Monday, August 3, 2015

Song of the Day #174 - Dr. Dre - Kush (ft. Snoop Dogg and Akon)

Hold up, wait a minute...

Alright so if you haven't heard, Dr. Dre announced Compton yesterday, his first album in 16 years. I was at a bar with a friend who's totally uninterested in hip hop yesterday and I saw it on the TV in one of the little blurb things. And I got really excited and started hitting the table and the waitress thought I was trying to get her attention and I felt a little bad. And since then I keep thinking about it,

2001 was one of the defining albums of my hip hop tastes. Throughout all of high school whenever I'd go mow the lawn I'd listen to it and rap along to every song. I'd have to be really loud to hear myself over the lawnmower. Beyond just the sheer kinetic fun of being able to match these expert flows, it was a way to make the extreme remoteness of my rural home a positive aspect, in the face of having to mow a gigantic lawn for 3 hours. Like "at least I can get away with this here". This is the sort of power good g-funk can instill into you. Soon I'm gonna be on the farm again, but will Compton live up to 2001 in this regard?

Ehhh I dunno maybe not. In the 16 years of Detox anticipation, people have veered in two directions. The first is the type to cite Dre's "perfectionism", saying that he's been in the lab with the pen and the pad etc and Detox is gonna be in every way the same level of innovation and perfection as 2001. The reason it hasn't come out yet is that it just isn't good enough yet! The most extreme version of this belief is that Dre actually has a gigantic vault of recordings of rappers in their prime and Detox was gonna be some insane fusion of all these, like, one song could have a Nate Dogg hook (rip) and a prime 50 verse and a fire Kendrick verse etc etc. This is a very tempting line of thinking.

But I'm mostly in the latter camp, which believes that Detox has never really existed in any major form, that it was just 16 years of false starts, abandoned ideas, and general apathy. Since 2001, Dre started Beats and sold it for like 2 billion to Apple, becoming the richest man in hip hop. His albums' legacies have endured for almost two decades, evidenced by the fact that people are still asking for the next one. He has absolutely nothing to prove but has absolutely everything to lose if he tarnishes his record - which is largely immaculate, or at least consistently profitable - with a brick. That's about the least appealing circumstances I could imagine for writing an album.

And yeah, this seems largely confirmed - while announcing Compton, he was like "nah Detox isn't coming out it sucked". My feeling is this: because the NWA movie is coming out, Dre felt some sense of shame that he hasn't actually, y'know, made music in awhile. I think it's the pressure of his legacy that makes him want to push stuff out. You get this in "I Need a Doctor" too. So he's abandoning the idea of making the followup to 2001 and instead going for a personal, intimate, serious-business album about the city he's from.

I feel like it'll be... pretty good maybe? But my feelings for it are the same as the NWA movie, actually... the more they aim for serious, for masterpiece-tier, the more they have to succeed. Like, it's way better to be a mediocre entertaining movie than a mediocre movie trying to be some genius masterpiece. But the latter is possible, and I kinda want to believe.

BUT REALLY I JUST WISH IT WAS ALL BANGERS, like this one, wow I almost forgot to talk about it. I want just a bunch of beats like this one or this one. Like hearing that little clip makes me believe in the conspiracies that Detox was real and finished and had a timetravel collaboration between Tupac and Kendrick that the world was just not ready for etc etc. Or that Dre is using his Beats money to clone Eazy-E.

And I kinda feel like that when I hear "Kush", because this is a certified G-funk banger and, in Dre fashion, he's managed to make Akon step up to A-game and Snoop kinda give a shit. It's just about smoking good weed, which is fine, because the amazing thing about Dr. Dre is that he became a billionaire largely off songs about stuff like that. And it's also a celebration of the whole idea that you can become at least a millionaire like this, which many have in the wake of Dre. And imo Dre doesn't have to rap about that fact, like, he has no obligation to be in service of his legacy in this way. But he does have an amazing legacy, and the proper story could make a masterpiece of it. Will Compton be that story? Man idk I guess we'll find out in a few days!!!

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