As former N.W.A member Dr. Dre raps on Dr. Dre 2001, the long-delayed follow-up to his 1992 masterwork, ”The Chronic,” ”Ain’t too much changed” since the days in 1988 when N.W.A’s ”F— tha Police” was one of the defining rap songs of the moment. The gangsta style that Dre pioneered is still going great guns.
As might be inferred from titles like ”Bitch Niggas” and ”Let’s Get High,” Dre has forsworn his attempt to clean up his act (cf. his 1996 single ”Been There Done That”), and his sex, drugs, and Uzi fixations are firmly back in place. Anyone who assumed that the uncharacteristically sparse sound of Dre’s recent production effort, Eminem’s ”The Slim Shady LP,” bespoke a diminution of talent will find the symphonic sweep of ”2001” reassuring.
Chilly keyboard motifs gliding across gut-punching bass lines, strings and synths swooping in and out of the mix, naggingly familiar guitar licks providing visceral punctuation — it’s Dre’s patented G-funk, as addictive as it was back when over 3 million record buyers got hooked on ”The Chronic” and Snoop Dogg’s Dre-produced ”Doggystyle.”
Ol’ faithful Snoop is on board, as is Dre’s new main man, Eminem. Of course, ”2001” is filthy, filled with sexist skits, simulated orgies, and much phallic boasting — none of which should diminish Dre’s achievement. If any rap producer deserves the title ”composer,” it’s he.
One gets the feeling he wanted to reestablish his mastery of the form, to show the current crop of youngbloods (Juvenile and Young Bleed) how it’s done. ”Give me one more platinum plaque and f— rap — you can have it all back,” Dre spits at one point. If this is truly, as he has implied, Dre’s last will and testament as a solo artist, it’s a hell of a way to go out.