Why Compton Is A 5 Mic Classic

Posted On Wednesday, August 19, 2015

My dude hit me the other day and asked me what I thought about Dre's new album "Compton" and I told him with no hesitation that it's a 5 mic classic and dude damn near lost his mind! It seems that the consensus on the album so far from most folk I chop it up with is that it's a "good" 3 1/2 mic album which I think is absolutely CRAZY but to each his own. So of course my man wanted me to break down how in the world did I think this album is a 5 mic classic. And anybody who knows me knows that I breakdown stuff in ways most folk have never even thought to do and I do it with my eyes closed. So why and how the hell is "Compton" a 5 mic classic? Easy...it just is.

First, lets start off with where I think a lot of folk get lost when it comes to damn near everything in life...and that's your expectations. See, for me coming into "Compton" the only expectation I had was that it was going to sound incredible. Even if I didn't like the songs or the MC's I KNEW without a shadow of a doubt that it would be engineered incredibly and that the sound would be BONKERS! And that was it. With me, Dre truly had a blank canvas but I think a lot of other folk came in with not only high expectations but expectations of "Compton" sounding like "The Chronic" or "2001" which to me is crazy cause that was over 20+ years ago. I remember back in '08 when Jake One's "White Van Music" dropped and my dude Mills called me asking what I thought. I was like "it's cool but it's no Soul Survivor." He was like "how are you holding Jake One to Pete Rock status?" My thing was "you're a producer making a producer album and Pete holds the standard for me in that category so I'm gonna compare everything to that." Mills was like "well you might as well stop listening to hip hop if you're gonna compare everything that drops now to what came out 10-20 years ago cause it's never gonna be better then that." And you know what? He was 100% right. I always thought I'd be dumbing down my style if I didn't compare the new stuff to the classics. But what Mills help me realize was it's not about dumbing down but it's about accepting good music that drops now for what it is. And once I really grasped that theory, "White Van Music" became one of my fav producer albums. Is it better then Pete's "Soul Survivor?" No. But guess what? It doesn't need to be better in order for it to be a very dope album. And I know I'm not the only hip hop purist out here that's doing the very same thing I was doing for years. And when I hear things like "it's not as good as 2001 or the Chronic" that's let me know that folk are stuck. And just because it isn't better then "The Chronic" doesn't mean that this album isn't incredible standing all by itself.

So, now that we had those dreaded expectations out the window let's get down to why I LOVE "Compton" so much. Let's start with the bare basic of what is a lost art in the 2000's and that's how to make a complete album. I'm talking about how to set an album off, the sequencing and ending the album on a dope note and not boring me half to death halfway through. I can't begin to tell you how many albums I've heard over the past 15 years that start off real dope but by the time I get to song 8, I'm bored out my mind like I'm sitting in a movie like "when does this thing end? Damn, we've got another 20 minutes left?" And I'm talking albums from YA'LL favorite rappers who ya'll be throwing 5 mics at like it's nuthin! But from the second I heard "Talk About It" "Compton" had me and I haven't looked back. To the point that I listened to the album for the next 5 hours straight. So get your calculators out. So the album clocks in at 1 hour so I started streaming it at 8:30pm and stopped around 1:30am. Then came back to listen to it again at 4am before I went to bed and haven't stopped listening to it since. Wanna know the last time something like that's happened? I'm not 100% proof positive when but I can tell you it hasn't happened since Y2K. There's not one boring moment on this album where I wanna skip a song (for the exception of "Satisfiction") and when "Talking To My Diary" drops I'm ready to listen to it all over again. My man Jason hit me 3 days after it dropped asking me what were my 2 favorite songs. I told him today it's "It's All On Me" and "Talking To My Diary." But if you ask me tomorrow it could be "Deep Waters" and "Loose Cannons." The next day it could be "Talk To Me" and "One Shot Kill." Now almost 2 weeks after it dropped, my 2 favorites are "All In A Days Work" and "For the Love of Money." And one of the key reason that my favorite songs can change on the daily and that I can't put this album down is because it's sequenced PERFECTLY.  Now, I double dog dare ya'll "Compton" doubters to find me an album that even comes close to being sequenced this damn good over the last 10+ years. Yeah, I'll wait...

Next up, let's check out the MC's. I won't front when I saw all of these new names like King Mez, Jon Connors, Anderson Paak and Justus mixed in with a bunch of old names like Cube, Xzibit, Cold 187, Eminem, Snoop with a bunch of singers Jill Scott, Marsha Ambrosious, BJ the Chicago Kid and Candice Pillay I didn't know what the hell to expect. But I can say this, every single person who contributed to this album held their own and all of the pieces fit into the puzzle of "Compton" perfectly. For me, every MC did the damn thing. Whether it was Mez's verse on "Talk About It","what the fuck was ya'll thinking, you let the wrong young nigga link with a legend/lotta new niggas talking crazy on records, I'm the only king here, you can tell em that I said it/I'm the black Eminem, I'm the humbler 50, I'm D.O.C. who can do it better/nobody fucking with me/I murder rappers everyday til the police come and get me/and Dre just come and bail me out and then we hit the studio" or Jon Connors verse on "One Shot Kill", "I told my city hold me down now look how high they hold me up" both dudes did their thing. Hell, I haven't heard Xzibit sound this good since he started hosting "Pimp My Ride." And Game's verse on "Just Another Day" could very well be this nigga's best verse ever! I heard some folk here and there saying there was too much singing on the album but I feel like all of the singing had a place and wasn't forced like most singing in hip hop is which is to 9 times outta 10 to get airplay.

And even though we all know Dre didn't write any of the rhymes, he sure as hell sounds dope spitting throughout the whole album! If having a ghostwriter means you're an actor on the set reading lines someone else wrote, then Dre is mos def Denzel on "Compton." Now, I know some of my peoples were saying they weren't feeling the lyrics because the MC's weren't "saying anything." But my question is what did you expect them to be saying? Something positive? About Compton? Not too much positive to say on that topic. Not to mention Dre already told us this was the soundtrack to the "Straight Outta Compton" which is a movie based on...you guessed it, gangsta rap! And the crazy thing to me is I don't get a "gangsta rap" feel from this album like that. Could they have left out the ending of "Issues" where they kill the girl? No doubt. I actually felt like that was the one part of the album where they were trying to do some "gangsta rap" ish when they didn't need to. But then you've got "Animals" where Dre and Anderson Paak are addressing the Baltimore Riots while "Deep Waters" using the line "I can't breath" to shine some light on the death of Trayvon Martin. My dude Nick said his concern was how was a 50 year old gangsta rapper sound on the mic and to be honest I think Dre sounded more on point then he ever has. Was he telling chicks to turn around and bend it over? Yup. But I didn't know at 50 you're not supposed to wanna see a fat ass anymore. Maybe I'll get that memo the closer I get to 49. But then you've also got Dre rhyming about some grown man ish about how everybody needs something from him on "It's All On Me", how hard he has to work to make it happen with "All In A Day's Work" and the history of how he got in the game "Talking To My Diary" which are all incredible dope tracks to me. Now, I will admit that even though these MC's held it down on these tracks, that I'm not waiting for that new Jon Connor or King Mez album at all. Which is a lil bit of a letdown because we've all been spoiled by Dre introducing us to that next nasty MC (Cube, DOC, Snoop, Eminem, etc.) but the ill thing is Dre may have not introduced us to the next MC but he has put us all on to the next ill singer in Anderson Paak. If anybody is truly the star of "Compton" it's easily dude.

But back to the issue of the MC's not saying anything...the crazy part for me is in the same moment of "Compton" dropping we lost one of my fav MC's Sean Price who would tell you in a second that he don't rhyme about shit. So it's bugged to see 4,278 tweets over a 3 day period talking about how Sean P was the illest, etc. etc. but then to see just as many tweets about these MC's on "Compton" aren't saying anything. Did Sean P get a pass to just rhyme about nothing for 10+ years? And if so, I get it. Cause Pusha T sure as hell gets a pass from me to rhyme about drugs all he wants but then we turn around and don't give MC such a such the same pass. So I guess Sean P got the pass and Dre doesn't...cool, I get it. I'll just need some of my twitter followers to hit me up with their list of MC's who get passes so I'll know how to play my cards in the future.

Next up, lets tackle these beats that are just flat out BANANAS! Again, from beginning to end each one of these beats ('cept "Satisfiction" and "Medicine Men") are just stupid. From the low end of "Talk About It", "Genocide" and "Deep Water" to the samples on "It's All On Me" and "Talking To My Diary" to the live bass playing on "For the Love On Money", "Diary" and "All In A Days Work" (tell me those hihats that end "Work" and go into "Darkside" aren't stupid) to the Gang Starr "I'm the Man" and "Speak Your Clout" themed "Loose Cannon" with a different beat for each MC to spit on to the live strings on 187's part of "Loose Cannons." Not to mention the way Dre help produce the hell out the beat Primo made for "Animals" cause ya'll all know Primo is a 4 bar producer and there's absolutely no way "Animals" comes out sounding as dope and as big as it does without Dre. Come on....how the hell are ya'll frontin' on these beats? And to me the dopest things about these beats is that Dre took it back to the essence of boom bap. And that's one of the beefs I've had dude for years. Cause as much as I like "Forgot About Dre", "Still Dre" and "The Watcher" I LOVE "Xxxplosive" and "The Next Episode." I guess Dre got tired of being sued in the 90's so when the 2000's came around dude seemed to be anti sampling and became  REAL synth heavy and every Dre beat started getting stale to me. I knew the drum programming was gonna be basic, the snare was gonna be a loud clap and there were gonna be those damn pianos again. (see "Gone" for an example of what I'm talking about minus the clap) And I'm not saying some of those beats weren't dope but that formula started getting old to me real quick. But this go round with the help of Bink and Primo, Dre is back to diggin' in the crates and sampling again and the results are REAL dope! My dude Beezo always talks about that the "boom bap head nod" has been replaced with the "turn up bounce" but one of the things I dig about "Compton" is that there's a mixture of both cause there's absolutely no way you can't nod you head to "A Days Work", "All On Me", "Just Another Day" and "Diary" but then you'll definitely be bouncing on "For The Love of Money", "Medicine Men" and "Talk About It." The crazy thing is that I've seen cats on twitter talking about these beats are trash and who would believe Dre produced these. Word? Well, I'm dying for ya'll to please point me in the direction of what album you're bangin' where the beats are better then theses. Again, I'll wait...

So, there you have it. That's my explanation on why I believe in my heart of hearts that "Compton" is a 5 mic classic. Is it the "Chronic?" Nah...not at all. Is it "2001?" Nope. To be honest, I actually think it's better but that's just me tho. To me, when you're talking about classics you're talking about the sequencing (could you imagine "Illmatic" starting off with " One Love" instead  of "New York Sate of Mind" and ending with "One Time For Your Mind" instead of "It Ain't Hard To Tell?"), dope lyrics, dope beats and replay value. And while some of my peoples tell me they have to make themselves listen to this album, I'm the exact opposite in that I have to make myself stop listening to this album. In fact, I actually get hype to listen to "Compton." And again, I can't remember the last time I felt like that about an album. So, if cats think "Compton" is wack, ya'll might as well just kill yourselves because mark my words if THIS is a wack, trust me when I say you'll never hear another 5 mic album again. Cause who's gonna give you something better then this? Jay Z? Lil Wayne? Drake? Kweli? Common? That new Wu Tang album that's gonna cost $10,000,000? Action Bronson? Kendrick? J Cole? (until he starts getting some outside production he's truly incapable of making a classic) And in no way am I dissin' any of the MC's I just named, I'm just saying what most folk won't say and that's none of those dude I just named have it in 'em to make a classic or an album better then "Compton." But that's just me tho. Actually here's a better question, who do ya'll think is actually gonna make a 5 mic classic in today's hip hop climate that's gonna be better then "Compton?" Again, I'll wait...makes me no never mind. I've been waiting for a while anyway.

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