Seasoned fans know better by now than to get too excited when material that’s destined to appear on Dr. Dre’s Detox leaks. No matter how dope a track may sound, there’s no guarantee that it’ll really end up on the good doctor’s infinitely delayed album. Indeed, the very fact that you’re hearing a Detox demo may make it less likely that that song will ever see the light of day: Rumor has it Dre has scrapped months of studio work in frustration at seeing snippets leak to the public in unfinished form. So take all that as a word of caution before listening to “Topless,” the totally awesome alleged Detox demo featuring T.I. and Nas that leaked yesterday. (Check it out below; some NSFW language.)
Here’s one glaring hint that “Topless” is an incomplete demo: Dr. Dre doesn’t actually rap on it. Instead, the song opens with T.I. delivering a sick verse that’s evidently meant to come out of Dre’s mouth. (“Look, Eazy, ain’t a damn thing changed, I promise/Still live like we did back on Straight Outta Compton…”) It’s widely known that Dr. Dre gets the best lyricists in the game to draft verses for him — check how he flowed exactly like Eminem on “Forgot About Dre,” or like credited cowriter Jay-Z on “Still D.R.E.” How cool is it to hear T.I. demonstrating his ghostwriting contribution first-hand? Nas’ guest verse, on the other hand, seems intended to be rapped by Nas as-is, and it’s another winner, packed with the kind of intricate imagery that only God’s Son can pull off.
And the beat? Well, it’s one of the best things Dre’s done in years, all dusty piano keys and boom-bap drums. Those sounds have more in common with the golden age of New York hip-hop than with the glossy synth melodrama of most post-2001 Dre productions — a welcome evolution for an NY head like yours truly. But like I said, I’m going to cut myself off before I get too psyched about this track, only to be disappointed when a completed version never materializes. How about you?
More on Dr. Dre:
The Chronic is one of EW’s New Music Classics
“California Love” is one of EW’s Top 25 Summer Songs
Snap Judgment: Listening to music Dr. Dre’s way
Detox was one of EW’s most anticipated albums…in 2002