumental is really freaking good, I just can't bring myself to like this track because of the lyrics. Sorry.
Crucify me for this if you want, but I think The Chronic is an overrated album. That's not to say it isn't good, because the best songs on here are really freaking incredible, but as far as ranking it in best-of-all-time discussions, it doesn't hold a candle to the Illmatics of the world.
Maybe it's because I'm not the biggest fan of G-funk, but as a whole, The Chronic just doesn't hold up all that well for me, and a lot of that has to do with the fact that, outside of a couple of verses by Kurupt, no one on this project is coming through with any sort of groundbreaking lyricism.
Dr. Dre is certainly a musical genius and a tremendous businessman, and I can definitely see why The Chronic is so beloved in most hip-hop circles. However, to me, some of the beats felt like they were missing certain elements. Again, some of the instrumentals were awesome, but in the end, I was left feeling a bit underwhelmed.
To me, Dre did a much better job on Snoop Dogg's debut solo LP, Doggystyle, an album which I will get to promptly. The instrumentals on that project felt much more complete and much more well-rounded.
To conclude, I will say that The Chronic, even though I wasn't that crazy about it, was certainly one of the most influential pieces of work in hip-hop history. It served as the impetus to a period of west coast dominance, and let's face it: without Dre, there is no Snoop (not the Snoop we came to know, anyway) and probably no Kurupt/Dogg Pound. Plus, Dre played a significant role in the release of 2Pac's most popular album, All Eyez On Me.
So, while The Chronic may not have been what many drum it up to be musically, its impact on rap cannot be denied. That's for damn sure.
1. Nuthin' But a "G" Thang
2. Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')
3. Stranded On Death Row
4. Deeez Nuuuts
5. Let Me Ride