In Defense of: The Chronic 2001

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The amount of venom spit by Todd and Wes toward Dr. Dre’s late-millennium masterwork The Chronic 2001 had me all kinds of worked up last week.  In fact, there was a lot of hate aimed towards Dre that was simply baffling to me.  Despite the wide-ranging barbs directed at Dr. Dre, I would like to limit the scope of this post to The Chronic 2001, the main reason being that I think this album is the true culmination of all of Dre’s talents and far superior to The Chronic (1992 edition).  So instead of writing ten thousand words, and including arguments about how the careers of Ice Cube, Eminem, Snoop Dogg, 50 Cent, etc. essentially sprouted from Dre’s fertile loins, I will try to stay on point.  Not that there would be any appreciation by Todd or Wes of Ice Cube.  Cube didn’t get killed by firearm like Biggy or Tupac, so white kids in the 90’s didn’t pay attention to him (note: blows Tupac out of the water).  But, I digress.  I’m also going to try to stay away from arguments about why Dr. Dre is still musically relevant.  I think the 2010 killer single, “I Need A Doctor”, speaks for itself. 

So what I’m going to do is start addressing particular comments, starting with the most fair, and advancing to the most absurd, trying to limit my comments as much as possible to The Chronic 2001 and ripping on Todd and Wes.

Comment #1 – Wes: “I’m sure it sounds pretty good when you’re drinking jungle juice with a bunch of sorority girls”

My Response:  Why yes, it certainly does.  In fact, my college rap party mix CD is now a thing of legend.  Bookending the likes of Jay-Z’s “Takeover”, Busta’s “Dangerous”, Ice Cube’s “Hello”, and many others were The Chronic 2001’s “What’s the Difference” and “Still D.R.E.”.  I think what elitist Wes is saying, is if a lot of people can have fun and party to an album or song, then that album must have no artistic value.  And ole’ Mr. Albums-Over-Songs would surely not approve of any hastily thrown-together mix CD. 

Comment #2 – Todd: “and with the argument quickly spinning to whether or not Dre was truly worth a damn due… and his shitty headphones (worldwide opinion)”

My Response:  This is what it really comes down to for Todd.  He hates Dr. Dre because after years upon years of being a corporate whore to Best Buy, he can’t detach himself from the performance of a pair of headphones.  Todd is really more Tinseltown robot than man these days, so the obvious logical flaw of attaching a man’s music to the headphones he’s pushing doesn’t compute.  Sure, the headphones suck, but I love me some Dr. Pepper.

Comment #3 – Wes (looking at the tracklist, because he is so unfamiliar with the album he is ripping on): “There is a track called ‘B**** N****z’, which is obviously something I wouldn’t be into.”

My Response:  Apparently its only okay if Kanye or Jay-Z use those terms when it comes to Wes’ hip-hop tastes.  God forbid his delicate sensibilities be perturbed by an artist actually putting those words in the title of a song.  Oh wait, Jay-Z has tracks titled “Jigga that N****” and “F*** All Night”, so I guess what it all comes down to is Dre isn’t quite as trendy, so he can’t use the naughty words that Jay does.

Comment #4 – Todd:  “There are only 3 memorable tracks on that album [referring to The Chronic 2001]” (Todd then went on to list the three singles from the album: “Still D.R.E.”, “Next Episode”, and “Forgot About Dre”).

My Response:  I’m sorry Todd that you can’t/choose not to remember anything other than what Hot 107.9 played twice an hour.  In my opinion, Todd probably has never even heard the entire album, or if so, not for a very long time.  While the holy triumvirate of singles off of 2001 is all phenomenal, failing to mention “What’s the Difference” is a crime against hip-hop itself.  On “What’s the Difference” Dre leads off with a strong verse, Xzibit surprisingly holds serve, and then Eminem drops what may be the most transcendent verse of his career.  The mild interplay between Eminem and Dre during Eminem’s verse is perfectly done, culminating in the in a line by Dr. Dre that is an incredible example of misogyny, but still somehow touching, “If you ever kill that Kim b****, I’ll show you where the ocean is”.  Eminem then polishes off his unhinged verse with “We can scream I just don’t give a f***, and see who means it”.  I truly believe that at that moment, Eminem means those words more than anyone alive.  Another fantastic track that apparently isn’t “memorable” to Todd is “F*** You”, in which Dre once again kicks it off and then Devin the Dude flawlessly transitions into Snoop, skipping over the hook completely.  The only regret after hearing “F*** You” is that Devin the Dude doesn’t appear for the remainder of the album. 

But that’s kind of the think with Dr. Dre and The Chronic 2001.  He doesn’t have to be the highlight of every track on his own album.  Some might say he isn’t the highlight because his flow or lyrics just aren’t that good.  Compared to Eminem, Ice Cube, or Lil’ Wayne that may be true, and in fact Dre doesn’t even write most of his own lyrics.  But find me another artist that is so self-aware that on his album, the album that bears his name, he highlights other artists that may fit better.  Why not let Eminem, Devin the Dude, Kurupt, Hittman, etc. highlight if it is going to add something to the album.  The Chronic 2001 wasn’t Dr. Dre’s second solo album, it was a collaborative event.  Without this album, the Up In Smoke Tour probably would have never happened, which is probably the most underrated musical event of the past 20 years. 

I really could go on and on about how “Let’s Get High” is one of the best songs about getting stoned, and just a classic West Coast throwback.  Or, how “XXXplosive” contains one of the finest moments of Nate Dogg’s careers.  Unfortunately, none of this will convince oversensitive headphone connoisseurs like Todd and Wes as to the cultural significance and musical phenomenon that is The Chronic 2001

Dr. Dre: Hard as Hell....still

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3 comments

  • Mitchell B

    Just to play devils advocate, “Pause for Porno”…what’s your explanation?

    • Austin

      I’ll give you Dre’s explanation, then I’ll give you my evaluation of his explanation.

      Dre’s explanation (per wikipedia): The album was originally intended to be a mixtape; with tracks linked through interludes and turntable effects, but was then changed to be set up like a film. Dr. Dre stated, “Everything you hear is planned. It’s a movie, with different varieties of situations. So you’ve got buildups, touching moments, aggressive moments. You’ve even got a ‘Pause for Porno.’ It’s got everything that a movie needs.

      My Evaluation (per my mindgrapes): While a clever explanation on the surface, basically that every over-indulgent big budget movie has the obligatory sex scene, so his album should as well, it doesn’t hold up and is really just an excuse for another crappy rap skit.

      Maybe we should compare and contrast “Pause for Porno” with “F*** Me” from Biggy’s masterpiece Ready to Die. I would suggest that “F*** Me” sounds a lot more authentic.

  • Brad

    You’re right Austin. Wes approves of no mixes. That’s stuff for 13 year olds. Songs by different artists don’t belong on the same album. Good music must not only be an album, but preferably a concept-album. A concept-album that takes you on a “spiritual journey” is key. One that takes infinite patience and hundreds of listens before you can grasp all of its subtle nuances.

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