NWA and My 25 Favorite Dr. Dre Productions
When I made this NWA tribute piece, it got me to thinking about all of my favorite Dr.Dre produced tracks from over the years, so here is! What are your favorites???
1. Natural Born Killaz- Dr. Dre/Ice Cube; When Dre was white hot after The Chronic and Doggy Style, all us hip-hop nerds were wondering if he & Cube would ever reconcile. Not only did they get back together, they exceeded expectations with this murderous multi-layered track that not only returned Cube to angry-ass “Amerikkka’s Most Wanted” form, but also left everybody wondering what “Helter Skelter” would sound like. We are still wondering and will never know, but what we did get was in my opinion Doc’s greatest track.
2. After You Die- Rakim; I am a crusty old hip hop fart; that being said, after the deaths of Pac and Biggie, Rap music was struggling to fill their voids. None of the new guys (Jay-Z, Ja Rule, Lil’ Whoevers) were doing it for me. So when word leaked that Dre and Rakim had inked a deal to make an album, I was beyond stoked! The collabo album titled “Oh My God” much like “Helter Skelter” never came to fruition after creative differences surfaced between the two but this track is the ultimate “what could have been”. It’s that cinematic type of beat only Dre seems to attempt in Hip Hop with Rakim returning to his razor sharp best. Ra’s few contributions that surfaced on Aftermath were pretty stellar (obliterating Jay-Z on “The Watcher 2 and the Addictive Remix) but this shit was THE ONE! Unreleased, but a classic nonetheless.
3. Murder Was The Case- Snoop Doggy Dogg; As far as Dre’s cinematic Hip-Hop soundscape’s go, this one is my favorite. All the bells and whistles you could literally want and Snoop reflecting on how his skyrocketing career was nearly derailed right when it started.
4. Bitches Ain’t Shit- Dr.Dre; There have only been a handful of albums in my life that made me think as I was listening to them, “how tha fuck is each song better than the last??!” This track isn’t even in the liner notes on the original pressing but just when you think it’s over, the Dogg Pound delivers their best performance in overtime even after they were “en fuego” during regulation.
5. Straight Outta Compton- NWA; Title track that sets the whole tone of the album and also shows a change in direction for the type of sampling Dre would use in this album and everything up to “EFIL4ZAGGIN”. The remixes for 8-Ball and Dopeman are the last remnants of the old sound from the “Posse” album.
6. DOC and The Doctor- DOC; One of my favorite Funkadelic songs of all time (Good Ol Music) sampled to perfection by Dre on my favorite DOC track EVER!
7. Fuck The Police- NWA; The track that gave them the title “World’s Most Dangerous Group” by drawing the attention of the FBI and local police groups everywhere they performed. I can’t think of another track in the history of Rap that ever caused such a wave of negative criticisms and attention but would later be looked upon as prophetic in the wake of the Rodney King trial.
8. Appetite For Destruction- NWA; Somewhere between “100 Miles and Runnin’” and “EFIL4ZAGGIN”, Dre’s sound just changed stratospheres altogether and he brought a new level of clarity and composition to Hip Hop production that no one had even touched on before. Samples were used on “EFIL4ZAGGIN” but were no longer what made the beats bang, it was Doc’s signature punchy drums, sense of composition and flawless engineering that began to take shape. “Appetite” was my favorite of all those tracks on the album.
9. Lyrical Gangbang- Dr.Dre; The only dude who managed to fill the ferocity void vocal-wise in Dre’s roster of emcee’s post Ice Cube was RBX. This is the X at his best even on the heels of killer verses by Rage and Kurupt.
10. Deep Cover- Dr.Dre/Snoop Doggy Dogg; Originally intended for Big Hutch aka Cold 187um from Above The Law (hence the “1-8-7” hook) but given to Snoop Dogg when Dre departed Ruthless to start Death Row with Suge Knight. I know that Dre prefers the 1-8-7 single version of this song, but this one is it for me. Introduced the world to Snoop and the rest is history!
11. Imagine- Snoop Dogg/Dr.Dre/D’Angelo; One of those piano driven beats that Dre excels at, but this one is my favorite because Snoop returns to form and D’Angelo emerges from years of obscurity to sing one of his greatest hooks before vanishing again for another 8 years.
12. Fast Lane- Bilal; My favorite Scott Storch keyboard driven Dre beat of all time, “Still” is shockingly second in my book, though I may be the only one who thinks that.
13. Untouchable Remix- Above The Law; This track was the 1st place that you started to hear that new Dre sound that would emerge on “EFIL4ZAGGIN”.
14. Gangsta Gangsta- NWA; Classic NWA, Cube at his best!
15. What’s The Difference- Dr.Dre; Best of 2001 in my opinion, although Hittman would beg to differ (apparently he hated this track). When I hear this track (Sampled off of Charles Aznavour’s “Parce Que Tu Crois”), I think of that picture on the back of the album with Dre and Mel-Man standing in a library of records. One of the more obscure digs Dre and crew have pulled for one of his productions.
16. Approach To Danger- NWA; The most experimental sounding production on “EFIL4ZAGGIN” featuring a sample from the “Scorpio Theme” by my boy Lalo Schifrin. Punchy drums and echoing vocals. Always thought if they did a video that looked like the cover of the album, it shoulda been to this song.
17. Portrait of A Masterpiece- The DOC; The DOC at his best delivery-wise and lyrically. Listen to this track if you want a better understanding of what was lost when Hip Hop fans speak mournfully of the DOC’s injury sustained from a car accident. Man, what could have been!
18. The Next Episode- Dr.Dre; The best David Axelrod/Hip Hop mashup ever, with all respect to Diamond D and his remix of “Soul On Ice”.
19. California Love Remix- 2Pac; The remix with Roger Troutman is where’s it’s at for me with this song NOT the Joe Cocker sampled original. It also marks the near end of Dre’s time at Death Row. Would love to have heard Pac and Dre do more stuff like this if they had more studio time together.
20. Still- Dr Dre; The perfect lead single to 2001 had Snoop sounding like Doggy Dogg again. One of those defining “West Coast” sounding beats with Storch on the keys.
21. Stranded On Death Row- Dr.Dre; The defining posse cut of Death Row Records in their prime!
22. Loose Cannons-Dr.Dre; Best of “Compton” followed by his epic collabo with Premo and “All In A Day’s Work”. Reunites Dre with Cold 187um, who started the G-Funk sound with ATL’s “Vocally Pimpin”.
23. Fistful of Dollars- Nature; Outside of Phone Tap and Firm Fiasco, the Firm was a bust mainly because it wasn’t entirely produced by Dre and lacked cohesion. “Fistful” is one of the most bangin’ tracks to come out of those sessions and for some reason it never made the cut on that largely forgettable album.
24. Louis XIII- Likwit Crew; As a Hip Hop super fan from the West Coast, one collaboration that needed to take place but for one reason or another never happened until a few years back was getting the Alkaholiks on a Dre track. King Tee and XZIBIT had worked with the Doc on numerous occasions but this was the one that final got Tash and J-RO into the fold as well.
25. Been Through The Storm- Busta Rhymes; I have no idea how this track kind of flew under the radar much in the same way that “Imagine” did on Snoop’s “Blue Carpet”. It’s STEVIE FUCKIN’ WONDER AND DR DRE! Beautifully orchestrated track, please find it and go listen!