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This or That: The Chronic Vs. Doggystyle

by Travis on February 9, 2009

Good morning, hopefully y’all had a great weekend. I drank entirely too much Saturday night and spent most of yesterday nursing a monster hangover. That should cure me from getting overly stupid again for another month or so.

With the onslaught of the crappiest holiday ever invented by mankind rapidly approaching us, no doubt the love songs will be blaring from everyones iPods, cars and home systems. What better way to catch up on some of the greatest love songs ever chosen by some of the best bloggers on the scene. “Where?” you ask yourself, why over at one of my favorite blogs of all-time, Souled On. The almighty Scholar has gotten us bloggers together and we’ve picked some of our all-time favorite love songs. Everyday, Scholar will post up another guest post from one of us. I actually think it’s Scholar’s way of getting out doing any post for a couple weeks, but it’s really ingenious either way. Yours truly contributed and my contribution was posted up yesterday. You can find out what some of my favorite love songs are and read me rant even more, just in case you don’t get enough of me already.

This or That

This week, we have two west coast classics squaring off against each other. Dr Dre’s The Chronic and Snoop’s Doggystyle. I’m tired of writing, so off we go…….

Dr. Dre – The Chronic

Ahhh, the good old days. Now before you get your panties in a bunch, saying to yourself, “That cot damn Travis talking about the good old days again,” just hear me out. Yes, I’m an old thirtysomethin, that lives in the past entirely too often, but for good reason. Best believe, we are all going to know the release date three months in advance before (if ever) Detox drops and we’ll probably be playing the leak a good month before it hits the stores. These days, a release such as The Chronic couldn’t sneak up on anyone like it did back in back in 1992. It was December of ’92 and I was out doing some Christmas shopping, and of course, that always required a trip to my local CD/Record shop, Five Mile Records. I remember it being a Saturday. I don’t remember why I didn’t hit the store up on Tuesday to check all the new releases, or maybe I did, but was in to early for all the new releases to be out, I really don’t remember. But imagine my surprise when I walked into my favorite store and saw The Chronic staring me in the eye. From what I remember, there really wasn’t a whole lot of pre-release hype surrounding the album. I’ve lost plenty of brain cells over the years, so maybe I’m just not remembering it right, but I remember being rather surprised finding the new Dr. Dre solo album staring at me in the eye. Yes, there was the “Deep Cover” release, which did get a lot of hip hop heads up in arms, but finding this caught me by surprise. There was also the “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” single that was out before the album dropped. I guess it was more that actual date the album dropped that the album itself coming, but I was still surprised.

In those days, I drove a old GMC Jimmy II (the smaller version) with the back full of speaker boxes and amps. I had it hooked up rather nice, and I remember popping the CD in the deck and when the rolling bass come thundering through the cab from “The Chronic (Intro)” and thinking I was one bad ass muthafucka rollin’ through the parking lot. I think its safe to say that one of the crowning achievements found on The Chronic is the quality of the beats and music. When I say quality, I don’t mean they sound tight. Of course they do, but I’m meaning the clarity of the actual music. Not often am I going to brag about the engineering of an album, although it’s an important aspect of a good album, but The Chronic was engineered beautifully. The bass is full of clarity, and it can make any shitty system sound good as it generally rolls beautifully as equally through a Radio Shack special or a Bose system. The highs are tight and crisp, the snares clap, the trade mark G-Funk shrills are neither annoying or ear shattering. If there is ever a class on engineering a hip hop album, this album should be the blue print.

I remember “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” hitting hard, with it’s thunderous claps and high synths. You could hear that song beat down the block from a few blocks away, and you heard that song a shit load that summer. The track itself is an undeniable hip hop classic. It’s a song that you will always remember defining a period of your life, as it does mine. The video added to the whole aura of the song’s vibe, which isn’t going to be found on any “after school specials”, there is a message there.

Okay, maybe the message is to drench snotty ass chicks with beer, but you can’t deny the video gives you a feeling, especially if you were into hip hop when it dropped.

As I’ve already said, musically The Chronic is amazing and both ground breaking and classic all in the same sense. It launched a whole shit load of copy cats and in some sense, ruined west coast hip hop for me with everyone riding the coat tails of the G-Funk sound. Yes, I’m aware that there is questions of whether or not Dre was the first to pioneer the sound. Some argue Above The Law’s Vocally Pimpin’ EP was the first to use the sound and even the Black Mafia Life, but its undeniable that it’s Dre’s sound that made it take off. The album just bangs, plain and simple. I’d play “Rat-tat-tat-tat” as loud as I can stand it, and it would shake my Jimmy down to it’s last bolt. “Lyrical Gangbang” was another one with it’s Led Zeppelin sample (the same used by the Bea
sties, and still one of my favorite drum breaks) that would announce your arrival to any event.

The Chronic wasn’t just known for it’s crisp and clear beats neither. With a plethora of MCs contributing to The Chronic, Dre’s lack of any presence on the mic was quickly forgotten as upstart and hungry MCs such as Lady of Rage, RBX, Kurupt, Daz and of course every bodies favorite tall skinny gangsta, Snoop Doggy Dogg. It’s not that Dre was a bad MC, but its clear he is like a pitcher taking swings in the batters box, his pre game practice was spent on making beats. He was entertaining, no doubt about it, as him and Snoop handle tracks such as “Fuck Wit’ Dre Day”, “Let Me Ride”, “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang”, and even holds down one of my favorite tracks “N—a Wit’ A Gun” by himself. With his lyrics written by either Snoop, DOC, or Kurupt, there was always some great lines in his rhymes. I remember having some beef with a former friend and would always spit the first rhyme of “Fuckin’ Wit Dre Day” to myself:

Yeah, Mista Busta, where the fuck ya at?
Can’t scrap a lick, so I know ya got your gat
Your dick on hard, from fuckin your road dogs
The hood you threw up with, niggaz you grew up with
Don’t even respect your ass
That’s why it’s time for the doctor, to check your ass, nigga
Used to be my homey, used to be my ace
Now I wanna slap the taste out yo mouth
Nigga bow down to the row
Fuckin me, now I’m fuckin you, little hoe
Oh, don’t think I forgot, let you slide
Let me ride, just another homicide
Yeah it’s me so I’ma talk on
Stompin on the ‘Eazy’est streets that you can walk on
So strap on your Compton hat, your locs
And watch your back cause you might get smoked, loc
And pass the bud, and stay low-key
B.G. cause you lost all your homey’s love
Now call it what you want to
You fucked wit me, now it’s a must that I fuck wit you

For a diss track, it was had everything that marks a good diss record, scathing lyrics, humor and a dope beat. Tim Dog, Eazy and Luke would feel the duo’s wrath as they had you going “oh shit” and laughing all at the same time. Toward the end of the album, it turns more into a posse record. It was the first time we heard the likes of Rage and RBX and others, so it was quickly forgotten that what started off as a Dr. Dre record quickly turned into a Dr. Dre and crew album. RBX got me pumped for any potential solo project when he dropped “High Powered”. The albums finale stay true to the old Ruthless Records practice of dropping an ill posse cut on an albums last track. Lady of Rage, Snoop and Kurupt all shined on the cut, all dropping memorable lines (especially Snoop) that still get recited line for line these days. A classic ending to a classic album.

You can’t say much bad about The Chronic. Sure, the topics being discussed were the typical gangsta fare of the day. Some of the skits, other than “The $20 Sack Pyramid” (which still makes me laugh to this day), were unnecessary like most skits are. To this day, I still skip past “Lil Ghetto Boy” and never play “The Chronic (Outro”, but despite those small missteps, I still give this album a five star rating. It’s a classic and the pinacle of the west coast’s legacy.

Snoop Doggy Dogg – Doggystyle

Unlike Dre’s The Chronic, Snoop’s debut opus, Doggystyle didn’t sneak up on anyone, myself included. The anticipation and expectations for Doggystyle was huge, with everyone clamoring for its release. Death Row was excellent at putting out dope lead singles to get heads amped up for an albums release, although they kinda dropped the ball with “Who Am I?” It’s a nice single, with an off the chain bass line and the video for the song was one that pretty high tech at time, with Snoop transforming into a dog and all that.

I still crack up at the “You don’t love me, you just love my doggstyle” line. For some reason, the last girl I said that too didn’t find it nearly as funny. Back to “Who Am I?”, the track made for a nice single. It’s a nice intro to Snoop as a solo artist, dropping dope rhymes in his smooth and precise flow. But one can’t help to think if “Gin & Juice” would have been a better choice for lead single as it’s really the signature song from Doggystyle. The vibe from “Gin & Juice” reminds me of “Let Me Ride”, in terms of style and sound, but better.

For me, it dropped on a Tuesday, right before Thanksgiving. A good friend and I skipped class to hit up The Record Exchange, another record store in our town, to buy it first thing in the morning. I remembered it snowed like a bitch the night
before and the roads were absolute shit, but it didn’t matter. We snatched it up and hopped into his ride, a little Chevy Cavalier with a pretty nice system in it as well. After the needless “Bathtub” intro, the deep groove of “G Funk Intro” kicked in and we were blessed by the rugged rhymes of the Lady of Rage. I’ve always considered the intro for the album one of the best found on any album, maybe even more than The Chronic’s intro which is nice in it’s own right. Rage sets the whole tone for the album and the beat just gets your juices flowing. From there, it only got better, as we both were big on “Gin & Juice”, which obviously was released as a single later. My favorite song in those early days with the album was “Tha Shiznit”, with it’s repetitive bass line and Snoop just running rampant on the lyrical tip.

Snoop Dogg on the mic i’m about as crazy as Biz
Markie, spark the, chronic bud real quick
And let me get into some fly gangsta shit
Yeah, I lay back, stay back in the cut
Niggaz try to play the D-O-G like a mutt
I got a little message, don’t try to see Snoop
I’m fin to fuck a bitch, what’s her name it’s Luke
You tried to see me, on the TV, youse a B.G.
D-O-double-G, yes I’ma O.G.
You can’t see my homey Dr. Dre
So what the fuck a nigga like you gotta say
Gotta take a trip to the MIA
And serve your ass with a motherfuckin AK
You, can’t, see, the D-O-double-G, cuz that be me
I’m servin um, swervin in the Coupe
The Lexus, flexes, from Long Beach to Texas
Sexist, hoes, they wanna get witht his
Cuz Snoop Dogg is the shit, beeeitch!

Going back and listening to this track, makes me realize just how great Snoop was on the MC tip. His flow as flawless, that smooth gangsta drawl is just nearly perfect. I’ve never been a big fan of artists remaking classic hip hop track, and Snoop might have very well pioneered this practice with the remake of “Lodi Dodi”. It did expose the Slick Rick and Doug E Fresh track to a legion of new kids that may have not originally heard it before. Then again, I remember listening to the original version once and some kid coming up asking who these fools were that ripped off Snoop. I had a hellva time trying to convince him that it was Snoop that was remaking the track. He did a nice job on the track, although I’ve never been overly crazy about the beat for it.

For me, the album really takes off on the second half of Doggystyle, which also happens to be like The Chronic in the sense it’s mostly a bunch of posse cuts in a sense, but they are all so dope. The most memorable and sing-a-long tracks were songs like “For All My Ni—z & Bitches” or the incredibly infectious “Ain’t No Fun”, with it’s smooth sultry x-rated vibes. I can’t count all the times me and friends would be blaring out this song on a road trip or something. It was a small glimpse of what was 213, the trio of Snoop, Warren G and Nate Dogg. I still like to forget that album they dropped as a group and listen to “Ain’t No Fun”.

While I think Doggystyle is a great album, to me it does have it’s weaknesses. It’s no secret that the album was rushed and judging by Dre’s work record, we probably would’ve gotten the final Dre approved product sometime around 2001 with his other solo album. Despite, the rushed feeling, some tracks just don’t measure up to some of the material found on The Chronic.

Final Verdict

You gotta love both albums, even though in some ways I blame them for “ruining” the west coast scene for the next few years that still hasn’t bounced back. They just inspired waaaaay too many biters and copy cats. Both albums will always be soundtracks to a certain period in my life and for that reason, they will always have a place in my iPod, CD case, whatever I am carrying. If I had to choose one of the other (which is the purpose of this post), I just have to say that The Chronic is a more complete and throurough album.

Winner: The Chronic

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