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The Chronic

The Chronic is the solo debut album of American hip hop artist Dr. Dre, released December 15, 1992, on his own record label Death Row Records, and distributed by Priority Records. Recording sessions for the album took place in June 1992 at Death Row Studios in Los Angeles and at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood. The album is named after a slang term for high-grade marijuana, and its cover is an homage to Zig-Zag rolling papers. It was recorded by Dr. Dre following his departure from hip hop group N.W.A and its label Ruthless Records over a financial dispute, and consequently features both subtle and direct insults at Ruthless and its owner, former N.W.A-member Eazy-E. Although a solo album, it features many appearances by Snoop Dogg, who used the album as a launch pad for his own solo career.

Upon its release, The Chronic received positive reviews from most music critics and earned considerable sales success. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 and has sold over three million copies,[1] which led to Dr. Dre becoming one of the top ten best-selling American performing artists of 1993.[2] Dr. Dre's production has been noted for founding and popularizing the G-funk sub-genre within gangsta rap. The Chronic has been widely regarded as one of the most important and influential albums of the 1990s and regarded by many fans and peers to be the most well-produced hip hop album of all time.[3][4][5] In 2003, the album was ranked number 137 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.

Contents


Music

Production

The production on The Chronic was seen as innovative and ground-breaking, and received universal acclaim from critics. Allmusic commented on Dr. Dre's efforts, "Here, Dre established his patented G-funk sound: fat, blunted Parliament-Funkadelic beats, soulful backing vocals, and live instruments in the rolling basslines and whiny synths"[4] and that "For the next four years, it was virtually impossible to hear mainstream hip-hop that wasn't affected in some way by Dre and his patented G-funk."[6] Unlike other hip hop acts (such as The Bomb Squad) that sampled heavily, Dr. Dre only utilized one or few samples per song.[7] In Rolling Stones The Immortals The Greatest Artists of All Time, where Dr. Dre was listed at number 54, Kanye West wrote on the album's production quality: "The Chronic is still the hip-hop equivalent to Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life. It's the benchmark you measure your album against if you're serious."[8] Jon Pareles of The New York Times described the production, writing "The bottom register is swampy synthesizer bass lines that openly emulate Parliament-Funkadelic; the upper end is often a lone keyboard line, whistling or blipping incessantly. In between are wide-open spaces that hold just a rhythm guitar, sparse keyboard chords."[9] Pareles observed that the songs "were smoother and simpler than East Coast rap, and [Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg] decisively expanded the hip-hop audience into the suburbs."[10] Until this point, mainstream hip hop had been primarily party music (for example, Beastie Boys)[11] or angry and politically charged (for example, Public Enemy or X-Clan), and had consisted almost entirely of samples and breakbeats.[12][13] Dr. Dre ushered in a new musical style and lyrics for hip hop. The beats were slower and mellower, borrowing from late 1970s and early 1980s funk music. By mixing these early influences with original live instrumentation, he created a distinctive genre known as G-funk.[9]

Lyrics

The album's lyrics caused some controversy, as the subject matter included homophobia and violent representations. It was noted that the album was a "frightening amalgam of inner-city street gangs that includes misogynist sexual politics and violent revenge scenarios".[14] Dr. Dre's dissing of former band-mate, Eazy-E, resulted in vicious lyrics, which were mainly aimed at offending his enemy with homosexual implications, although it was noted to have "a spirited cleverness in the phrasing and rhymes; in other words, the song is offensive, but it's creatively offensive".[15]

Rapper Snoop Dogg, who had a significant role on the album, was praised for his lyrics and flow, and it was mentioned that "Coupled with his inventive rhymes, Snoop's distinctive style made him a superstar before he'd even released a recording of his own"[1] and that his involvement was as important to the album's success as its production.[16] Tour of The New York Times remarks that "While Snoop delivers rhymes delicately, the content is anything but. Growing up poor, often surrounded by violence, and having served six months in the Wayside County jail outside of Los Angeles (for cocaine possession) gave Snoop Dogg experiences upon which he draws."[17] Snoop Dogg later commented on the "reality" of his lyrics, stating "My raps are incidents where either I saw it happen to one of my close homies or I know about it from just being in the ghetto. I can't rap about something I don't know. You'll never hear me rapping about no bachelor's degree. It's only what I know and that's that street life. It's all everyday life, reality."[17]

Singles

Three singles were released from the album: "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang", "Fuck wit Dre Day" and "Let Me Ride". "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" was released as the first single on January 19, 1993. It peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and number one on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks and Hot Rap Singles.[18] It sold over a million copies and the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) certified it Platinum on March 24, 1993.[19] The song was nominated for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group at the 1994 Grammy Awards,[20] but lost to Digable Planets' "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)". Steve Huey of Allmusic named it "the archetypal G-funk single" and added "The sound, style, and performances of "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" were like nothing else on the early-'90s hip-hop scene."[1] He praised Snoop Dogg's performance, stating "[Snoop Dogg's] flow was laconic and relaxed, massively confident and capable of rapid-fire tongue-twisters, but coolly laid-back and almost effortless at the same time".[1] Today it is one of the most critically and commercially lauded hip-hop/rap songs of all time. It is rated the 134th best song of all time by Acclaimedmusic.net, and the sixth best hip-hop/rap song,[21] and voted in a VH1 poll as the 13th best song of the 1990s.[22]

"Fuck wit Dre Day (and Everybody's Celebratin')" was released as the second single on May 20, 1993 and like the previous single, it was a hit on multiple charts. It reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and number six on the Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Singles & Tracks.[18] It sold over 500,000 units and the RIAA certified it Gold on October 8, 1993.[19] Allmusic writer Steve Huey stated that the song was "a classic hip-hop single", citing Dr. Dre's production as "impeccable as ever, uniting his signature whiny synth melodies with a halting, descending bass line, a booming snare, and soulful female vocals in the background"[15] and alluded to Snoop Dogg, stating "Attitude was something Snoop had by the boatload, his drawling, laid-back delivery projecting unassailable control it sounded lazy even though it wasn't, and that helped establish Snoop's don't-give-a-damn persona."[15] The track contains direct insults to rappers East coast rapper Tim Dog, 2 Live Crew member Luke, and Dre's former accomplice Eazy-E.

"Let Me Ride" was released as a cassette single on September 13, 1993.[23] It experienced moderate success on the charts, reaching number 34 on the Billboard Hot 100 and number three on the Hot Rap Singles.[18] The song won Dr. Dre Best Rap Solo Performance at the 1994 Grammy Awards.[24] On this song and "Nuthin but a "G" Thang", Time magazine noted that Dr. Dre's verses were delivered with a "hypnotically intimidating ease" and made the songs feel like "dusk on a wide-open L.A. boulevard, full of possibility and menace".[25]

Reception

Commercial performance

The album has sold over four and half million copies in the United States and over eight million worldwide,[1][26] and was certified triple Platinum by RIAA on November 3, 1993.[27] It is Dr. Dre's second best selling album, as his follow-up album, 2001, was certified sextuple Platinum.[28] The album first appeared on music charts in 1993, peaking on the Billboard 200 at number three, and peaking on Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums at number one.[29] The album's three singles became top ten Billboard singles.[30] "Nuthin' but a "G" Thang" peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 and at number one on both the Hot Rap Singles and Hot R&B Singles charts.[30] "Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')" became a top ten single on four different charts, including the Hot R&B Singles (number 6) and the Hot 100 (number 8).[30] The Chronic re-entered the charts in 2003, peaking on the Ireland Albums Top 75 at number 48, and on the U.K. Albums Top 75 in 2004 at number 43.[31]

Critical response

Despite some negative criticism towards its lyrical themes, The Chronic initially received positive reviews from most music critics. Rolling Stones Havelock Nelson gave it four out of five stars and wrote "The Chronic drops raw realism and pays tribute to hip-hop virtuosity."[14] Entertainment Weekly gave it an A+ rating and wrote that the album "storms with rage, strolls with confidence, and reverberates with a social realism that's often ugly and horrifying".[32] Chicago Tribune writer Greg Kot gave the album two-and-a-half out of four stars and commented that "Dre combines street potency with thuggish stupidity".[33] The Village Voices Robert Christgau gave it a C+ rating and called it "bad pop music".[34] Christgau wrote unfavorably of the album's lyrical content and described Dr. Dre's production and sound as "bell-bottoms-and-Afros music, its spiritual source the blaxploitation soundtrack, and what it promises above all is boom times for third-rate flautists sociopathic easy-listening".[34] USA Today gave it three-and-a-half of four stars and complimented Dr. Dre's performance, stating "Dre's prowess as beat-master and street preacher is undeniable".[35]

Retrospective reviews of the album were also positive. The New York Times writer Jon Pareles mentioned that The Chronic and Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle, "made the gangsta life sound like a party occasionally interrupted by gunplay".[10] Allmusic's Steve Huey compared Dr. Dre to his inspiration, George Clinton, stating "Dre's just as effortlessly funky, and he has a better feel for a hook, a knack that improbably landed gangsta rap on the pop charts".[4] Rhapsody writer Brolin Winning named the album as "an untouchable masterpiece of California Gangsta Rap" and that it had "track after track of G-Funk gems".[36] On Rolling Stones 500 Greatest Albums of All Time, it was noted that "Dre funked up the rhymes with a smooth bass-heavy production style and the laid-back delivery of then-unknown rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg."[26] Time magazine's Josh Tyrangiel states that Dr. Dre created "a sound that defined early 90's urban L.A. in the same way that Motown defined 60's Detroit".[25] In a retrospective review, Rolling Stone gave it 5 out of 5 stars and praised Snoop Dogg's contributions and Dr. Dre's production, stating "His 1992 solo smash The Chronic features system-busting Funkadelic beats designed to rumble your woofer while the matter-of-fact violence of the lyrics blows your smoke-filled mind".[37]

Accolades

In 1994, "Nuthin' but a "G" Thang" and "Let Me Ride" were nominated at the 36th Grammy Awards, with the latter winning Best Rap Solo Performance for Dr. Dre.[24] The Chronic was included in Vibe magazine's "100 Essential Albums of the 20th Century" and it was ranked at number six in their "Top 10 Rap Albums of All Time". Rolling Stone ranked it at number 137 on their list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.[26] The record ranked at number eight in Spin magazine's "90 Greatest Albums of the '90s" and in 2005, it was ranked at number thirty-five in their "100 Greatest Albums, 1985 2005". The Source magazine originally gave the album four and a half mics out of five[38] and it was added to The Source's 100 Best Rap Albums. It was later revealed that while everybody at the magazine knew it was an instant classic, the music editor at that time had a strict policy of staying away from a perfect rating.[39] In 2005, MTV Networks listed The Chronic as the third greatest hip hop album in history.[40] In 2006, Time magazine ranked it as one of the 100 greatest albums of all time[25] and it was listed in the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.[41] In a retrospective issue, XXL magazine awarded The Chronic a perfect "XXL" rating.[42]

Influence

Zig-Zag]] rolling papers with The Chronic album cover Having split from N.W.A, Dr. Dre's first solo album established him as one of the biggest hip hop stars of his era.[3] Yahoo! Music writer S.L. Duff wrote of the album's impact on his status in hip hop at the time, stating "Dre's considerable reputation is based on this release, alongside his production technique on Snoop's Doggy Style and his early work with N.W.A. Whatever one thinks of the over-the-top bravado rapping, the tracks and beats Dre assembled are beyond reproach".[43] The Chronic brought G-funk to the mainstream a genre defined by slow bass beats and melodic synthesizers, topped by P-Funk samples, female vocals, and a laconic, laid-back lyrical delivery referred to as a "lazy drawl". The album takes its name from a slang term for premium grade cannabis, Chronic. The album cover is an homage to Zig-Zag rolling papers.[3]

The album launched the careers of West Coast hip hop artists, including Snoop Doggy Dogg, Daz Dillinger, Kurupt, Nate Dogg, and Warren G, Dr. Dre's stepbrother all of whom pursued successful commercial careers.[3] The Chronic is widely regarded as the album that re-defined West Coast hip hop,[4] demonstrated gangsta rap's commercial potential as a multi-platinum commodity, and established G-funk as the most popular sound in hip hop music for several years after its release, with Dr. Dre producing major albums that drew heavily on his production style.[6] The album's success established Death Row Records as a dominant force in 1990s hip hop.[6] It has been re-released 3 times, first as a remastered CD, then as a remastered DualDisc with enhanced stereo and four videos, and in 2009 as "The Chronic Re-Lit" with a bonus DVD containing a 30 minute interview and 7 unreleased tracks.[4] The singles "Fuck wit Dre Day" and "Nuthin' but a "G" Thang" are in best-selling video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas[44][45] on the fictional radio station Radio Los Santos.[46] The senior Vice President of Death Row Records, John Payne, recently came out to say that the album would be re-issued as The Chronic Relit.[47] Payne stated "It will be remastered with a couple more songs that were done at that same time as well as a lot of footage and artwork. We re remastering it so that it works with today s technology, but we re not changing the mixes or doing anything like that."[47]

Track listing

# Title Songwriter(s)[48] Performer(s) Samples[48] Length
1 "The Chronic" (Intro) Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, Colin Wolfe 1:57
2 "Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')" Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg, Colin Wolfe
  • First verse: Dr. Dre
  • Second verse: Snoop Dogg
  • Interlude: RBX
  • Third verse: Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre
  • Outro: Snoop Dogg
  • Outro vocals: Jewell
4:52
3 "Let Me Ride" Dr. Dre, RBX, Snoop Dogg
  • Verses: Dr. Dre
  • Refrain: Snoop Dogg
  • Vocals: Ruben, Jewell
4:21
4 "The Day the Niggaz Took Over" Dr. Dre, RBX, Snoop Dogg, Dat Nigga Daz
  • Chorus: Snoop Dogg, RBX
  • First verse: Dat Nigga Daz
  • Second verse: Dr. Dre
  • Third verse: RBX
  • Fourth verse: Dat Nigga Daz
  • Outro: Snoop Dogg
  • Samples LA uprising documentary "Birth of a Nation 4x29x92" (directed by Matthew McDaniels)
  • "Love's Gonna Get'cha (Material Love)" by Boogie Down Productions
4:33
5 "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre
  • Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg
3:58
6 "Deeez Nuuuts" Dr. Dre, Dat Nigga Daz, Snoop Dogg, Colin Wolfe, Nate Dogg
  • Intro: Warren G
  • Chorus: Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre
  • First verse: Dr. Dre
  • Second verse: Dat Nigga Daz
  • Third verse: Dr. Dre
  • Outro: Nate Dogg
5:06
7 "Lil' Ghetto Boy" Snoop Dogg, D.O.C., Dr. Dre
  • First verse: Snoop Dogg
  • Second verse: Dr. Dre
  • Third verse: Snoop Dogg
  • Backing vocals: Dat Nigga Daz
  • Hook: Nate Dogg
5:27
8 "A Nigga Witta Gun" D.O.C., Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre
  • Dr. Dre
3:53
9 "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat" Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg
  • Intro: RBX
  • Verses: Dr. Dre
  • Chorus: Snoop Dogg, BJ
  • Outro: Snoop Dogg
3:48
10 "The $20 Sack Pyramid" (Skit) D.O.C., Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre
  • Intro: Dr. Dre
  • Vocals: Snoop Dogg, Samara
  • Show host: Big Tittie Nickie
  • Contestant 1: The D.O.C.
  • Contestant 2: Samara
2:53
11 "Lyrical Gangbang" Kurupt, RBX, The Lady of Rage, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, D.O.C. 4:04
12 "High Powered" Dr. Dre, RBX, Colin Wolfe
  • Intro: Dr. Dre
  • Backing vocals: Lady of Rage
  • Verses: RBX
  • Outro: Dat Nigga Daz
  • "Buffalo Gals" by Malcolm McLaren
2:44
13 "The Doctor's Office" (Skit) Dr. Dre, Kevin Lewis, Jewell, The Lady of Rage
  • Jewell, The Lady of Rage, Dr. Dre
1:04
14 "Stranded on Death Row" Kurupt, RBX, The Lady of Rage, Snoop Dogg
  • Intro: Bushwick Bill
  • First verse: Kurupt
  • Second verse: RBX
  • Third verse: The Lady of Rage
  • Fourth verse: Snoop Dogg
  • Outro: Bushwick Bill
4:47
15 "The Roach" (The Chronic Outro) RBX, The Lady of Rage, Dat Nigga Daz
  • Verses: RBX
  • Chorus: Emmage, Ruben
  • Backing vocals: Dat Nigga Daz, The Lady of Rage, Jewell
4:36
16 "Bitches Ain't Shit" Dr. Dre, Colin Wolfe, Snoop Dogg, D.O.C., Kurupt, Dat Nigga Daz
  • Chorus: Snoop Dogg
  • First verse: Dr. Dre
  • Second verse: Dat Nigga Daz
  • Third verse: Kurupt
  • Fourth verse: Snoop Dogg
  • Outro: Jewell
  • "Adolescent Funk" by Funkadelic
  • "Let's Get Small" by Trouble Funk
4:48

Chart history

Charts[29][31] Peak
position
Ireland Albums Top 75 48
U.K. Albums Top 75 43
U.S. Billboard 200 3
U.S. Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums 1
U.S. Top Indie Albums[49] 1

Personnel

See also

Notes

References

External links

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