Whatever happened to Dr. Dre's concept album about planets?
When Dr. Dre’s Compton: A Soundtrack hits Apple Music this week, it will be the conclusion of a long and meandering saga. For 16 years, fans have waited for a new Dre album, and spent the better part of two decades struggling to find clues about new music. Almost every new piece of info contrasted with the last. First there was Detox, due out in 2003. Then the date changed to 2010. Then the title changed. Then Dre took a break from music. Then there was Beats by Dre and … anyway.
But one of the most interesting blips in this timeline actually comes from a 2010 interview with Vibe, where Dre said one reason for the delay of Detox was a time conflict with another project he was working on – a concept album about planets.
The reporter, Jerry Barrow, asked Dre if he would ever release an instrumental album. Dre laughed and then gave an incredible answer.
“Oh yeah, that’s in the works. An instrumental album is something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time,” he told Vibe. “I have the ideas for it. I want to call it The Planets. I don’t even know if I should be saying this, but f— it. [Laughs.] It’s just my interpretation of what each planet sounds like. I’m gonna go off on that. Just all instrumental. I’ve been studying the planets and learning the personalities of each planet. I’ve been doing this for about two years now just in my spare time so to speak. I wanna do it in surround sound. It’ll have to be in surround sound for Saturn to work.”
Dre has never said anything else about this in subsequent interviews, and a rep for Dre did not respond to inquiries about the project’s status.
Even so, the possibility of a Dre album about the solar system is so mind-blowing that it still lingers. Was the grandmaster of gangsta rap just trolling all of us, or did he really want to embark on a spacey, Afrofuturist adventure? Hip-hop has seen such outlandish creativity before – rapper MF Doom dresses like the Fantastic Four villain Dr. Doom and Flying Lotus made a concept album last year about the afterlife. But the fascinating part would be seeing if Dre could adapt his famously hard-charging beats to the movements of celestial bodies.
After so many long years, the search for Detox is finally over. Now the wait for The Planets begins.