The story of hip hop turns another page, with the long awaited release of a new album from Dr. Dre.
A week ahead of the theatrical release of the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton, Dr. Dre has released Compton, a soundtrack to the film that also includes music inspired by the real life story of Dr. Dre and a few of the other big players in the Los Angeles rap scene. It's Dre's first album in over 15 years. Leading up to Compton, Dre debunked the rumors of the Detox album, saying that project was abandoned.
While the album isn't likely to have as many hits and party anthems as Dr. Dre's first two solo albums, The Chronic and 2001, it's much more socially conscious. Now 50 years old, Dr. Dre has come full circle and returned to his roots. The problems of urban life for African Americans was the central theme in N.W.A's work. As issues like police brutality and racial profiling have come back to the forefront of the news in the past couple years, this movie and this album are being delivered at the perfect time.
Dr. Dre has been known as one of the most skillful producers in hip hop, taking '70s funk to the next level with hard hitting beats and crafting his own completely unique sounds. Dre's aggressive nature is on full display on Compton. This album sounds rougher than Dre's previous solo albums, and the rough sound fits the overall themes in the lyrics: hard work, sacrifice, perseverance, and the ugly side of the urban landscape. As hip hop has evolved over the last 10 years, grinding percussion and menacing beats have become the standard, and Dre incorporates those modern sounds with dense lyricism on this album for better or for worse.
In addition to well known stars who have collaborated with Dr. Dre extensively in the past, like Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Xzibit, The Game, and Ice Cube, there are a lot of other featured artists on Compton. Jill Scott, Marsha Ambrosius (of Floetry), and BJ the Chicago Kid are three of the more well known artists making their first appearance on a Dre album. NPR Music has a nice feature on a few of the young up-and-coming talents on the album: Anderson . Paak, King Mez, Jon Connor, Justus, Candice Pillay, and Asia Bryant.
On Beats 1 Radio with Zane Lowe, Dre shared how the album will benefit the city of Compton:
I reached out to the Compton mayor’s office, got in touch with the mayor, Aja Brown, and I’ve decided to donate all of my artist royalties from the sale of this album to help fund a new performing arts and entertainment facility for the kids in Compton... I’ve been really trying to do something special for Compton and just couldn’t quite figure out what it was. [Brown] actually had this idea, and she was already in the process of working on it. I said, ‘Boom, this is what we should do.'
Straight Outta Compton hits theaters on August 14. Check out the uncensored theatrical trailer here on Zumic.