If you haven't heard of Dr. Dre, don't call yourself a rap/Hip Hop fan. I first got into Dre's material when he was part of NWA. Though, the material he did in the World Class Wrekkin' Crew was done before NWA, I got into it after hearing his NWA related joints. The very much publicized leaving of Dre from NWA, and his beef with basically the NWA front man, Eazy-E got Dre quite a bit more exposure, and with the creation of Death Row, Dr. Dre rose to new heights. He brought out Snoop, and released one of the best rap LP's I've heard; 'The Chronic.' The beats on the LP were just plain dope, and the assortment of guests and great tracks combined to create something brilliant.
Obviously, after releasing such a brilliant LP (which has been praised since its release) everyone was eager to hear a follow-up. But, we didn't, we heard quite a few Dre guest appearances, a fair few solo tracks, and quite a bit of production. But no new LP. In 1996, Dre left the label which (in my opinion) he'd been responsible for the success of. He left Death Row and created the label, Aftermath. Soon after the label was formed, a reasonably good compilation was dropped, containing tracks from artists on the label. People still wanted a Dre solo. Well, since then, we've consistently heard rumours of Dre's LP dropping the next month, or the next week, or next year, however, it hasn't been true until now.
On the 16th of November, 1999, the sequel to 'The Chronic' will drop.
Does it match up to all the hype, over 6 years worth of it?
The hype for the actual release started around late June. That's when 'What's The Difference' (the original version featuring Hittman, not Xzibit) started floating around radio shows, mixtapes and bootleg 12"s. Almost everyone I spoke to about it, loved it, now though the original version isn't on here, a newer, in my opinion, better version is. Xzibit was added, Hittman was removed, and the beat was tweaked a bit. A nice improvement. Then, the best Hip Hop website on the net leaked the cut 'Forgot About Dre' featuring Eminem. This track wet people's appetites more than ever before, Dre and Eminem spit some real nice, fast paced rhymes. 'Forgot About Dre' has also been slightly altered, but, it's present here for your listening pleasure.
Around early/mid September, the first official single dropped. 'Still Dre.' The track had Dre and Snoop collaborating over a real nice beat, but, though it was dope, the real stir about it that was created was that Jay-Z had co-written the lyrics. Either way, it turned out really dope, and with the 12" being on clear green vinyl, well, it's a nice addition. Also, though it isn't sold everywhere, 'Fuck You' and 'Xxplosive' were released on a 12". 'Fuck You' is pretty ill, but the gem on that 12" was 'Xxplosive,' a big posse cut with some dope rhymes, well worth purchasing. 'Xxplosive' is the updated version of 'Pimpin' which was cut from the LP, but the beat was re-used for the posse cut that replaced it.
On my first listen of this LP, I must admit, I was disappointed, it could be that my mind was wandering, I don't know, but I discovered how much I loved it the second time I heard it.
The assortment of guests isn't anything like the majority of LPs with very many guests. Know why? Well, it's because this LP is dope. You have guesting on the LP; Snoop Dogg, Eminem, Hittman, Devin The Dude, Nate Dogg, Six Two, Xzibit, Defari, Knoc Turn'al, Time Bomb, King T, MC Ren, Kokane, Kurupt and Mary J. Blige along with comedian Eddie Griffith and others.
'2001's highlights are non-stop. You have the previously circulated tracks on here, along with ill collaborations like 'Some LA Niggaz' which features King T, MC Ren, Defari, Xzibit, Knoc Turn'al, Time Bomb, and Kokane. I mean, shit, look at the line up. King T, MC Ren, Xzibit and Defari. No disrespect to the other emcees on the track, but, those lot on one track ! Basically, it's a dope posse cut over a nice beat with a sung hook.
You also have gems like 'Big Ego's,' 'Bitch Niggaz' and 'The Next Episode.' All are amazing, 'Big Ego's' features a really dope beat, with some real nice rhymes by Dre and Hittman, plus, a hook which after you've heard it about three times, you find yourself uncontrollably chanting along with it. 'Bitch Niggaz' features Snoop Dogg, Hittman and Six two, and, yet another dope beat. The rhymes are nice, with some comical lines scattered throughout the verses. And, arguably my favourite of the three I just mentioned is 'The Next Episode.' The beat on the cut has a very recognizable sample, and is just plain and simply dope. Nate Dogg sings his heart out, Dre and Snoop drop some nice rhymes and Kurupt shouts a bit, haha, basically an ill track.
The LP also has its fair share of comedic skits. Eddie Griffith provides some humorous comments, and Jake Sneed adds a generic sex interlude, which is amusing, entitled 'Pause 4 Porno.'
I could inform you more about each track, but there's no real need, I think you get the point. The last track that I will talk about is 'The Message,' a pretty touching track featuring Mary J. Blige. This track is a really well rhymed dedication to his brother, Tariq. Along with a selection of well-created beats, Mary J. Blige adds some soulful singing.
This LP is not a lyrical masterpiece. There also isn't an overwhelming amount of depth, however, the tracks here are enjoyable and fun to listen to, creating a selection of hip hop tracks which will require the volume being increased and the pleasure being made bigger.
I would have liked to have seen Ice Cube on here, as what was originally planned, and maybe a couple of tracks with Daz rhyming, but it's still a very impressive LP without them.
To sum things up. This is my favourite LP that I've reviewed over the past 18 months. I haven't given anything a 9/10 until this. So you should realize that this LP is ill. Some people may need to listen to the LP more than once to fully appreciate it (I know I did), but, once you give it a chance. You'll be hooked. Definitely pick this LP up.