Review Summary: Dr. Dre's timeless sophomore album, now a decade old, still impresses with quality beats and its star-studded ensemble.
So you might look at me and say “Hey, Dave, you’re just a stupid white kid from the Canadian prairies. What the hell do you know about rap?” Then I might tilt my cap just so, grab my boom box and pump Run DMC just to show you how relevant I am. It’s true that I’m not that big into rap, let alone gangster rap, but there is just something about Dr. Dre’s massive sophomore album, 2001
, that gets my head nodding. Although the album just recently celebrated it’s 10th birthday, it’s really hard to tell, as 2001
sounds just as relevant and potent today as it did back in 1999.
The first thing I have to give 2001
credit for is Dr. Dre’s ridiculously tasty beats. Characterized by big, simple, pounding drums, Dre has a knack for taking what’s supposed to be repetitive and simple and make it so interesting and infectious. Every beat is so layered, dense and complex that you almost hear something new every time you focus on the music. There are also subtle progressions as the song goes on, which is just so tasteful that’s really hard to resist listening strictly to the beat. Standouts include “Still D.R.E.”, with its high-registered, staccato guitar, “Xxplosive”, featuring xylophone and a sampled soul guitar riff, and “Bitch Niggaz”, featuring a bongo, a crawling bassline and swirling high-register guitar and chimes.
And not only does 2001
feature slews of quality beats, but it also boasts a large ensemble of proficient rappers. Dr. Dre, Eminem, Snoop Dogg and Hittman all make regular appearances, while Xzibit, Nate Dogg, Kurupt, Six-Two, Knoc-turn’al and several others all contribute memorable verses here and there. Hittman deserves some specific praise, however, for he appears the most of all the guests and he hits it out of the park every single time with his slick, confident delivery. Every rapper has something to bring to the table, however: Dre’s got his lazy, drawling approach, Snoop Dogg has his trademark sneer, and Eminem has his signature lightning-fast delivery in full force. Some verses here and there might sound out-of-place or cheesy, but for the most part, 2001
is filled with incredibly strong performances.
Of course, there are some subtle flaws here and there, but it all boils down to individual taste. I am a fan of Hittman, but if you don’t really care for him, then I’m sure his numerous appearances will annoy you to no end. I also wish some rappers, namely Knoc-turn’al and Six-Two, made more appearances than they originally did, simply because they have such unique deliveries that it’s always a treat to listen to their contributions. And although it’s typical of gangster rap, sometimes the sexually-charged lyrics and illusions to death and murder and be a bit overbearing at times.
But even for a simple prairie boy like myself, who has preferences leaning towards punk and metal, I can find immense satisfaction listening to 2001
. Brimming with quality and character, 2001
proves to be a rap album worthy of a time-capsule, as the beats are still some of the best going today, the hall-of-fame line up still is interesting to listen to, and the overall production values are superb. Even after a decade, 2001
is still ridiculously fun to listen to, and you have to credit Dr. Dre for creating a fantastic rap album that will easily stand the test of time for decades to come.