Review Summary: The end of an era...
When Dr. Dre released The Chronic
in 1992, he dropped a bomb. It showed what the West Coast was capable of creating and made an even more defined line of separation between itself and the East Coast that had already been established a year prior on N.W.A.'s Efil4zaggin
- an album also produced by Dr. Dre. Not only did The Chronic
make the west much more popular, it made Death Row the biggest label in rap and it's signees stars. Daz Dillinger was one of these signees. He is one half of the legendary duo Tha Dogg Pound with Kurupt. While being featured on albums such as The Chronic
is nothing to scoff at, Daz was more than just a rapper. He produced countless songs for rappers all around California, both hits and deep cuts. Daz Dillinger was Dr. Dre's first student behind the producer board and this is one of the cases where the student succeeds the teacher. Daz was doing ghost production on The Chronic
for songs like Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat and Ain't No Fun (If The Homies Can't Have None), being credited only as an engineer. After Doggystyle,
Dre started slowing up and Daz was there to become Death Row's in-house producer, doing the majority of the production on Death Row's soundtracks, Tha Dogg Pound's Dogg Food,
and All Eyez On Me.
What does this have to do with Retaliation, Revenge, and Get Back
? Well, the production is perfect. Every song here has an amazing beat that goes perfectly under Daz and his features' voices. Daz, along with DJ Pooh and Soopafly, helped create something I call the "Dark Death Row Sound" utilizing heavy bass, eerie synths, haunting keys, and sharp percussion to create and atmosphere the east coast wishes it could capture. Some examples of this are the posse cut "Initiated" which features Tha Dogg Pound and 2Pac and his Outlawz and "Oh No" featuring Big Tray Deee. Both of these use those previously mentioned elements but sound different and dark in their own ways. This style of production paints such a vivid picture of dark, empty streets that could have danger around every corner, not unlike the Bone Thugs-N-Harmony captured on their early records.
Another thing I love about Daz is he always tries to work with people outside of Los Angeles. On "Playa Partners" he teams up with Click member and Bay Area native B-Legit who's signature deep voice and heavy drawl meshes well with Daz' more precise, almost staccato rhymes. On "It Might Sound Crazy" Too $hort comes in with his usual pimp/playa raps. It's on songs like these where the album takes a break from the overall dark sound for a little bit of fun. The greatest example of this is on "In California" which might be his loudest song sonically with some of Daz' most energetic and charismatic rapping coupled with a powerful sung chorus done by fellow Death Row "inmate" Lady V. She also appears later in the love song "Only For You."
Retaliation, Revenge, and Get Back
serves as a perfect final chapter for Death Row. I mentioned earlier that Daz was Dr. Dre's first protege because Daz went from someone who was mostly behind the scenes to someone hosting their own full album that no one else could have created. I truly believe Daz Dillinger is the only one who could have finished Death Row so successfully and so satisfyingly.