As the clock struck midnight EST to mark the August 7th arrival of Dr. Dre‘s Compton, the rapper-producer joined Zane Lowe on Beats 1 to discuss his first LP in 16 years. Dre’s interview came just hours after he streamed his new album exclusively on Apple Music, and he discussed the all-star Compton, his “grand finale,” in depth. “It’s crazy that it’s been 30 years and this is only my third album,” Dre said.
After opening fittingly with 2001‘s “The Next Episode” and Compton‘s “One Shot One Kill,” Lowe opened their conversation by admitting that Compton exceeded his expectations. After the album’s opening “Intro,” the first two rappers to appear on Compton are a pair of lesser known MCs, King Mez and Justus. “For my last two albums, that’s what I’ve done. I don’t want to go out and get the new hot artist that’s out right now just to put it on my album and help it sell,” Dre said. “I like working with new artists.”
Kendrick Lamar was once one of those “new artists” that The Chronic rapper took under his wing, and Dre lauded his fellow Compton rapper. “It’s a really strange thing to watch Kendrick work. Like he hears the music, I’m waiting for him to pick up a pen and pad, but he doesn’t do that. He just paces back and forth in the studio, and the next thing you know there’s an incredible verse coming out of his face,” Dre said of Lamar’s work on “Genocide.” “Kendrick Lamar is the real deal. He’s a real artist and he’s gonna be here for awhile, because this guy is seriously talented.”
Dre also told Lowe that, following the dissolution of Detox, he didn’t think he would record another album. However, after being inspired by working on the N.W.A biopic Straight Outta Compton and laying down three tracks, “I felt a [great album] coming. I know that feeling after being in it for so long,” Dre said. “So I just said, ‘I’m going for it’ and really started blacking out in the studio.” As for whether Dre, a borderline billionaire, could still generate the fire and inspiration needed to create a top-notch hip-hop album, he admitted that no amount of money could replicate the feeling he gets from making a hit record.
Dr also talked about Compton‘s “Medicine Man,” which features Eminem. “We just love being in the studio recording,” Dre said of his longtime collaborator and protégé. “We’re in there not trying to be okay, not trying to be good; we’re trying to be great. Do we accomplish that? Absolutely. Do we miss every now and then? Absolutely. But the vibe and energy we bring to the studio is, ‘Let’s do something great.'”
Finally, Dre opened up about the concept behind Compton and the LP’s personal closing track, “Talking to My Diary.” “I want this album to be inspiring. I want it to be motivational. So that was the foundation throughout the entire record,” Dre said. “The record is just me reflecting and I’m basically just talking to myself. It’s just me in the room and I’m talking to myself.”
Earlier in the day, before the album debuted on Apple Music, Dre talked Compton on Beats 1. “The new artists I got like King Mez and Justus, these two guys actually came in and just grinded with me throughout the entire project,” Dre told Lowe. “As a matter of fact, most of the lyrics are written by us three. We would just go into the studio, put up the track and for some reason, the stars aligned and we killed it, man.”
Dre also revealed that all of his artist royalties from the album would go towards the building of a new performing arts center and entertainment facility in Compton. “I feel it’s the right thing to do and I hope everybody appreciates the work I put into this album,” he said. “We’ve reached out to [Compton Mayor] Aja Brown quite a few times in the last month or two. I’ve been really trying to do something special for Compton and just couldn’t quite figure out what it was. She actually had this idea and she was already in the process of working on it. I said, ‘Boom, this is what we should do.'”