Why Dr. Dre's ''Detox'' HAS To Be A Classic
05:00PM ET September 9th, 2010
Contributor: Mathis Bauchner
A Rocky Williform Company
Living legends are hard to come by, but if anyone has the credentials it’s Dr. Dre. One of the most influential artists of all time, Dre has revolutionized hip-hop three times over, first introducing gangster rap to the mainstream in the late 80’s as part of the legendary group N.W.A. Dre's solo debut and masterpiece, The Chronic, released in 1992, gave birth to the G-funk sound that permeated the West Coast and kickstarted the two-year dominance of Los Angeles-based hip hop in the 1990’s. Dr. Dre can be considered the man who introduced two West Coast legends, Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg, to the masses.
In 1996 he founded Aftermath Entertainment and in the years that followed helped his protégés, Eminem and 50 Cent, blossom into two of the highest selling musicians of the new millennium. Amidst all this he released his second solo effort, 2001, in 1999, arguably the West Coast’s last truly great album.
But that was eleven years ago, and since then listeners, (not excluding this writer), have been waiting with tremendous patience for a follow-up. Whispers about the album date back to 2003, and its title, Detox, has been floating around for just as long. Countless news stories have been written about it, and dozens of rappers and producers claim to have spent time in the studio working with Dre. Back in 2004, frequent co-producer Scott Storch told MTV that Detox was “the most advanced rap album musically and lyrically we'll probably ever have a chance to listen to.” But in years that followed not a single track was heard. The album became something of a myth.
That all changed this past June, when an unmastered, chorus-less version of the album’s first single, “Under Pressure,” leaked and the hip-hop world lost its collective mind. The song itself is fantastic, featuring a punchline-riddled verse by Jay-Z and an otherworldly beat worthy of an eleven wait. Fans everywhere rejoiced. Finally there was solid evidence that rap’s greatest myth might actually be a reality.
So why this level of excitement? Why the prolonged hype? In this day and age listeners forget an artist as soon as their single falls off the charts, yet somehow Dr. Dre has managed to maintain a stranglehold on the interest of hip-hop fans across the globe.
The reason for this is simple. The man has had a practically perfect career. He’s never underwhelmed his audience, never disappointed listeners with a subpar effort. His resume is unmatched by any artist past or present. Between his own iconic material and the extraordinary production he’s done for other artists, Dre has remained relevant for nearly twenty-five years. He’s the Bill Russell of hip-hop, perhaps not the greatest to ever do it, but certainly the most consistently great.
So let’s get one thing straight, Detox will be nothing short of a classic. Dre won’t release it if it isn’t. He’d rather keep fans waiting another decade than put out an album that fails to live up to expectations, and not those of listeners or critics but his own. Because as great as the hip-hop world thinks Detox will be, Dr. Dre thinks it will be better. He’s a perfectionist in the truest sense of the word, especially when it comes to his own work. There’s a reason why he’s only released two solo albums in his twenty-plus year career. And there’s also a reason why they’re two of the most influential albums in hip-hop history. Dre will accept nothing less.
But perhaps these outsized expectations are a curse. Perhaps they’ve kept Dre trapped in the studio all these years, trying madly to craft a masterpiece worthy of completing his trilogy, refusing to be satisfied with anything short of perfection. However, if “Under Pressure” is any indication, he may finally be ready, but then again maybe not. It’s September already and a finalized version of the song has yet to emerge. So for now the rumors continue. Some say Detox will be out by the end of 2010, some say never. Either way, it’s classic or bust. And for that, fans will continue to wait. Patiently I might add.