Hip-hop’s short attention span has been well-documented. A popular rapper typically can’t afford to take a couple of years away from the spotlight at the risk of returning to a completely shifted cultural and musical landscape. So the idea that a hip-hop artist — even an immensely popular and influential one — could not release an album for more than 15 years and still generate a tremendous amount of interest and buzz is quite confounding. But that’s exactly the case with West Coast kingpin Dr. Dre, who’s just released his long-awaited (understatement of the year) third solo album. It’s not the mythic Detox project that had been teased for more than a decade, though. Dre’s new project is Compton: A Soundtrack, a new album that serves as his third proper solo release, an unofficial soundtrack to the upcoming biopic about his legendary former group N.W.A. and a celebration of both Dre’s legacy and the hip-hop lineage that runs throughout Southern California in general and Los Angeles’ most notorious suburb, in particular.
Compton finds Dr. Dre relishing his elder statesman status, his notorious reputation, his business acumen and the streets of the CPT. Opening with archival news audio describing the urban blight that saw Compton shift from a bustling hub of middle-class Black upward mobility to a ‘burb overrun with crime and poverty, the album immediately showcases two of Dre’s newer proteges, King Mez and Justus on the opening “Intro,” before Dre swoops in with “guess who’s back” bravado, bragging that he still has “Eminem checks I ain’t cashed yet.”
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