A hearty welcome back to guest reviewer Scott Spinelli, who returns for the highly anticipated second post in his series “White Suburban Kid Reviews Classic Hip-Hop Albums”. As a reminder, you can go give Scott some e-love at scott-spinelli.com. And buy his book, which I reviewed here.
Today, Scott gives his take on Dr. Dre’s 2001, which was released in 1999. Those are different numbers.
Well, Mr. Brown, I must say, I wasn’t aware you’d be influencing me, but alas… here we are. After reading your closing remarks on our last “White Suburban Review”, I’ll admit I was convinced I’d have to do my next one on the good doctor. And in so doing, I’d have to expand the “series”, if you will, to include not just the albums but the rappers behind them.
You could argue, for hours if you were so inclined and jobless, over which of Dre’s albums, The Chronic or 2001 was the better record. I’d personally vote for 2001 for a number of reasons (didn’t sound as blatantly “West Coast”, was more in my wheelhouse of youth, had more enormous singles on it), but I think that’s missing the point.
The bigger point… in fact, the one I’ve tried to make to anyone that would listen when Andre Young’s alias would come up… is that Dr. Dre could be one of the most overrated artists in the rap game.
Dr. Dre – 2001
We should have all seen this coming, honestly. The signs were everywhere on this album.
Seen what coming, you ask? Well, that Dre would basically disappear after 2001 to head back to his roots as a producer (artistically, good call) and taunt us with an album that’s never coming out (Detox) and become a peddler for overpriced, not-as-good-as-Bose headphones (financially, good call).
The truth is that Dr. Dre is an artist with a garbage flow and rhymes he doesn’t write himself. What does that leave? It leaves a guy who redefined the sound of music a few times over, brought out guys like 50 Cent and Snoop Dogg and Eminem, and produced two of the most classic albums in the genre’s history.
All of that is well and good (great, even)… but almost none of it happened in this century. Despite the title, this album came out in 1999. Eminem (who actually discovered 50 Cent) had two albums out by the time we got to the millennium. Curtis Jackson released his breakthrough album, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, almost literally 10 years ago.
Imagine if Kobe Bryant won a ring in his rookie year, then one more 7 or 8 years later and that was it. Say in those two seasons, he was the MVP and the back-up players on the team went on to become great players under his tutelage. However, that’s all he did. How would we remember his nearly 20-year career, at this point?
Anyway, rant aside, the signs were all over this album. A song called “Forgot About Dre”? That’s basically him saying, “Listen, do yourselves a favor and forget about me, because I’m not going to be doing much of anything after this, and especially after 2006″*. The arrogance doesn’t stop there. There’s the taunting “Next Episode”, when we all now know there never were plans for any further episodes. Or, how about the blatantly obvious “F*** You”? Has there ever been a clearer disregard for your fans?
What was it like when they went in to record this album, I wonder? Was this masterpiece created purposefully to piss fans off when nothing else ever came out again? I’d imagine Dre delivered a message to his team upon the recording of this album, something probably similar to this:
Hey guys, listen… I know we’re all really happy about that last album. No, not the one with the bomb blowing up on the cover. What’s that, Calvin? Very funny. Yes, the album wasn’t commercially or critically successful, so the cover was, in fact, appropriate. ANYWAY… I was referring to my first solo effort… You know, the one about my chronic back problems. For some reason, the themes we stressed… understanding the importance of proper posture, the value of stretching before athletic competition, et. al… seemed to resonate with the kids. And with that in mind, I think it’s time we get together and make another really fantastic album. I don’t want to tell anyone, but I’d like this to be my last substantive effort for a while. No, scratch that. Forever. I’ll lie and say I’ve got another project in the works, we can call it Detox, as in, getting off the pain medications for my back. But you guys and I will always know that won’t ever come out. Every few years, we can have one of you do an interview and say it’s almost ready, or that you wrote a few of the tracks. Heck, I wouldn’t even mind releasing a few fake tracks**, but that’s as far as it’ll go.
So, with that said, here’s what I want to do. I want to load this album up with other people to hide my inferior skills on the mic. I’ll create some of the best beats around, we’ll call it 2001 so that when people look back on it years later, wondering what happened to me or my career as a rapper, they’ll think the album came out two years later than it actually did.
Alright, let’s get to work. Lunch is being catered by Salad Works.
Before we depart, I’d like to bring two tracks specifically into the cross-hairs:
12. Let’s Get High (featuring Hittman, Ms. Roq, and Kurupt) – I want to say, first off, I love this song. Besides all the obvious classics on this CD, I think this is the one that gets missed most often. It’s not hard to figure out why. With a chorus of “All these n****s and all these h**s in here/Somebody here gon’ f***!”, the song jumps off to an incredibly raucous start. The doctor’s verse isn’t much cleaner:
(Editor’s note: Even asterisked out, do not read this at work.)
Yeah — I just took some Ecstasy
Ain’t no tellin what the side effects could be
All these fine b****es equal sex to me
Plus I got this bad b**** layin next to me
No doubt, sit back on the couch
Pants down, rubber on, set to turn that ass out
Laid the b**** out, then I put it in her mouth
Pulled out, nutted on a towel and passed out
Finally, Ms. Roq hops on to close the track out in what has to be her raunchiest (or, only) recorded verse. I honestly don’t want to even repeat any of it, because it’s that bad. Don’t get me wrong, I love this song and am not offended by a second of it, but I just can’t get over how over-the-top dirty this track is. It’s hard to listen to without laughing.
18. Pause 4 Porno (featuring actual pornographic actor, Jake Steed) – This one… what is there to say? It’s literally an audio track of an orgy. You get to hear the moaning, the screaming, the panting. It’s quite possibly the funniest, most awkward track on a CD in the history of recorded music. Best part about it? When you’d be listening to 2001 on shuffle in the car with some of your friends and that track would come on. Always a fun time.
So, in closing: Great album, classic tracks. My issue isn’t with Dr. Dre or what he’s done, it’s with how he’s remembered.
*Go ahead, take a look at his production history and credits. Outside of a few noteworthy (albeit slept on) tracks on Eminem’s Relapse in ’09, the most recent big single he’s been behind was “Outta Control” with 50 and Mobb Deep. That came out in 2006.
**That’s the only explanation I can come up with for the following: “Under Pressure” with Jay-Z, “Kush” with Akon and Snoop, and“I Need A Doctor” with Eminem and Skylar Grey. Straight garbage, son. And, worst off, they’re barely even his songs.
Thanks to Scott once again for imparting his wisdom upon this here blog. I actually do like “I Need A Doctor”, but mainly because of the Skylar Grey hook. It’s almost an insult to the other two artists on the track to call it a Dr. Dre song, though.
Remember to submit your guest reviews, review ideas and other assorted nonsense to firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments below.
Oh, and one final programming note: I’ll be featured tomorrow reviewing my Top 10 Albums of 2012 for my good friend Dan Kaplan’s blog, ListPlanet. Check those shenanigans out tomorrow, and check out his blog today.