Referring to it as his ‘grand finale,’ Compton feels like a cinematic celebration of Dr. Dre’s career in the game, and makes for a rewarding, if unspectacular experience. Whilst Detox failed to pass the finishing production tests after years of labor, this is a focused and cohesive work that clearly benefitted from the inspiration found during production of Straight Outta Compton.
As you’d expect, Dre does a fantastic job in setting a tone, taking full advantage of the large, cinematic scope by creating a variety of moods like he has skillfully done for so many years now. Another significant part of Dre’s legacy has risen from the talent that he has so effectively showcased, and Compton only highlights this further with an extended list of guest appearances. Long time collaborators Ice Cube and Snoop Dogg are effective beyond the practice of nostalgia, whilst Eminem boasts his imposing technical ability to dramatic effect, for better or worse. Kendrick Lamar almost manages to steal the entire show yet again; his three spots positioned perfectly on the record to again underline Dre’s ability in showcasing the finest of talents.
Truthfully, there’s no dud appearance on the album, and there’s a clear communal spirit here. Whilst Dre has never been one to stand alone, it’s impressive that Compton manages to retain a sense of identity and personal reflection despite the sparse nature of his own vocal contributions. The record is built with an endearing sense of togetherness, and pays off as a joyous celebration of Dre’s career, the city of Compton, and the genre of hip-hop in general. Compton has genuine heart and soul, and if it truly is Dr. Dre’s send off, it does a fitting job of commemorating a marvelous career.
7 out of 10
Compton is a polished, lumbering beast of an album. Not so much concerned with peaks and troughs as with a steady, charismatic drone of all things Compton, Dr. Dre’s latest concoction rides a peculiar line between celebration and reflection.
The album’s who’s who of collaborators blows hot and lukewarm — Kendrick Lamar and Snoop Dogg in particular deserve plaudits — and the result of this is an endearing tribute to the creative energies that made the work possible.
It feels like something to be admired, rather than engaged with. This makes for an interesting cultural product, but also means it lacks the provocative aura that might have made it a great album, rather than a good one. In playing host to a star-studded stream of solid, unspectacular music, a fundamental spark seems lacking.
There certainly isn’t a great deal wrong with Compton, it simply lacks that extra electricity. Whether that perception is my problem or the album’s I’m not sure, but it leaves me with a lukewarm appreciation and a limited to desire to revisit it — in spite of its merits.
7 out of 10
This is Dr. Dre’s first album in 16 years and, unsurprisingly, there were a lot of listeners who expecting a lot from Compton. The album is filled to the brim with collaborators, and it’s clear that each was given a fair amount of control over the tracks they featured on — Kendrick Lamar applying his signature style that we heard from To Pimp a Butterfly, to Genocide and Snoop Dogg delivering a fierce vocal on “One Shot One Kill”.
Aside from the collaborators though, the instrumentation across the album is impressive on its own. From rolling, swooping basslines in “Genocide” to recognisable sections of piano, minimal beat and vocal in “Darkside/Gone” to glitch-inspired, minimal instrumentals that fly around the stereo field in “Deep Water”; even the horn section getting an airing in “Talking to My Diary”. It’s varied and it makes for an interesting listen for the majority of the duration.
My reservation is, unfortunately, in the length of the album. As with a growing list of albums we’ve reviewed, Compton could have done with some pruning. Some tracks in the second half feeling like fillers — safe and well trodden ground. Overall though, it’s a very enjoyable, catchy listen that I will certainly be returning to.
8 out of 10