Thursday, March 10, 2005

Down With Dre

Slate.com has a good story on Dr. Dre — and how he consistently produces quality tracks. The piece inspired me to compile a list of my 20 favorite Dre-produced songs. Hopefully this list will trigger another firestorm of controversy on the comment boards!

1. Dr. Dre: Nuthin' But a G Thang (1992)
I'm sure we all still remember the first time we heard this song back in 1992. The synthesizer line + the remarkable style of Snoop Dogg — relatively unknown at the time — were pretty mind-blowing. And it still holds up.
2. NWA: Express Yourself (1989)
"I'm expressing with my full capabilities / and now I'm living in correctional facilities." I don't know how many times I've said that myself.
3. 50 Cent: In Da Club (2002)
A real simple hook but so infectious. Certainly one of the greatest party tracks of the 2000s.
4. 2Pac and Dr. Dre: California Love (1996)
Another club banger. It's a shame Dre and 2Pac had a falling-out before Pac died.
5. Dr. Dre: What's the Difference (2000) / Blu Cantrell & Sean Paul: Breathe (2003)
My favorite track off the "Chronic 2001" album. The beat was repackaged as "Breathe" by Blu Cantrell. Dre is so at the top of his game here, it was no crime to use it twice.
6. Snoop Dogg: What's My Name? (1993)
Snoop really came into his own on this track — and Dre understood perfectly how to spotlight his talents.
7. Dr. Dre: Xxplosive (2000)
This song has it all: Nate Dogg, Kurupt and chronic leaves with no seeds.
8. Snoop Dogg: Gin & Juice (1994)
Another mid-1990s anthem.
9. G-Unit: Poppin' Them Thangs (2004)
My favorite G-Unit track. Dre prefers to use live instruments and it really pays off with this piano-based beat.
10. Jay-Z: The Watcher 2 (2002)
I liked the original "Watcher," off the "Chronic 2001" album, but this takes it up a notch — even if Jigga's rhymes are a bit ridiculous as he tries to demonstrate how much longer he's been in the game than others: "I was taking a Peter Pan bus; you was puttin' Peter Pan up in your room." Huh?
11. Busta Rhymes: Break Ya Neck (2001)
I find Busta to be a little grating, but this is probably his best song — though "Woo Hah" would be up there too.
12. Knoc-Turn'al: Bad Intentions (2002)
"I don't give a f**k 'cause I'm just drinkin', smokin', straight West Coastin' / bitches puttin' ass in motion..." True dat.
13. Snoop Dogg/Eminem: Bitch Please (1999)
This song got released in a couple versions — both good.
14. Eminem: My Dad's Gone Crazy (2002)
A real epic, but perhaps due more to Eminem's rapping chops than Dre's production.
15. Mary J. Blige: Family Affair (2001)
You're probably sick of this song, but it was great before it got tedious. Why you hatin'?
16. Lady of Rage: Afro Puffs (1994)
A sentimental favorite: "Let me loosen up my bra strap, and let me hit you with my raw rap." For some reason, Lady of Rage never really caught on with mainstream audiences.
17. Xzibit: X (2000)
Xzibit's first album had quite a few great tracks — this is probably the most memorable.
18. The Game: How We Do (2005)
Not sure how will this will hold up, but for now it's a guaranteed way to pack the dance floor.
19. Eminem: Business (2002)
Another solid yet underappreciated track from Eminem's "Show" album.
20. Knoc-Turn'al: Knoc (2002)
Nice hook by Missy Elliott — before she started talking backwards.