9. 2Pac f/ Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman "California Love" (1995)
Producer: Dr. Dre
Album: All Eyez On Me
Label: Death Row, Interscope
Who but Dr. Dre could take a song by Joe Cocker and turn into an anthem of the South Los Angeles streets? "California Love" feels like the grand midpoint of Dre's career, the crossroads at which the resolute funk of N.W.A. and the queasy G-funk of Death Row slides into the sleek and calculated orchestrations of the Aftermath epoch.
"Say what you say," says Tupac. "But give me that bomb beat from Dre. Let me serenade the streets of L.A." There is a pied piper quality to "California Love," reinforced by the godlike presence of Roger Troutman, who is to Dre's career what Moses was to the Old Testament, and whose musical spirit hovers over this song like Pacific thunderclouds over the gridded metropolis.