Dr. Dre
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Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre

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The morning of August 1st, I received a highly out-of-place text message written in frantic capital letters.


My initial reaction was flippant dismissal and a quick roll of the eyes; there had been speculation about a new Dr. Dre album for years, and surely there would be weeks of promotion and excitement before his long-awaited project was released to the clamoring masses. Ever since Dr. Dre decided to scrap Detox, the general consensus had been that the legendary producer was done working on solo projects forever. The rest of the hip hop community and I had reached a sad acceptance of the fact that Dr. Dre would never resurface with a new project.

A quick scroll through my Twitter feed, however, proved my suspicions wrong. The album was, in fact, real. 

And not only is the album real, it is excellent. Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre is a far better product than the hip hop community ever could have expected from the reluctant, reclusive legend. For an artist so hesitant to release music, Dr. Dre injects a surprising amount of passion and energy into the project. Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre, is a gritty, vibrant and multi-faceted collection of the sounds of its namesake.

Drawing upon several decades worth of music from one of hip hop's most historically influential cities for inspiration, Dr. Dre and his stacked team of collaborators are able to capture the essence of Compton in a cohesive, hour-long body of work. In order to do the city's rich, far-reaching history justice, Dr. Dre enlists the city's most powerful voices, both young and old, to lay verses on the soundtrack. He also makes a point of including the voices of hip hop's most promising up-and-comers such as Justus and Anderson .Paak. This diverse cast of characters allows the album to be referential of the past while simultaneously moving into uncharted contemporary territories.

The compilation-style organization of the album creates an integral communal feel. This element of inclusion does not, however, erase Dr. Dre's fingerprint from the album at all. Even when Dr. Dre does not appear on a track, his creative influence is immediately present. 

In terms of production, the album features the brass and piano heavy soundscapes that belong unequivocally to the West Coast. These velvety tones are paired with springy percussion and lilting melody lines that offset the moodiness of the darker sonic elements. The brilliant combination of moodiness, playfulness, a splash of jazz's funkiness wraps the album's wide range of influences into one comprehensive sonic package.

Although Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre is not the official soundtrack of the critically acclaimed NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton, it is widely regarded as a key supplement to the movie. His heavy involvement with the making of the biopic served as a primary inspiration for the creation of the album.

"During principal photography of Straight Outta Compton, I felt myself going to the studio and being so inspired by the movie that I started recording an album," Dr. Dre explained on his Beats 1 radio show, The Pharmacy. "It's an 'inspired by' album."

Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre serves equally well as a soundtrack for Straight Outta Compton as it does for the city itself.

Although the hip hop community is sad that Compton: A Soundtrack by Dr. Dre is the influential artist's final studio release, we can find solace in the fact that the album is a triumphant, well-composed "grand finale" to one of hip hop's most impressive catalogs.