Tonight at 9 p.m. EST, 16 year's worth of expectations will give way to Dr. Dre's Compton: A Soundtrack, which will stream exclusively on Apple Music. The FADER spoke to seven producers—of all ages and from all regions; including two who have credits on the album—about the Doctor's great influence and the album that they've been waiting more than a decade to hear. This is what they had to say.
One half of Gang Starr, Compton contributor
What are you most excited about?
The most exciting thing is, for one, being a part of it. I'm so happy that he even asked me to get down with him. We clicked in the studio, we didn't have any funny vibes. He was open to my opinions when I said I wanted to change something, or if I said I like this, I don't like that. He was totally cool with it, he wasn't hogging the session, he was totally just regular.
I'm also excited about all the stuff that I heard. I love the song "All In A Day's Work," the beat is just so hard core, and Jimmy Iovine is on it at the beginning talking about what it takes to be a powerful man in business and to remain there and what sort of focus it takes. It's such a motivational record, and it's a head nodder. He played me the record The Game did, that shit is hard. I was like, yo, how many songs you putting on there? He said sixteen and I only heard eight.
How do you think the record is going to fit into today's musical landscape
It sounds fresh. I'm a harsh critique and I sit there nodding my head. Seeing who he had in the room—Snoop's on the record where it sounds like a Lox type vibe, I'm listening to it and I'm like, "Who's rapping on the first verse?" It don't even sound like Snoop, he wanted to do something different, to take Snoop to the next level. This right here: I didn't even know it was Snoop. That's how different it sounds. It's going to be crazy man. There are about sixteen new Dre songs, and he's rapping on almost ever one of them. He would never release a record that wasn't on point, especially after all the waiting and people tired of wondering if Detox is coming out. This album is totally going to give you what you want.
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How has Dr. Dre influenced you as a producer? Dre for me has been the stamp of rap music for the last 25 years. Musically, of course, it's hard to look at his resume funny. But on the other side, it's dope to be in the studio with him and see his energy and vibe. That's where I get the most respect from him. I'm from Inglewood, and growing up Dre has really been a person that I've looked up to in a sense of how to find talent, how to find someone who has a message, how to find someone who can gravitate people towards him. Dre has been an influence in how to do it and not be deterred by faults and things that happen that may not go in your favor. Just seeing the span of his career, the ups and downs, it's incredible to see someone who can last long. Especially in the rap world, there's not that many people left from his era.
Did you ever think he would put out another album? This is actually going to happen, it's kind of weird! Who really thought in their right minds he was going to come out with an album? It feels like a unicorn, you only might see that once. I'm excited in that sense, and I wouldn't lie, it's a really dope album and I'm excited for people to hear it.
And you got to work on it—I don't really chase anything, I just kind of do my thing and hopefully somebody likes it, but my manager went over there and he played a few of my records and I guess he just fell in love with it. So then I came to the studio during the writing process and kind of just heard a lot of the different things they added onto it. It was a dope experience meeting Dre, and he was a big fan of me: he thought I was one of his favorite producers of the generation coming out. To get that acknowledgement, that's one of those things you can't buy.
After all these years, why do you think it's coming out now? It's going to be interesting. I kind of look at music like it's all about timing. It's all about how it effects the people that are in the moment of living it, and something that may be good now may not have been good five years ago, or certain artists may not have existed. It kind of flows with the Earth, and I think with Dre, who really knows what's the right time? I think he feels like it's just the right time. It's going to be interesting, it's the first time an artist of his caliber or a mega-big name is coming out in this age where a lot of the kids only know him for his beats. There is literally a generation of kids that don't know Dre's music. It's going to be interesting.
Based on what you have heard, what should we expect?I was kind of in and out and I haven't heard all the records yet, but they're dope. Dre has a certain ear that, sonically, it's going to hit you harder than a lot of stuff that's happening out there. Technically, it's almost scary how it sounds because it's got a lot of energy. That's going to be a thing, because his ear is so meticulous about the way the kick hits and the way the snare hits and just the feel of the music. It's his vibrations, pretty much. He still has one of the best technical ears in the game.
Will it make old fans happy? Convert new fans?
It's just different because it's one of the albums that you're going to see how it brings people of all generations together. It's got new artists on there and older artists together. It's going to be Dre. I don't want to say it's going to be new Dre, but it's just going to be another facet of Dre—it's a new experience. It's interesting to be in a moment where, this is the first time we've seen a person who has been in a game for so long get this attention. Rap hasn't been like rock music, where you've got the Rolling Stones, you got Aerosmith, you've got Bon Jovi, all these genres of music where cats are still relevant, where they still have an influence on music. Rap is such a young man's game, it's just crazy because it's like, the youth don't even really know him in that sense other than older records. Dre hasn't really been out and about in the public. He's in the studio working.
This is to me the first time someone of this age is like, okay I'm coming and this is what I want to do. I just want to see the reaction of the world is. We live in a different time of music release than when he put out The Chronic, how people took it in. Now it's like, we live in the McDonalds generation of music where it goes in and goes out really quick. It's almost like, damn, it's a moment that definitely will be remembered in the sense of how music is sold, how it's taken by the youth, are older people going to galvanize and say, 'Yeah I'm going to buy this album because I listen to Dre."
How has Dr. Dre influenced you and your work? Dre's the illest. Business-wise, I learned from him how to be a shark: never be afraid, try new things always. Producer-wise, I love Dre's piano. He'll have a one-sound piano and that will sound like a whole score. I think Dre won off of simplicity, more than anything. His shit was simple, but it all would sound really together. I'm really trying to be on a Dre level as far as making hits. Dre was going crazy at one point in time, you were going to have to come up with a $1 million to get a Dre hit when he was in his prime, because it was instant. He made shitloads of money off beats.
What do you hope this album is going to sound like? I hope this new album sounds like some Chronic shit more than anything. I hope it sound like that. I hope that I can smoke it and be like, “This sounds like Dr. Dre, man.” It don't even matter if it fits into the musical landscape now. It's Dre, it could never sound old—it’ll sound crazy. And he's smart, so you got to know there some young kids around him and they're going to make sure it's relevant always.
So you have high expectations—It's going to be a classic regardless, it's Dre. He don't got to drop it, he's showing love just by putting it out and keeping it a thousand. It's going to go crazy, I know that it's got to go crazy. It has to be good!
How has Dr. Dre influenced you and your work? Dr. Dre had a major impact on my sound, just as far as his sound choice and everything. I made a lot of imitation Dr. Dre beats when I was a kid, with those piano stabs and those strings, and I came across one of his drum kits on the internet. I'm just a big fan of his sound and just how well mixed his music was—is, definitely, to this day.
Did you believe he would ever put out another album? I always had hoped that a new album would come out, and I would always come up with new theories when it didn't. But once he did the Apple Music thing, just being on the other side of the industry and him being a direct partner with that, I figured he would come out with something. But fifteen years, that's more than half my life so to wait that long to put something out! The sound has changed five, six times since he put a project out. The rappers have changed so many times. Who knows what the kids are going to feel like when they hear it, so it's really a step out on faith.
Are you worried it might sound out of date? I don't think Dr. Dre has to fit in, at the same time. He can dictate things. Every time he's either dropped an album or introduced an artist over the years, it's changed the landscape. From Snoop to Eminem to 50 Cent, the Game, Kendrick, his solo work—he updated the sound, he brought in a new narrative. Every time he dropped something or put his co-sign or produced something, it changed the game. I definitely feel like he has the potential to do that now.
You sound optimistic. I don't even know what to expect, but I highly doubt that it won't be good. That's almost impossible at this point: he's got too many talented people in his corner. Plus, I don't think he would go as far as to do it if it were going to be bad—just that fact that he's putting it out is good enough.
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How has Dr. Dre influenced you and your work? I actually had a chance to be in the studio with Dr. Dre and to see him work. It was like, he's mixing as he's going, they're cutting vocals in the room—it's just a super dope experience. It's funny because that was the first time I got in the studio with him, but we work really similarly. Mel-Man, who did pretty much every song but one with Dr. Dre on 2001 was discovered by my dad and was my mentor, so he was just telling me different stories about the formula that they have that they use.
Did you believe he would ever put out another album? I honestly didn't think this album was going to happen. There was a time a few years ago when he put out "Kush" with Snoop and Akon when it was like, okay, maybe it's a possibility something will come out because this song is hot. But now it's like, it's really going down now.
How do you think it will be received, based on what you've heard and what you are hoping for? I think people are going to expect an old Dre album, but it’s forward thinking. It’s going to be new and improved. He’s one of the few people I know who can move forward with the times, a lot of producers from that time get stuck. The sonics, there were some songs I can't wait to play on repeat. It's still forward thinking. I was like, I hope it's not dated, but then when I heard the music, I was like, this music is great.
How has Dr. Dre influenced you and your work? I've always been a huge fan of Dre. My parents love West Coast hip hop, so I've been hearing The Chronic playing in my dad's car since i was a kid. That alone kinda shaped me. And of course, his drums!
What do you think the new album will be like?I don't doubt the production will be great. I also love that he features a lot of artists coming up right now.
Are you excited about the new album? Why? And what specifically are you most excited about? I am. Curious to see where he takes it though. There's been so much hype, i just hope to hear a progression. I am very curious as to how the sound has matured and progressed, and if the sound is modern.
How has Dr. Dre influenced you and your work? The real question is how has Dre not influenced me? I was born in '85, so that era of music was all I heard my life. The first thing I ever heard rap wise was Dre and N.W.A. Especially coming from L.A., it's like you never even heard of anything outside of N.W.A. growing up. He's probably the hugest influence I've ever had. Sonically, his influence was heavy—the way would flip dirty drum beats and make it sound West Coast to his lyrics, which were about what everyone from L.A. at the time was feeling. He's spot on in every aspect, and it's amazing.
Did you ever think this album would come out? You hear about Detox, you hear he's working but you don't know if it's going to be on the album. I know the perfectionist he is, so I get it 100 percent. The world might not get it, but when you see somebody who is making a rapper pronounce their T's and X's like that, you understand where he is coming from and why it takes so long. For me, I get it—take your time, feel like you got it perfect, and when you feel like the world is ready, just let it go. It's going to be the best feeling in the world to hear what he's been cooking all these years.
What do you think it is going to sound like?The world is just over. Like the rest of everybody else who's been waiting, I want Dre to be Dre. I know he's going to bring back a feeling that I haven't felt in a long time. And I know he's going to deliver it, hands down.
What is the most exciting part of this finally happening for you? I'm excited for the sounds he's going to pull out. He has billions of records, and I guess his biggest problem is picking from the billion awesome records he has, how does he know he's going to make the right decision? God forbid the album sounds like the Macarena, tracks one through ten. But I know that's not going to happen. I have all the faith in the world in this guy, so I'll be ready.
Have you made plans to listen to it? Whenever an album comes out, I take a long drive. I'll be up the hill somewhere listening.