Review: Dr. Dre – Compton


At first listen to Compton: A Soundtrack By Dr. Dre, it’s hard not to judge it against The Chronic, one of the greatest albums in the history of rap music. But give it a few days in rotation and you realize that Compton, Dr. Dre’s first studio album in 16 years in the wake of the never released Detox, is epic in its own right. Inspired by the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton for which he’s an executive producer, Dre solidifies his already official G status as the master architect of west coast gangsta rap. But Compton is so much more than Dr. Dre’s third and final album following 2001 which was released in 1999. In addition to featuring a who’s who of the G-funk through post-gangsta rap era, Dr. Dre is incredibly relevant considering the fact that he’s still holding down the rap game at age 50. As a matter of fact, half of the rappers on the album are between the ages of 35 and 46, including The Game, Xzibit, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Cold 187um and Eminem, a detail that’s not lost on those who realize that hip-hop is swiftly approaching middle age, yet that age is working out favorably. And with that age has come a certain measure of wisdom if you’ve been through types of experiences Dr. Dre has maneuvered throughout his 30-year career in music and business. This is what shines through on the surprise release of Compton: A Soundtrack.

The album is a mix of straight G-dom with a chock-full of nostalgia (“Talking To My Diary”) and a brand of social consciousness (“Animals”) that will appeal to conscious folks who genuinely love gangsta rap. The album opens with an engaging theatrical soundscape, similar to those of the classic movie intros, which paves the way for an often disregarded retrospective of the City of Compton’s historical narrative. In it, the narrator explains how the sunny California suburb was once home to a community where the Black American dream could be attained before its eventual deterioration due to crime, poverty and gang activity. The introduction is a perfect foundation for the overall solid work that Dre and his team of cohorts build on with bangers like “Talk About It”, “Genocide”, “Darkside/Gone”, “Loose Cannons”, and “One Shot One Kill”.

The mood and atmosphere of the album is classic Dr. Dre and is mixed to the highest standard by the king of beats. The interludes are dark and heavy, but provide an insightful look into the inner workings of the home turf, and do their part to add to the overall complex biography of Compton as authenticated by Dre. In addition to cameos by Marsha Ambrosius and Jill Scott that showcase their versatility as songstresses, Compton welcomes proteges Justus and King Mez as well as Anderson .Paak, a singer and rapper with Bilal-like flavor. As is to be expected, Kendrick Lamar holds his own on songs as Compton’s newest superstar rapper with flows that underscore why Dr. Dre is his mentor. Dre’s N.W.A roots are also at the core of this album with a song featuring Ice Cube and shout outs to MC Ren and DJ Yella. Then there’s the samples of Eazy-E and Bone Thugs-n-Harmony that makes the album something for the homies to be proud of. Released as a companion piece to the movie Straight Outta Compton, Dr. Dre fans can hope for at least one more album with Dre’s input once the official soundtrack for the film is released.


Written by Mai Perkins

Originally from Los Angeles, Mai Perkins is living a genuine bona fide love affair with NYC and the music that keeps its spirit moving. While spending the majority of the last decade in Brooklyn, many of her adventures around the globe are documented on her blog: Mai On The Move!

Author’s rating for Compton

Pop Magazine’s official rating for Compton

Rating key
MASTERPIECE a must-have
SUPERB for heavy rotation
EXCELLENT a great achievement
VERY GOOD a respectable result
GOOD worth checking out
FAIR an average outcome
WEAK not convincing stuff
BAD an underwhelming effort
VERY BAD quite a waste
FAIL a total failure

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