2001 (Instrumental)

2001 (Instrumental)

Listening to the instrumental version of 1999’s 2001, Dr. Dre’s triumphant return to rap after years out of the public eye, emphasizes how substantially the rapper-producer revitalized his classic production sound for his grand comeback. The beats on the LP recall the swaggering G-funk stylings of the 1992 tour de force The Chronic, Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle of 1993, and other classic Dre production turns. But instead of sunshine and hydraulic cars, 2001’s leaner and eerier beats evoke darker scenes. The record sustains a noir affect, employing more futuristic synth sounds and a dense, colorful compendium of samples. Even more than Dre’s slick Chronic productions—with their wheedling synth leads and soulful flourishes—2001’s beats thrive on space. The production here, handled almost entirely by Dre and Mel-Man, is open enough to make room for the more verbose and chaotic flows of younger rappers like Xzibit and Eminem. Album opener “The Watcher” introduces us to this world, with subterranean horn synths functioning as sparse bass punctuation, targeting the trunk-rattling frequencies. Scott Storch’s beat for “Still D.R.E.” is inimitable—all stark piano plinks, with bass, kick, and subtle string surges providing emphasis. The album also contains some of the most creative sampling of Dre’s career, finding the producer and Mel-Man going off on crate-digger tangents. Many standout moments—like the wiry, seductive guitar line in “Xxplosive”—feel spiritually of a piece with Dre’s early work. Other highlights like “What’s The Difference” feel less intuitive but even more exciting, deriving a singular, slightly kitschy sense of drama from catchy oompah horns pulled from a French crooner record (Charles Aznavour's "Parce que tu crois"). The record’s towering sampling achievement, perhaps, is the use of the mystical orchestral swells and skeletal surf guitar motifs in “The Next Episode.” The clip is borrowed from “The Edge,” a 1967 track by David McCallum, produced and arranged by crate-digger favorite David Axelrod.

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