Introducing the soundtrack to the phenomenal, game-changing biopic about N.W.A set to seize the silver screen in the UK on Friday 28th August – a top opportunity to utilise the Bank Holiday wisely – is one of the group’s founding members, and since veteran of the hip-hop scene, Dr. Dre. With creative assistance on regular verses from King Mez, Kendrick Lamar and Eminem, to list a few, this is not only a widely anticipated collection for the film, but an album from Dre has been in the pipeline almost as long as Guns N’ Roses’ ‘Chinese Democracy’. Whatever was to appear on this 16-tracker was going to be controversial, regardless. Adding to profound, and often ambiguous, raging lyrics is Lamar; K Dot was a decent choice as a collaborator, if only to boost credibility, but it remains to be noted as to whether Dre could have soared without these henchmen and -women.
So, turning to the 16 at hand, the album opens with ‘Intro’, a descriptive news reading discussing the Black American Dream and testing issues of strife in ghettos. ‘Talk About It’ and ‘Genocide’ then burst in, both with hammering beats and old-school rap effects. Kendrick Lamar dominates ‘Genocide’, while the initial verse is annoyingly average. Packing the album with the sort of throwback ’90s funk we were all probably seeking, ‘All In a Day’s Work’ traverses pressure and relentless routines with Anderson .Paak and Marsha Ambrosius both really strong.
‘Loose Cannons’ is pacy, slightly disjointed, but with tinkling drums and coarse vocals, including those also from Xzibit. The juxtaposed spitting here is not the easiest to follow, but really tells a tale. The undercurrents remain themes of crime, aggression and oppression; these will undoubtedly be negotiated throughout the film, even though it is claimed that at least a six-hour portion of relevant trauma of Dre’s youth has been skipped somewhat insensitively. The benefit here is, though, that Dre can draw on prior events to sculpt the majority of these tracks accurately and accordingly.
‘Issues’ stitches in a few synths and vocoder elements, which is generally a nice touch, but this is one of the most rewarding on the record. Ice Cube is the major help on this piece, which smacks tirelessly of some sort of Joe Budden-Timbaland hybrid. Why the hell not? That sort of blend is a good idea anyway. Further on, Jon Connor and Snoop Dogg add a grimy offering: ‘One Shot One Kill’. You can visualise the gritty images to accompany this. The Game and Asia Bryant then post ‘Just Another Day’; airing Miami beach vibes behind stabbing verses, the female-projected chorus is then sugary and flavoursome, adding another dimension to this typically male-directed LP. Humble and honest, but uptempo and bloody groovy, ‘Medicine Man’ with Eminem, Candice Pillay and Anderson .Paak is another outstanding offering – catchy and bold.
In summary, this is a weighty bunch of tracks for a hotly tipped documentary film, and one nodding to Dre’s heritage excellently.
If you only download one track, let it be: ‘Medicine Man’