[Sidebar] The Worcester Phoenix
December 17 - 24, 1999

[Music Reviews]

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*** Dr. Dre



Dr. Dre's blockbuster The Chronic low-rode off the assembly line seven years ago, and if that fact makes you feel kinda old, just imagine how Dre feels. The lyrics of "Still D.R.E.," the first single off the new Chronic 2001, rejoin a '92-style Dre day already in progress (still rockin' khakis with a cuff and a crease, hatin' police, and makin' beats for the street), right down to the Snoop Dogg guest appearance. The copy of "Hotel California" on the floor in the inside-cover photo probably inspired the digitized acoustic-guitar plucks in "Still" and may have suggested this album's overall vibe: Dre spent the mid '90s checking out post-G-thang career paths, but he could never leave.

The Chronic's squirmy mini-Moogs, P-Funk chunks, and So-Cal biofeedback have given way to a black frost of somber piano and synth tones glacial enough for Detroit techno, as if Dre's mothership had dropped him off in one of the Future Sound of London's dead cities. The Dr. rhymes ruminatively, casting his boasts in terms of how much he has to lose, complaining that his friends don't know him anymore, and asking his enemies, "How much Tupac you got in you?" Halfway through, there's a widely discussed orgy scene where Dre takes Ecstasy (and ends up passing out after jerking off on a towel); eventually, he hands off to a veritable pimp convention of guest stars, with Xzibit, Eminem, and Hittman as the brightest lights on an album so somber even the gun-clap sound effects are silencer-equipped.

-- Alex Pappademas
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