This week I’m reviewing Dr. Dre’s 2001. It is a triumphant return to rap and annihilates any question if Dre still had it in him since releasing The Chronic seven years earlier in 1992.
Artist: Dr. Dre (also featuring Xzibit, Devin the Dude, Snoop Dogg, Hittman, Kurupt, Nate Dogg, Six-Two, Eminem, Ms. Roq, Knoc-Turn’al, Mary J. Blige)
Genre: Gangsta Rap
Worth Your Time? Absolutely. Even if you don’t like rap, you should still give it a listen. It is a classic.
Twitter Review: Production and lyrics are unparalleled and refreshing. It is from a bygone era before materialism took center stage in the rap scene.
Please note that any links below should be considered NSFW. Expect strong language and sexual situations to be contained in all of these songs.
Top 5 Tracks:
Things to Look For:
- Guest Stars. Eddie Griffin is hilarious as the drunk bartender in Bar One and in his Ed-Ucation speech. While Ed-Ucation is done in a sobering matter, I don’t think you can take it any other way than a joke. Next, Jake Steed, a retired 90’s adult film star who may be currently hiding in South America from US law enforcement after skipping out on his trial date and may be central to finding the location of the jetpack is GTA V, makes an appearance on Pause 4 Porno. Finally, Tommy Chong makes a surprise appearance at the end of the album as part of a hidden track, Outro, where he tries to obtain illegal prescriptions from Dr. Dre. Including one of the most prolific potheads in a sequel to The Chronic was hysterical to say the least.
- Those Big Beautiful Beats. Dr. Dre is actually better known for his producing than rapping. His ability for beat creation is legendary as he is known by many as the father of G-Funk which influenced just about any rap artist that came after him on some level. To give you an idea of his dedication to production, Dre will actually have in-house musicians play the music he wishes to sample from rather than taking the original material so he has more control over it to get it just the way he wants it. Another example of the care and dedication he puts into his work is Big Ego’s intro which starts with a conversation with air traffic control to request to land at LAX. It sets up a dramatic movie atmosphere for the rest of the song without even showing a single picture. I’ve hummed along and bobbed my head to so many songs on this album. I am in awe of his ability to turn some sparse notes and a bassline into a prolific influential genre-defining sound with widespread mass appeal. Plinking on a piano has never sounded so good.
- M&M. While there are many incredible well delivered lyrics on this album and I probably have about 30 instances where a perfectly executed verse of clever word play will make me smile every time, the young Eminem really stands out from everybody. I look forward to his parts anytime I listen to this album.
- Nods. Several times throughout 2001, there are some subtle and not so subtle references to Dr. Dre’s previous release, The Chronic and NWA’s Straight Outta Compton of which he was a member of NWA. It’s quite fun when you happen to catch one.
Low Points: I know some people are probably going to not like me for saying this but I think The Message is the weakest song on the album. The song is about about Dre’s deceased brother Tyree which makes it sacrosanct for a lot of poeple. I wish that this song had an emotional impact on me like so many other songs related to the passing of a loved one but it unfortunately didn’t. At times the lyrics felt too cliche and generic for me to make that connection. And I think I know why. The only writing credit for this song is Royce Da 5’9″ who is part of rap supergroup Slaughterhouse and one half of Bad Meets Evil with Eminem filling out the other half. My guess is if it had been Dre who wrote it rather than Royce, the emotional intensity that I was seeking would have been overflowing on this track.
Anything Else: Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, Xzibit and pretty much anybody who has rapped on this album, I would like to introduce you to a person that I think you need to meet: Miss Ogyny. Miss Ogyny, may I present the current membership of the He-Man Woman Haters Club. The one interesting rapper on this album in regards to the topic of misogyny is Ms. Roc who completely turns the tables on the men during her verses at the end of Let’s Get High. Only rich well endowed men are of any use to her though manual stimulation is sometimes prefered as it is less cumbersome than dealing with otherwise worthless men. In addition, she forces men to perform oral sex on her rather than the other way around. Notice, I just said this was interesting. I don’t think the inclusion of Ms. Roc’s performance somehow undoes everything said by the other performers on the rest of the album.
The lyrics throughout this album are incredibly misogynistic. Women are consistently valued only for performing sexual acts and I use the term valued loosely since I’m not even sure the lyrics indicate any appreciation for those. If an alien had heard only this album and came to Earth, they would think women existed solely for the purpose of providing oral sex and annoying men with their feelings. I don’t think men should view women like that. Any man who has those views is despicable and is doing nothing but holding back our society from progressing to a more equal environment. I view my wife as my partner in our marriage. We work as a team and there isn’t anything she can’t do if she puts her mind to it. I look at my female family members, friends, co-workers and personal heroes and can only come to the conclusion that you are insane if you think men are somehow superior to women.
So how can I disagree with the lyrics so much and still enthusiastically tell you to listen to this album? Well, I don’t believe in censoring art in any way. I tend to compartmentalize art appreciation and social views. I’d rather have some negative views out there than telling somebody that they cannot say something simply because I don’t agree with it. Mostly because putting anybody in charge of deciding what can and can’t be said is far too much power for any person or group of people. Next, there are numerous instances of rappers that are playing characters rather than playing themselves when they rap. The horrorcore rap sub-genre is a prime example of that. I’d be willing to bet that there isn’t a single practicing Satanist in the entire genre. Just because you rap about the devil, demons and death on your albums doesn’t mean you are wearing black robes in your basement with lit red candles everywhere as you try to summon the prince of darkness in your free time. Finally, Dr. Dre didn’t create the misogynistic attitude we see so often in society. He’s just reflecting it back to us. You want to break that mirror? Start treating women the way they should be. Set an example to family, friends, co-workers and even strangers that women deserve to be treated equally by actually treating them equally. Try to be conscious of it so you can be aware of when you make a mistake. Then you can do better next time.
If you really want to see how big of a problem this issue is, please take the time to regularly visit The Everyday Sexism Project. Some of this stuff sounds like it should have happened in the 1950’s instead of yesterday. I get so incredibly sad and angry when I visit this site. I also encourage both sexes to visit. There are numerous posts of women inflicting other women with these horrible sexist attitudes. I think we all can do better on some level by taking some time for real self-reflection and introspection.