February is a month of celebration in the pop culture community — between the Grammy and the Academy Awards, the best in the music and cinema fields will be recognized in the next month. However, between the awards buzz for those two big nights, we want to make not to overshadow February’s significance: Black History Month. So to follow the month’s trend of celebration, we plan to spend all of February going through the most important African-American pop culture personalities of the last 29 years. We continue with 1992.
Without Dr. Dre, we’d have no Snoop Dogg, no Eminem, and no 50 Cent. But without 1992’s The Chronic, we’d have no Dr. Dre.
Coming from a member of N.W.A., The Chronic was somewhat of a surprising endeavor in the early ’90s rap world. Hip hop from the previous decade was socially conscious, underground and even anti-drug (see Grandmaster Flash’s “White Lines”). But The Chronic was a mainstream masterpiece — with eleven million copies sold to date — that put drugs, women and money at the forefront of its lyrical content. Dr. Dre singlehandedly reinvented the role of a rap producer, balancing out tight verbal flow with intricately-crafted pop hooks. “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” is the most important single in the history of West Coast hip hop, marrying weed-induced lyricism with P-funk samples from the late 1970s. It also introduced us to Snoop Dogg, who would continue to dominate the rap universe with 1993’s Doggystyle — also produced by Dr. Dre.
Since The Chronic, Dre has remained for the most part a producer, masterminding debuts for gigantic artists like Eminem and 50 Cent. His hit list of major singles is staggering: Em’s “The Real Slim Shady”; 50’s “In Da Club”; Gwen and Eve’s “Let Me Blow Ya Mind”; even Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” and Tupac’s “California Love.” Dre updated The Chronic with 1999’s Dre 2001, and he continues to promise a proper sequel in the near future. We can only wait.