2. Dr. Dre, The Chronic
Label: Death Row/Interscope
Release Date: 12/15/1992
To talk about what makes The Chronic great is to talk about the three S's: sonics, songwriting, and Snoop. Enough has been said about Dre's production and how it revolutionized hip-hop, leaving a gang of imitators in its wake. But Dre never gets enough credit for his masterful mixing. The beats weren't just dope, they were crystal clear, arranged perfectly for optimum listening.
The album's main draw was Snoop Doggy Dogg. Young Snoop was one of the most unique voices hip-hop had ever heard, a laid-back West Coast MC with a Southern drawl. And he had the persona to match. He was a straight-up gangsta and former Crip, but he was also charismatic and comical. He brought a very particular electric energy. Meanwhile, the album became a huge commercial smash thanks to its pop appeal and catchy hooks. Dre may have idolized George Clinton's funk aesthetic, but he arguably surpassed him when it came to making singles like "Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin')," a Top 10 hit.
The song was of course aimed at Dre's former bandmate Eazy-E (among others). It's unfortunate that they were feuding at that time, because seemingly every over-the-top line from N.W.A.'s Straight Outta Compton (particularly "Fuck The Police") came true during L.A.'s Rodney King riots. Those riots play a major factor on the album-providing an authentic backdrop that proved California wasn't all women, weed, and weather-especially on the album's most surreal cut, "The Day the Niggaz Took Over."