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Dr. Dre: The Chronic

Parents' Weekend with Dr. Dre

Growing up in a white family can really mess with your identity sometimes! When I was 14 years old, Dr. Dre came to Louisville Gardens on The Chronic tour, with Snoop Dogg, Run-DMC, and Onyx in tow. In the week leading up to the show, the mayor's office repeatedly warned potential concertgoers that this man actively promoted violence, race wars, and the consumption of illicit drugs. And to paraphrase Dylan, my parents were liberal, but to a degree. This was not to be a show I would attend. I was in the process of an epic moping session when, on the eve of the show, I received a bizarre offer from my father. "You can go to the concert," he said, "but only if you go with me." Humiliated but still standing, I accepted.


SHAWN CHENG/YH
My memories of the evening are humbling. Our drive to the show, with my playing the plaintive "Lil' Ghetto Boy" on the car stereo to prove to my dad that Snoop and Dre had social conscience. At the show, my dad's repeatedly screaming into my ear, "I have a headache!!" as I stood on top of my chair and tried not to hear. His finally announcing that he was getting sick and had to go as Dre rolled a guillotine onstage. Our long, awkward visit to the t-shirt stand, where my dad had to decide whether the shirt I'd come home with would have a huge hemp leaf across the chest or simply read, "Bitches Ain't Shit."

The show was a bust, with Dre's masterfully-produced charisma failing to translate live, and a poor mix that forced Snoop to scream like Henry Rollins. But today, The Chronic still awes me as much as it did in back in the nine-deuce. Snoop's delivery, at once cosmically smooth and drum-tight, ranks with that of Lambert, Hendricks, and Ross. Dre's sonic landscape, with its whiny synthesizers, gunshots, and wailing gospel shouters, is an act of creation on par with Sly Stone's There's a Riot Goin' On.

And in the otherwise moribund world of West Coast hip-hop, The Chronic stands masterfully and tragically alone. The party wasn't built to last, and it didn't. Snoop and Dre split a few years later and have reunited only now that the listening public has lost interest. But in converting hip-hop into the theatrical means of Caucasian liberation it has been ever since, they got away with murder. And whether or not my dad and other hip-hop purists approve, that's a pretty righteous thing. (Death Row)

Abraham D. Levitan

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