Producer legend with movie soundtrack...
Observers claim the late Miles Davis changed the course of jazz three times. Well, Andre Young, aka Dr Dre, has re-invented its present-day equivalent, hiphop, in the same manner. As a member and beatmaker with NWA, circa ‘Straight Outta Compton’, he was responsible for the introduction of graphic street reportage and gratuitous swearing into what was once a well-policed genre. As the main house producer for Suge Knight’s controversial Death Row Records, he also fashioned and perfected the highly influential West Coast G-Funk style. And as a name brand solo artist, who released ‘The Chronic 2001’ two years ago, he has instigated another revolution in hiphop, with bass-heavy minimalist electronic symphonies.
‘The Wash’ isn’t actually Dr Dre‘s next solo LP, more a movie soundtrack compilation mainly produced by him, and an opportunity to inflict some new artists on the public. As could be expected, though, the standard is higher than the usual Hollywood tie-ins. There are the sonics, as well, a smoggy heathaze concoction of beats, electronic detritus and synthetic funk, that suggests sunny California and hints at danger. Maybe it’s all to do with the strength of ‘the chronic’. But judging from Dre‘s work ethic, probably not. What’s certain is that gangsta tactics have been shelved in favour of relaxed fun, however offensive.
‘On The Boulevard’ and the title track feature Dreand Snoop Dogg with now familiar rap flows, but the latter is distinguished by a spooked-out backing track that echoes the ’70s blaxploitation era, while the former is graced by an insistent pounding funk clatter. Then you have Busta Rhymes eerie ‘Holla’, complete with Eastern modalities; Shaunta’s two feisty, sexually-charged R&B rap hybrids; Bubba Sparxxx’s strange redneck rants; and most ridiculously of all, Xzibit‘s ‘Get Fucked Up With Me’, in which our man drinks and smokes his way through the track, Alkaholics style.
It’s Dre‘s day, overall, though. He could probably churn out tracks in his sleep, for a suitably hefty fee, but he’s got a reputation to protect – and so stretches himself.