With the first release on his Death Row records this former N.W.A producer-rapper could claim to have changed the face of hip-hop. Dre’s unanticipated multi-platinum album The Chronic (1992) turned a clutch of funk classics into a new form dubbed “G-Funk” (as in gangsta funk). Juddering basslines lulled listeners into a mid-tempo stupor while high-end ’70s synths wove a hypnotic top-end around implacable gangsta threats; three straight Chronic hits were accompanied by Dre-directed videos evoking an idyllic gangsta lifestyle (the title is an alias for marijuana).
Dre, once a member of the obscure, effetely clad funk group World Class Wreckin’ Cru, had earned respect as a producer during his N.W.A tenure, creating diverse hits for fellow band member Eazy-E, Texas rhymer the D.O.C., female rap trio J.J. Fad, and tiny-voiced R&B singer Michel’le. The Chronic, released on his (and his formidable partner Marion “Suge” Knight’s) Death Row Records, confirmed him… Continue reading