Producer: Dr. Dre
Album: All Eyez on Me
Label: Death Row/Interscope
This track represents a defining moment for the g-funk era, for 2Pac, and for West Coast rap as a whole. Dr. Dre was already crowned Cali's reigning producer, and when he connected with rap's most controversial star, they created an anthem as colossal as hip-hop itself. Pac was clearly ready for his moment.
He jumped on this "bomb beat from Dre" in rare form: his energy was high, even for him, and his rhymes and cadence were precise and infectious. While Dre kept his attention on praising California, Pac couldn't help but clown the “other” side as not being as real. “L.A. is where we riot not rally.” Dre came away with the illest line tho: “I been in the game for ten years making rap tunes/Ever since honeys was wearing Sassoons.” With the gangsterific Suge Knight scaring the bejeesus out of everyone in the industry, this track could only be interpreted as the opening salvo of a prolonged and potentially violent propaganda war—a takeover bid, if you will.
The futuristic Mad Max style video only added to militaristic underpinning of this hometown funk celebration. Dre's layered production is full of suspense and big basslines. Zapp's Roger Troutman, the original Auto-Tunist, kills the hook, tying the record directly to its electro-funk roots. 15 years later, "California Love" still hits like an earthquake.