Before Biggie and Puff took a strangle hold on hip-hop in the mid 90’s, it was all about the West Coast and Death Row Records. Dr. Dre was producing G-Funk classics; Snoop Dogg was still writing his own rhymes and those of Dre; Suge Knight wasn’t getting laid out like carpet; and I was straight crushing my block with the Charles Barkley CB34 Nikes. I know that last line had nothing to do with Death Row Records, but damn if those sneakers weren’t important to the hip-hop culture. They were right up there with Jordans.

Anyway, while that may seem like an eternity ago and most of the YG’s reading this right now were in elementary school learning their multiplication tables while me and the crew were reciting “Lil’ Ghetto Boy,” it proved to be a vital era to hip-hop history. And I’m glad to see that someone out there—DJ Lil Bee to be exact—was willing to put some of Death Row’s hottest joints on a mixtape so me and the old school heads have something to listen to while playing PS3 and the younger generation can understand why we hate everything on the radio right now.

I mean you look at Nate Dogg’s vocals on “Regulate” or KC and JoJo’s chorus on “How Do U Want It” and they were killing it without any use of Auto-Tune. Just a little EQing and maybe a little reverb and you had a classic. Not to mention how dope that song made Above The Rim. Tupac did his thing in that movie, but that song was to that movie what My Heart Will Go On was to “Titanic.” And I don’t care who your favorite “gangsta” rapper today is, I can guarantee you that they don’t have one song even close to being as hard as DPG’s “Serial Killer.” All I’m saying is after that joint dropped, doctors in L.A. and NY got rich beyond their wildest dreams, b.

Even though I thoroughly enjoyed this mixtape, I have to say some pretty huge Death Row records were MIA. For example, any song off of Makaveil could’ve and should’ve been included. That album was a classic from beginning to end. But instead we have his more commercial songs like “It’s All About You,” and even though I’m not mad at “Pour Out a Little Liquor” (another Pac classic), Makaveli should’ve lived on this. Then you wonder why “Gin And Juice,” “Tha Shiznit” and “Doggy Dog World” were excluded too. Not to mention more than a few cuts off The Chronic. “Let Me Ride” and “Bitches Ain’t Shit” were top notch joints, but one or two more cuts off that timeless album could’ve replaced a few tracks.

But I’m not too mad. Lil Bee took me back with cuts like “Natural Born Killaz,” “Deep Cover,” and even Lady of Rage’s “Afro Puffs” (She wasn’t the sexiest rapper chick, but I would’ve gave up some cheese to see what kind of “puffs” she was working with). Even though there were some choice cuts that I feel are missing from this mixtape, I’m not mad at Bee’s vision of what classic West Coast hip-hop was. Right now it doesn’t matter what coast you’re from, everything on the radio is accustomed to a certain sound and artists follow that formula to get paid and the result is no one sounds original anymore. On this mixtape Lil Bee was able to capture the G-funk sound of that era in that coast and show how different it was from anything that was going on in any other region during that time. Hopefully this helps remind heads that sometimes diversity isn’t necessarily a bad thing and is sometimes necessary for a culture to survive. Namely the hip-hop culture.-The Infamous O

Hottest Joint: “Serial Killer”

Weakest Joint: “It’s All About You”