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Chronic 2001 - CDNOW

2001CDNow Chronic 2001 (1999)

How do you age in hip-hop and maintain your edge? The music is even more youth-driven than rock & roll – and that's saying something. Its young audience, both white and black, is obsessed with novelty in all its forms: new faces, new sounds, new fashions and new ways to flow.

In that context, Dr. Dre, at 34, is a rap Methuselah. Sure, he revolutionized the music over and over again -- first with the gang-banging N.W.A, then with his solo debut The Chronic (which launched Snoop Dogg). And, earlier this year, he produced Eminem’s Slim Shady LP, the album that made today's world safe for white rappers. But in this time of short attention spans, what hope could there be for Dre on the current scene?

Plenty. Dre comes out blazing on 2001, keeping his beats fresh and defining a persona for himself that takes his fabled history into full account. On "The Watcher," a thumping track that Dre informs with his characteristic menace, the rapper declares, "Nigga, if you really wanna take it there, we can/Just remember that you fuckin' with a family man/I got a lot more to lose than you/Remember that, when you wanna come to fill these shoes." That achievement and, of all things, a settled relationship can make you harder rather than softer is about as bold an idea as can be put forward in contemporary music.

Not that 2001 is a "mature" album in any conventional sense. Hoes and bitches – i.e., women – come in for their usual abuse, gunshots explode, weed burns, and profanity rings out on nearly every one of the album's 22 tracks. Snoop and Eminem pay tribute to their mentor with their trademark mayhem. And Dre reigns over it all – a master of the game who has come back to demonstrate exactly how it's done.