With his multiplatinum comeback, 2001, Dr. André Young did much more than move units, produce hit songs and give Eminem a chance to holler “Detroit What!!” on our TV screens 18 times a day — he brought back a whole damn coast. Sure, other LA groups have made noise, but they don’t exactly recall the heyday of Death Row Records. Dr. Dre has resurrected the gangsta-funk era in an updated, new millennium sort of way. The music sounds crisper, cleaner, and no longer leans on the Ohio Players and Isaac Hayes, while Dre’s stable of artists, names both old and new, are poised to rebuild the empire. Two of the stars from 2001, Xzibit and Snoop Dogg, are trying to build on its success with different goals — one to finally put together all the pieces and fulfill his potential, the other to revive a sadly dormant career.
Nobody was hurt more by the rift between Dr. Dre and Suge Knight than Snoop Dogg, Even as a No Limit Soldier, he’s never equaled his first album. Back under Dre’s direction, it’s just like old times again, from the bad cartoon artwork to the Bootsy Collins ripoffs. Musically, Dre, Battlecat, Meech Wells, Scott Storch and Timbaland (in a welcome surprise appearance) have created a brand-new funk, which sounds better than Outkast’s Stankonia. Kokane and Nate Dogg provide every track with a sung chorus, and there are moments of pure Mystikal Shake Ya Ass bliss. Lyrically is where this album sometimes falls short, as Snoop busts rhymes such as: “It’s off the limbo with Timbo ya muthafuckin’ bimbo, now quit knockin’ on my window, ya nympho.”
Xzibit, on the other hand, has never been short on lyrics. Recognized as one of the fiercest rhymers, he has never delivered the full package until now. While it has some funky tracks, such as the Curtis Mayfield-influenced “Rimz and Tirez,” Restless benefits from both styles and guests from the West and East. Rockwilder brings his signature electric sound to “Front 2 Back,” while KRS-One appears for a reworking of the classic “Kenny Parker Show.” The X-Man also continues what his debut single “Foundation” started with “Sorry I’m Away So Much,” a touching message to his son. While Xzibit’s first two efforts were missing something, it all comes together here in one of the year’s best albums.
Luke Forrest writes about music for the Metro Times. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.