Dr. Dre: A Sampler of his Impact and One Undelivered Album

"And don't worry 'bout that Detox album
it's coming, we gon' make Dre do it."- Eminem on Encore (2006)

Detox is on its way. A familiar refrain fans of Dr. Dre have been hearing for years and here we are, in the year 2016, still waiting.

At this point in the game, is it safe to say we may never get this album? Yes, according to this interview with Dr. Dre. Does Dre owe fans the album after years of promises? For all that he has done for music, it is entirely possible that Dr. Dre's career as a solo artist releasing full-length albums might be over.

Growing up in a predominately white community, my extent of rap knowledge in my early music listening years was limited to the Beastie Boys and Vanilla Ice. Two extremes in the rap game, yes, but I was 11 years old. Who I was to know that Vanilla Ice wasn't even close to what true rap music represented? I mean, this guy could bring it, right? He could play that funky music and knew what it was like having a Roni.

Looking back, my foray into the love of rap music changed my freshman year of high school, at least according to my back log of memories of life. It was before a basketball game, sitting in the stands at Elko Junior High (our team's home away from home until our gym was finished being built), in which I was introduced to the world of gangsta rap. I was handed a Walkman (remember those?) and told to listen. Reluctantly, I placed the headphones over my ears and pressed play. The song that blared forth: Gin and Juice by Snoop Dogg. Thus, my first introduction to the world of Death Row Records.

Lacking MTV--save for road trips or visits to a friend's house-- I knew little of this Snoop Dogg fella. What I heard, though, I instantly enjoyed. The discovery of gangsta rap in my life led me to Dr. Dre and what turned into a lifetime love of his sick beats (Taylor Swift hasn't trademarked that term, has she? Am I still safe to use it?)

Dr. Dre has been in the rap game for 30 years and I can safely say I've been a fan for twenty plus years. I initially missed out on those glorious World Class Wreckin' Cru and N.W.A. years, but more than made up for it later in life. He continues to be relevant, whether it is producing music, movies, or simply creating headphones for all to enjoy. And that's why, whether he gets around to finally delivering the long promised follow up to his album 2001 or not, Dr. Dre will always be on my top-five list of greatest rappers of all time.

image courtesy of youtube.com

N.W.A. is the group in which Dr. Dre burst onto the scene.  Along with stalwarts Eazy-E and Ice Cube, the group received national attention for rapping about what was truly happening on the streets of inner-city Los Angeles and for their feelings on police. 

The music of the group and the movie Straight Outta Compton can sum it up much better than I can so I will leave it at that. The group was recently inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, an honor well deserved.

Dr. Dre's first solo album, The Chronic, was actually the first rap album I owned (not counting Vanilla Ice), despite hearing of him after my discovery of Snoop Dogg. Though it came out in 1992, I probably didn't purchase the CD until 1995 or 1996. (I know it wasn't until then because my first CD was the Spin Doctors, a gift given to me sometime around my Confirmation. And that was in early '95.)

Scratched and all, I still own that CD. His songs from that album get regular play on my iPod. In what turned out to be a foreshadowing of his career, it would be another seven years before Dr. Dre's next solo album dropped on the world. First, though, would be his falling out with Death Row Records and the launch of his own record label.

"If Cali blew up, I'd be in the Aftermath." Dr. Dre on Big Ego's

Dr. Dre presents the Aftermath was his first album in the post-Death Row Records era on his newly launched Aftermath Records. He contributed one song to the album, Been there Done that, but for the most part stuck to producing the album while lending his name to a few other songs. Though the album achieved platinum status, it had mixed reviews from critics and fans alike. 

The year before, Dr. Dre contributed to the Friday soundtrack with his hit Keep Their Heads Ringin' and he helped with Tupac's California Love, but for the most part Dre was sticking to the producing aspect of music, while also on the lookout for the young rappers that would carry his label into the next century.

In late 1999, fans of Dr. Dre finally got what they'd been hoping for: a true follow up to The Chronic. And, speaking here for all fans, we weren't let down. I'm pretty sure the 2001 stayed in my car's stereo for at least a year straight, still making appearances in the car 17 years later. Critically speaking, with the help of his old friend Snoop Dogg and new protege Eminem, the album was top notch, providing fans with an album that has nary a bad song. 

And then...

Promises of a new album. Nurturing the career of Eminem and helping to turn him into one of the greatest selling rappers of all time. Dr. Dre continues to produce music, among other things, and helped bring Kendrick Lamar onto the scene. He helped launch the careers of artists such as Warren G, Xzibit, and The Game. The Detox continued to be teased to fans, reaching a swell with the 2011 release of this video:

And yet...

Still nothing. Some have gone as far to say that the Straight Outta Compton soundtrack was essentially Dre giving us the Detox album we were all clamoring for. 

Dr. Dre's fingerprints are all over the rap scene, though many of the artists he helped inspire over the years are starting to slow down. Eminem proved with the Marshall Mathers LP2 that he still has something left in him. Jay-Z appears to be in semi-retirement, though an album is apparently in the works. And Kanye West is all over the place. And many of his proteges disappeared from the scene after their first commercially released album.

Much of the genre as lost it's edge over the years. It has become more mainstream, in turn delivering more of a pop style sound and lyrics that leave little to the imagination or failure to remark on society (see: Drake). It is a good thing Kendrick Lamar is around to carry Dre's torch.

His music, and rap music in general, has helped get me through times in my life when I'm feeling down. There's something about the beats, the lyrics, the flow and the rhythm that can help snap me out of a funk. It can also help pump me up before a show--or sports, in high school-- and helps me to think critically of lives that have been lived differently than mine. Dr. Dre and his music helped bring social issues to the forefront of society.

Will we ever see the Detox album? No one knows for sure, but I take you back to 1999 and these lyrics from Forgot about Dre to let you be the judge:

"This is the millennium of Aftermath
it ain't gonna be nothing after that
So give me one more platinum plaque
and fuck rap you can have it back."


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