The breakout solo debut for Dr. Dre, The Chronic, was (and still is) a timeless banger in its own right! This record revolutionized west coast hip-hop, setting the standard for everything in the genre that followed. Not only does this album showcase the groundbreaking production talent of Dre, not to mention his powerful lyrical style and delivery, but it also introduces us to some upcoming talent – namely, Warren G, Nate Dog, and (a certain) Snoop Doggy Dogg.
Fresh off his split with N.W.A., Dr. Dre released The Chronic on his own Death Row Records on December 15, 1992. The album cover pays tribute to Zig Zag rolling papers and the title is slang for high grade cannabis. On this record, Dre patented a new style of hip-hop, a sub-genre of sorts, called G-Funk. This style incorporates “fat, blunted beats” with old school soul/funkadelic grooves and rolling bass lines with single line synthesizers. But the key to this new style was the lyrical delivery. The form would later be called a “lazy drawl;” a laid-back delivery – controlled and measured – but containing ferocious, offensive, aggressive content. The new combination launched Dre and Death Row (and every single guest performer on the record) to the top of the hip-hop field.
My dad (the O.G. Metalhead) remembers this record’s release. He says, “We’d go to [metal] head parties where it’s usually the newest Metal album being played, and hear this new thing called ‘Gangsta’. I’m not exaggerating when I say, almost every single Metal Head was into this new stuff! It related well to the Metal community, with its swaggering style and crushing lyrics. The delivery was strange at first, but the words were all-too familiar.” There are many Metal shows I go to today where, when music is played between bands, Dr. Dre or Snoop Dogg or Coolio, etc. is played over the speakers.
The Chronic peaked at number three on the Billboard Top 200. It was certified triple platinum by RIAA, selling over three million copies. The records three singles reached the Top Ten on the Top Ten Billboard singles. “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” reached #2 on Billboard Hot 100, and #1 on both Hot Rap Si goes and Hot R&B Singles charts. The album ranks 138th on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums of all Time. In 2020, The Chronic was selected by The Library of Congress to be placed into the National Recording Registry because of its “cultural, historical, and aesthetic significance.”
Favorite songs: F*ck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’), Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang, Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat
Rating: 10/10!! One of the best records ever!
What are some of your favorite songs off of The Chronic?