To coincide with the release of the biopic “Straight Outta Compton,” Dr. Dre released his heavily anticipated third studio album, “Compton,” on Aug. 7, with just a week’s notice. While the production is superb, the album proves to be largely forgettable.
Since his debut album “The Chronic” in 1992, Dre has had an unmistakable slower, West-Coast sound throughout his career. But this is not “The Chronic,” as Dre has produced something more dizzying and modern with “Compton.” There are layers of instruments upon instruments, with the rappers almost battling with the beat to be heard. The use of sound effects, such as small things like an alarm going off, beeps or birds chirping, goes a long way to help the ever-changing moods. The beats are alive, changing and shifting tones and rhythm seamlessly. It’s a shame the verses are not as impressive.
Nearly every track on “Compton” has multiple guests on it; however, most are easily forgotten. The best prove to be Dre’s frequent collaborators throughout the years. Snoop Dogg sounds inspired on “One Shot One Kill,” illustrating his decades-old relationship with Dre. Kendrick Lamar is customarily excellent. Dre’s verses are nothing special, as he largely raps about his fame and money, which gets old really quickly. But the presence of musical guests keeps the tracks from getting too stale.
Eminem manages to steal the show on “Medicine Man,” which is easily the best track on the album. He raps as though he has something to prove, moving at a blistering pace. Dre matches him on the production side, getting a bit darker and a bit quieter to let Eminem shine. The album could use more of this electricity to mesh with Dre’s solid work behind the verses.
“Compton” is unfortunately very lackluster. The production is a welcome change for Dre as he has evolved in 2015, but the rest of the record never keeps up with him, since the guests fail to consistently match the energy Dre creates. Ultimately, the verses are not as gripping or contemporary as they need to be to keep up with the 50-year-old hip-hop legend.