Monday, November 29, 1999
Houston, Texas
Volume 65, Issue 68

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What's Up Doc?
Dr. Dre attempts to silence critics with long-awaited new set

Dr. Dre -- 2001

Dr. Dre
Aftermath/Interscope Records
22 tracks; 68:12

C +

By Jake McKim
Daily Cougar Staff

The music world is littered with imitators and flavor-of-the-month artists who go with the "hot" style of music at the time rather than being innovators.

Others burst onto the scene with such an original, captivating presence that they change the landscape of music and inspire copycat artists to come.

Stan Musilek/Aftermath/Interscope Records

Hardcore rapper/producer Dr. Dre follows up 1992's The Chronic, the album most consider the most influential rap album of the '90's with the new Dr. Dre -- 2001.

Dr. Dre is one of these latter innovators who brought gangsta music to the mainstream in 1992 with The Chronic, striking fear in the hearts of parents across the country with autobiographical tales glorifying ghetto life and its hardships.

Classic hip-hop anthems "Nuthin But a 'G' Thang," "Let Me Ride" and "Dre Day" not only related to young African-Americans but also provided suburban white kids an alternative to rock music; and because these kids' parents hated rap, it only made them embrace it more.

After releasing The Chronic, Dre took time off from his own career to produce other artists and start his own record label, Aftermath Entertainment.

However, with this lengthy time-off came unrelenting playa-hating from fans and other rappers claiming Dre had lost the magic touch and would never be able to make another successful album.

So, fed up with the negative talk, Dre has released Dr. Dre -- 2001 in an effort to silence critics and prove he hasn't lost a step.

The 22-track set starts off with "The Watcher," in which Dre brings back that early '90s west coast sound that kept parties bouncin' for years after The Chronic's release.

"Still D.R.E.," the first single off the album, re-unites Dre and Snoop Dogg and incites flashbacks to a time when Death Row Records dominated the music scene.

"What's The Difference," featuring talented rappers Eminem (Dre's protégé) and Xzibit, is a tight, head-bobbin' track with an undeniable sound. "Forgot About Dre," also featuring Eminem, is a lyrical smack-down to those who said Dre had lost his mic skills.

"Who you thought taught you how to smoke trees?/Who you thought brought you the O.D.s?/Eazy-Es, Ice Cubes and D.O.C.s/the Snoop D-O-GGs and the group that said (screw) the police?/... and when your album sales wasn't doing too good, who's the doc that they told you go to see?" These lyrics from "Forgot about Dre" are basically Dre's way of pronouncing he's the best hip-hop producer around -- and he just might be right.

The album features an amazing 23 guest artists including everyone from Houston's own Devin to Mary J. Blige. In fact, "The Watcher" is the lone track in which Dre raps by himself.

However, the problem with Dr. Dre -- 2001 lies in that there just aren't enough great, memorable tracks to make it a worthwhile follow-up to The Chronic. Unimpressive tracks like "Big Egos," "Light Speed" and "Housewife" are more common than the great ones, and there aren't enough great tracks to overcome the bad.

Yes, Dre does spit the same weed-worshipping, street-life lyrics that helped him sell millions of copies of The Chronic, but this time it just seems a little less "real" -- it almost feels forced, as if he's doing whatever possible to win back the hardcore rap music fans.

Dr. Dre does deserve credit for holding on to the solid, beat-driven West Coast style he first came out with, but Dr. Dre -- 2001 simply lacks the punch sorely needed to silence critics after an eight-year hiatus.

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