The Chronic

The Chronic

100 Best Albums It isn’t long into Dr. Dre’s Death Row Records debut that a then-promising MC named Snoop Doggy Dogg draws a hard line in the sand. “Oh, yeah, PS, fuck Mr. Roarke and Tattoo, AKA Jerry and Eazy,” Snoop says towards the end of “The Chronic (Intro).” “Sincerely yours, these motherfuckin' nuts.” In standing with Dre, newly freed from what the producer and MC saw as an exploitative Ruthless Records deal—one for which he blamed former N.W.A. groupmate Eazy-E and business partner Jerry Heller—Snoop wanted to be crystal clear about where his alliance lay. “I don't love Eazy, I don't love Jerry, I don't love Ruthless Records,” he continued. “Frankly, I don't love nothin' they got to do with.” And this before anyone on the album spits a single bar. Dr. Dre’s The Chronic is a record powered in equal parts by weed, vitriol, and G-funk, a West Coast hip-hop subgenre that Dre founded by way of optimizing some of the funkiest and most innovative sounds of his adolescence and young adulthood. The album contains samples from Parliament, George Clinton, James Brown, Led Zeppelin, Gil Scott-Heron, Bill Withers, and Malcolm McLaren, to name but a few of the universally recognized innovators and geniuses from whom Dre borrowed inspiration. And atop their rejiggered masterpieces? A bevy of then still-bubbling yet incomparably talented MCs who, in that moment, shared an insatiable hunger to make a name for themselves in rap. Among them were as-yet-unproven versions of Nate Dogg, Kurupt, Daz Dillinger, Warren G, The Lady of Rage, and, of course, a young Snoop Dogg, who authored so many of the album’s verses—his and other people’s—that he’d wonder, in conversation with fellow onetime Death Row signee Crooked I some decades removed from the album’s creation, “How the fuck was I on damn near every song?” The answer can be found in just about any verse he can be heard spitting on the album. The Dogg simply had what it took. The Chronic, in fact, would set the tone for Death Row Records as an incubator—and more notoriously, the inevitable saboteur—of some of the most memorable talents in Los Angeles street rap history. And street rap is exactly and exclusively what you find herein. The album, named for a high-grade marijuana of its time, contains a multitude of disses for both Eazy-E and Heller—and also Luke Campbell, Tim Dog, and Ice Cube—disseminated within fiercely competitive posse cuts (“Deeez Nuuuts,” “Lyrical Gangbang,” “Stranded on Death Row”), vivid depictions of the lives of young hustlers (“Let Me Ride,” “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang,” “Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat”), and a handful of ruminations on the perils of street life and also solidarity in the Black community (“Lil’ Ghetto Boy,” “A N***a Witta Gun,” “The Day the N****z Took Over”). All of which is not to mention an undeniably healthy dose of misogyny (“Bitches Ain’t Shit,” etc.). But The Chronic was then, and is still, everything the legendary Death Row Records would become known for—god-tier street rap as orchestrated by the label’s onetime golden goose, the incomparable Dr. Dre.

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