On this day, December 15, in hip-hop history…
1992: Dr. Dre reached a pinnacle last year when his debut album The Chronic turned 20. Quite frankly, it doesn’t matter if it’s an even or odd number, Dre changed the face of hip-hop with his classic.
In June 1992, Dre left his N.W.A. cohorts after disputes with Ice Cube and Eazy-E and signed to Death Row Records, which was a relatively new label in the industry. His first release as a signee was The Chronic that brought hardcore hip-hop and a distinctive West Coast sound to the forefront. The album is highly considered as a revolutionary project for gangster rap because it made the style acceptable in the mainstream. Surrounded himself with the best rising talents, the album gathered Kurupt, Daz, the Lady of Rage, Nate Dogg and Snoop Dogg to help make it a fixture in neighborhoods everywhere.
Some of the album’s records stand the test of time. There is the stunning single “Nothing But A G’ Thang”, as well as fan favorites like “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat” and “Let Me Ride.” These tracks ushered in the brand of G-Funk that consisted of heavy synths and mellow grooves to ride out to. Other notable tracks are “The Day The Niggaz Took Over” and “Little Ghetto Boy,” which contained voices and sound effects from the L.A. Riots. Even with some of the album’s pop sensibilities, Dre brought elements of Public Enemy’s politically-charged lyrics to his music and created a middle ground. But the album was also filled with unapologetic raps towards women (“Bitches Ain’t Shit,” “The Doctor’s Office”) and violence that rubbed a few people the wrong way.
Dre has grown more into a hip-hop entrepreneur than a producer/MC. Since releasing The Chronic, he founded Aftermath Records that was instrumental for the career of Eminem. He’s also molded superstars such as 50 Cent, Game and now Kendrick Lamar. While 2001 took over seven years to release and it seems unlikely that Detox will come out, Dre’s methodical recording process is his calling card. There’s always a chance Dre will finally feel it’s on par to The Chronic and drop Detox, creating another moment that’ll change the landscape of hip-hop. Until then, rap fans are crossing their fingers.