Hasty Generalization: Dr. Dre – Compton

Dr. Dre - ComptonI’ve spent about half of my life waiting for Dr. Dre’s final album, Detox. Along the way, battered by numerous setbacks and teases, I gave up hope. It was becoming foolish to believe that Detox was still coming, especially given Dre’s preoccupation with his protegés and business deals. It became clear that, while hip-hop was still somewhat a passion for Dre, his solo career was not the desired vehicle for exploring it. In fact, solo work has never seemed to be Dre’s focus. Even his own rare albums were always used more as launching pads for other artists rather than for Dre himself. Given this lowered (to below sea-level) expectation for new music, I welcomed Dre’s new focus on the NWA biopic, Straight Outta Compton. Since no music was coming, at least I could console myself with the story of Dre’s legendary group, rather than constantly read news about his overpriced Beats headphones or the Beats deal with Apple. But Dre totally surprised me with the release of the album, Compton, which was inspired by the making of the movie. I was weary about new Dre music after such a long hiatus from solo music, but I went in with as open  a mind as possible…

And not even that was enough.

I don’t want to waste words on something so distasteful, so let’s get right to it. Compton sounds like a middle-aged man trying to make music about the ghetto that he grew up in but moved away from, and lost touch with, decades ago. It’s noisy seemingly for the sake of being noisy, as if Dre only remembers the pandemonium of the hood, and thought he’d recreate it by using manic beats and yelled ad-libs that assault the ears and only add annoyance and bedlam to each song. If this album is what being in Compton feels like, then thank you for the warning, I’ll be sure to never visit the place.

Confused might be the best word to describe this stinker of an album. There are so many different featured artists that it never takes its own shape, with many tracks featuring three voices other than Dre’s. And where, on Chronic and 2001, Dre achieved a unifying sound that the guest rappers fit perfectly into, this album has too many styles mashed together to come close to that cohesion.

Oh, and to round out the wackness, pretty much every lyric and hook on Compton either bored me or made me actively angry. Kendrick appears a few times and, of course, kills, as does Jon Connor. But they aren’t enough to make any of these songs worth my effort. Meanwhile, the rest of Dre’s old and new protegés universally waste time with their verses. I’m most disappointed with Ice Cube’s verse on Issues:

And matter of fact this is a chance to show my lifestyle out to the masses
But chances are I might get another negative reaction
Think I’m a fraction, but I fucks ’em up like battery acid
I gives a fuck what you think, nigga? This is my passion

Think I’m quiet cause I’m actin’, but my bank account gon’ say “Fuck you!”
Respected from SoCal out to the Bay
Cashed a lot of checks this mornin’, guess today was a good day

Those punchlines, trading on his name and legend rather than succeeding at all at being clever, are worse than Keith Murray’s in that horrible battle with Fredro Starr.  Stop lying Cube, rhyming stopped being your passion a long time ago.

Last I heard, Compton is well on it’s way to going gold, and critics pretty much loved it. So I must be the severely minority opinion, but this album does nothing but annoy me. I’m not surprised that 50 years old and mega-rich Dr. Dre could make such a lackluster album about his hometown, but I’m surprised that it saw daylight instead of sitting forever next to Detox scraps. Compton won’t ruin Dre’s legacy, but it is a terrible and tragic way to end his solo career.


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