Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Dr. Dre

  • The Chronic [Interscope, 1992] C+
  • Dr. Dre -- 2001 [Aftermath/Interscope, 2000] C

Consumer Guide Reviews:

The Chronic [Interscope, 1992]
The crucial innovation of this benchmark album isn't its conscienceless naturalization of casual violence. It's Dre's escape from sampling. Other rappers, as they are called, have promised to create their own musical environments, usually without revealing how much art and how much publishing fuels their creative resolve. But Dre is the first to make the fantasy pay out big-time. The world he hears in his head isn't the up-to-date P-Funk fools say they hear--that would be too hard. Instead he lays bassline readymades under simulations of Bernie Worrell's high keyb sustain, a basically irritating sound that in context always signified fantasy, not reality--stoned self-loss or, at a best Dre never approaches, grandiose jive. This is 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. Even if it's "just pop music," as some rationalize, it's bad pop music. C+

Dr. Dre -- 2001 [Aftermath/Interscope, 2000]
It's a New Millennium, but he's Still S.L.I.M.E. How Eminem survived all the misogyny conditioning to grow into the sensitive spouse we know today I'll never understand. A "family man" when he's explaining why he fled the 'hood, on the very next track Dre drips contempt for the wife he's dogging and the other husbands' wives he's sodomizing--apparently because his real-life wife told him that would be commercial, rendering him a liar more ways than Eminem himself could comprehend. For an hour, with time out for some memorable Eminem tracks, Dre degrades women every way he can think of, all of which involve his dick ("the whole eight," as this master of poetic license puts it). Best friend S. Dogg, bad speller Kurupt, and Dat 'Ho Ms. Roq are among the hangers-on who'll take his (really Eminem's) money when (and if) he writes the check. And just when you thought it was safe to discard your vomit bag he goes out on a tearjerker about a dead homey. Wottan innovator. C