Dr. Dre‘s 2001 is one of the greatest albums of all time. Even after twenty years, the project’s dark and unapologetic brand of west coast hip-hop still sounds as polished as it did upon first release. But is it any surprise the album has endured? I recently spoke with several of the artists involved in its creation, who all spoke of Dre’s unrivaled creativity and vision — you can read the extensive piece on the Creation Of 2001 right here, especially if you’re interested in the behind-the-scenes process that goes into crafting a classic.
Beyond all that, however, is one important fact. Today is Dr. Dre’s 55th birthday, a day that prompts us to collectively revisit our favorite musical moments from the good Doctor. While his discography is absolutely stacked, there’s something about “The Watcher” that endures beyond its peers. Perhaps it’s the brazen way with which it kicks off, straight to business as Dre laments how “things just ain’t the same for gangstas.” The Dark Banger Playbookis in full effect with a minimalist minor-key groove, a creeping bassline capped by an emphatic brass hit. Laidback in delivery yet urgent in his message, Dre’s performance sets the tone for the album to come, at once assertive, philosophical, and eager to retaliate.
Happy birthday, Dre — still Hip-hop’s Watcher to this day.
Things just ain’t the same for gangsta
Times is changin’, young n***s is aging
Becoming OGs in the game and changing
To make way for these new names and faces
But the strangest things can happen from rapping
When n****s get wrapped up in image and acting
N***s get capped up and wrapped in plastic
Zipped up in bags: when it happens, that’s it