Who and what to listen for on Dr. Dre’s ‘Compton: A Soundtrack’: Eminem, Snoop Dogg and more
On Thursday night, Los Angeles rap kingmaker Dr. Dre unveils his first album in 16 years. Called “Compton,” the 16-track record is inspired by the highly anticipated N.W.A movie “Straight Outta Compton,” which hits theaters Aug. 14. Fans will first get a chance to hear the album via Apple Music from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., when it streams in its entirety before being released to the public soon thereafter.
The multi-platinum artist, producer, label chief and Beats Music co-founder Dr. Dre is responsible for one of the most influential sounds to ever roll out of Southern California. Just as important is his skill as a talent scout. Over the years he helped bring to the public artists including Snoop Dogg, 2Pac, Eminem, 50 Cent and the Game.
Needless to say, enthusiasm for the album is high. That’s especially true considering that on the production front he’s been relatively quiet over the last decade as he and Jimmy Iovine built the Beats empire. With the arrival of “Compton,” the rapper born Andre Young will issue his first major musical statement since 1999.
In the process, he will help introduce to the public a roster of upstarts including BJ the Chicago Kid, Anderson Paak and Jon Connor, and harness the proven power of Jill Scott, Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Xzibit -- to say nothing of actor and former N.W.A peer Ice Cube.
Below: a primer on the voices and producers that inhabit Dr. Dre’s new album.
Marsha Ambrosius. British singer Ambrosius got her start with the neo-soul group Floetry, signed as a solo artist to Dr. Dre’s Aftermath imprint in the late ‘00s, left the label a few years later and released her most recent album, “Friends & Lovers,” last year. The artist is better known for her searing vocal hooks on tracks by Nas, Jamie Foxx, Wale, Tyga, the Game and many others. Ambrosius appears on four “Compton” tracks: “Genocide,” “All in a Day’s Work,” “Darkside/Gone” and “Satisfaction.”
BJ the Chicago Kid. Known for his work with Schoolboy Q and Chance the Rapper, BJ the Chicago Kid is currently at work on his major label debut album after releasing several mixtapes, including 2014’s “The M.A.F.E. Project” and the 2012 independent album “Pineapple Now-Laters.” The magnetic singer did a searing performance at Mack Sennett Studios earlier in the year, teasing new tracks and confirming the buzz. Dre uses him on “Compton” for “It’s All on Me.”
Bink. Producer Bink has been active for nearly two decades, and in that time has worked with Missy Elliott, Jay-Z, Nate Dogg, Rick Ross and dozens of others. Two prime productions? Kanye West’s “Devil in a New Dress” and two tracks on GZA’s “The Legend of Liquid Swords”: “Silent” and “Animal Planet.” His credit on “Compton” is for the track “It’s All on Me.”
Asia Bryant. Singer and songwriter Bryant has landed credits on songs by Ludacris, Killer Mike, Jennifer Lopez, Miley Cyrus. She gets her Dre break this year through the “Compton” track “Just Another Day,” which also features the Game.
Cardiak. Best known for his hard production work for rappers including Rick Ross, Lloyd Banks, Meek Mill and Young Jeezy, the New Jersey-raised producer Cardiak lands credit on two “Compton” tracks: “Deep Water” and “For the Love of Money.”
Cold 187um. A member of former Ruthless Records crew Above the Law, the rapper and producer born Gregory Hutchinson produced tracks for both Ruthless and, later, Suge Knight’s Death Row Records imprint. Under his Big Hutch moniker, Hutchinson has also toured with Insane Clown Posse. (Fun fact: He’s the nephew of soul singer Willie “The Mack” Hutch.) He’s on the “Compton” track “Loose Cannons.”
Jon Connor. Young Michigan rapper Connor is signed to Dre’s Aftermath Records, and has been working on his debut album. A 2014 recipient of XXL’s annual “freshman class” list of rising rappers, Connor is on the “Compton” tracks “One Shot One Kill” and “For the Love of Money.”
Dem Jointz. Producer Dwayne “Dem Jointz” Abernathy is best known for his production work for Rihanna, Christina Aguilera and Brandy. He earns production credits for “Compton” tracks “Genocide,” “Deep Water,” “Satisfiction,” “Medicine Man” and more.
DJ Dahi. Young Inglewood hitmaker DJ Dahi has produced for Dom Kennedy, Schoolboy Q and Casey Veggies, but to most he’ll forever be linked to his mesmerizing production of Kendrick Lamar’s breakout hit, “Money Trees,” from “Good Kid, M.A.A.D. City.” His “Compton” tracks: “Talk About It,” “All in a Day’s Work” and “Deep Water.”
DJ Premier. Co-founder of Gang Starr, genius boom-bap producer Premier has worked on so many brilliant tracks that it’s probably best just to peruse them at his discography page. For “Compton,” Premier works with Dre on the track “Animals,” which also features rapper Anderson Paak.
DJ Silk. Along with partner Mista Chock, DJ Silk is part of the Ginuwin Draftz production team. Both have long worked with Dr. Dre, and were connected to the now-aborted “Detox” album. The duo helped produce the last track on “Compton,” called “Talking to My Diary.”
Eminem. No introduction necessary. He appears on the “Compton” track “Medicine Man” in collaboration with Anderson Paak and Candice Pillay.
Focus. The Atlanta producer Focus had his first success working with Tricky Stewart on Sole’s “Skin Deep” in 1999. Since then he’s produced for artists including Beyoncé, Schoolboy Q, Christina Aguilera and 50 Cent.
The Game. Fellow Compton rapper the Game has long been a Dr. Dre collaborator, and is one of the producer’s most notable Aftermath signees. The Game gained fame through his breakout debut, “The Documentary,” and is set to release its 10th anniversary sequel, “The Documentary 2,” at the end of August. For Dre’s new record, he raps on “Just Another Day.”
Ice Cube. One of the founding members of N.W.A, the rapper and actor born O’Shea Jackson helped transform Southern California hip-hop. In the highly anticipated new collaboration with Dr. Dre, Cube performs on “Issues” alongside singer Anderson Paak.
Justus. The rapper born Justin Mohrle is going to get a huge bump from his work with Dre here. The artist came up in Dallas, but has relocated to Los Angeles to work with Dr. Dre on Justus’ debut album. He appears on the “Compton” tracks “Talk About It” and “It’s All on Me.”
Kendrick Lamar. The newly christened king of Compton hip-hop is the scene’s inheritor. Lamar’s recent album, “To Pimp a Butterfly,” takes Dr. Dre’s blueprint in miraculous new directions. His earlier work helped propel the Top Dawg Records empire, and along with it a Compton hip-hop renaissance. Lamar appears on the “Compton” tracks “Genocide,” “Darkside/Gone” and “Deep Water.”
King Mez. North Carolina upstart rapper Mez has dropped a few acclaimed mixtapes including his most recent, “Long Live the King,” but he’ll likely get a huge boost from his verses on “Compton,” which arrive during “Darkside/Gone,” “Satisfiction” and “Talk About It.”
Mista Choc. See DJ Silk above.
Anderson Paak. Ventura County-raised singer Paak is all over “Compton,” so much so that a few days ago the relative unknown posted a tweet that suggested vindication. “Oh they wanna take meetings now,” he wrote of the so-called Dr. Dre bump. Paak, whose “Cover Art” free EP offered his versions of songs by the Beatles, Neil Young, Postal Service and White Stripes, helps out on four “Compton” songs: “Medicine Man,” “Issues,” “Animals” and “All in a Day’s Work.”
Candice Pillay. South African singer Candice Pillay is best known for co-writing Rihanna’s “American Oxygen,” and released her debut album in January. For “Compton,” Dre recruited her to sing on tracks “Genocide” and “Medicine Man.”
Snoop Dogg. If you don’t know who Snoop is, you don’t care enough to have read this far.
Jill Scott. Scott’s new album is called “Woman,” and it’s a typically solid, effervescent soul record. The Philadelphia vocalist sings hooks on “For the Love of Money” on “Compton.”
Sly “Pyper” Jordan. Vocalist Jordan is best known for his deep-voiced work on “Kush,” Dr. Dre’s 2010 ode to weed. The singer has also worked with Eminem, Yelawolf and others. He appears on “Loose Cannons.”
Xzibit. Los Angeles rapper Xzibit has been rapping on record for 20 years, most notably for these purposes on Dr. Dre’s album “2001.” He was also the host of MTV’s series “Pimp My Ride” and has earned many notable credits as an actor. For “Compton,” Dre harnesses the rapper for “Loose Cannons.”
Follow Randall Roberts on Twitter: @liledit
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