Monday, July 19, 2010

Sample Set #158

Released just months after L.A.'s infamous '92 riots, The Chronic envisioned a rebirth - rising from the ashes, g-funk-blasting from every direction. For just as the riots woke and shook up Middle America to the ills that plague the hoods of the nation (again), The Chronic struck a chord in the hip hop community. Dr. Dre, along with his sidekick Snoop Dogg and a gang of cohorts and henchmen, gave the East Coast a run for their money. And what do you know, they effectively snatched up the crown and usurped the East's thrown of rap prominence and regional dominance. Dre may or may not have been the originator of g-funk, but he was certainly the sub-genre's foremost representative. The Chronic is an important album not just for its near-flawless material, but for the cultural shift it helped to create, giving legs to the West Coast, now sturdy enough to go toe-to-toe with the East. In the end, it was the South which benefited most from the East Coast/West Coast wars, but that's a story for another day. Ironically enough, The Chronic, so divested in giving the West Coast a respectable name for itself, is riddled with shots aimed at fellow emcees, most specifically towards Dre's fellow Compton native and former N.W.A. co-member Eazy-E. Like Gil Scott-Heron would sing, "home is where the hatred is." What could be closer to the truth? Amidst L.A.'s ball games, barbecue cook-outs, and block parties lies a drive-by shooter lurking in the corner, waiting for the opportune moment to strike.

In its description of Snoop and Dre's "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang," the website RapGenius notes a difference between the perception of the word "gangster" amongst East and West Coast audiences and participants: "Although on the East Coast, gangster references usually indicate a violent persona, West Coast rappers are more apt to use “G” to describe a relaxed, laid-back captain of industry." Introducing raw and violent lyrics over smooth and enjoyable beats, The Chronic helped to solidify rap's place in the arena of popular music. Music writers have argued that this album in particular effectively prompted an influx of white fans into the wider hip hop audience. Dr. Dre, motherfuckers!

In my short write-up on the Doggystyle sample set, I mentioned that while I enjoy that album more overall, The Chronic takes the cake in terms of cohesion, stylistic innovation and cultural significance. At the end of the day though, it's safe to say that these albums simply belong together... and so do the sample sets! There's a fair amount of overlap between the two sets. Gylan Kain's frequently-sampled "like we always do about this time" snippet off "The Shalimar" makes an early entrance once again, as do a slew of staple g-funk source material provided by Parliament, Funkadelic and all things George Clinton. Want my suggestion? Scoop up both of the sample sets, throw them into your playlist on shuffle and just kick back for six and a half hours. Yeah, that much. Enjoy! And as always... blaze it turn it up!