The arrival of a new Dr. Dre banger is almost always a cause for celebration. But when Snoop Dogg jumps on a Dr. Dre cut where the good doctor is spitting what he once described, in a bizarrely self-depreciating moment, as his "simplistic pimp shit," something more significant happens: the worlds of granite-hearted OG rhymes and gang-affliliated stoner rap collide, and suddenly it's 1992 all over again. Nostalgia-infused magic happens whenever these two hit the lab, and the circumstances under which listeners indoctrinated themselves with the pair's previous G-funk collaborations come flooding back with a vengeance.
For Gimme Noise, that equates to traipsing along Maryland back roads solo to The Chronic 2000; cruising through the chrome-studded parking lot of a certain Baltimore County private school with a friend who could drive using only his knees at twilight, rocking Doggystyle and The Chronic at top volume; cranking The Doggfather with my cousin in his Baltimore row-house basement when we weren't watching the "Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang" video.
"Kush" makes a nice addition to this micro-cannon, ladling dolorous piano chords and strategically-strained synth static atop snare strikes; while it's ultimately of a piece with Dre's overall aesthetic - Timbaland standing in for the usual
trademark authoritative, booming Nate Dogg
ad-lib action - some room is made for modern touches, namely Autotuned rasp (see Akon's hook) and electro space-shit. And then, of course, we have Dre and Snoop, and further marijuana-centered discourse - an especially timely
commentary, given what the state of California didn't
collectively opt to legalize in this month's election. Dre helpfully offers a stoner ettiquitte refresher - "it's that puff-puff pass shit" - before lapsing into brusque lyrical jabberwocky: "Speedboat traffic, bitches automatic/Cross that line, fuck around and get your ass kicked." When he passes that "burn slow as fucking molasses" blunt, Snoop snatches it - less out-to-lunch passive than he's been in the past, more focused and in the moment. "Still I am/Tighter than the pants on Will.I.Am," he raps. "I have a pound in my back, next to where the swishas at/Smokin' presidential, got some Bubba." Akon chimes in with sage council for bong crusaders who aren't puffing sage: "Inhale, exhale/inhale, exhale."Like all brilliant Dre productions, there's a deceptive simplicity - an illusionary slightness - at work here that suckers you. I remember being disappointed by how basic and rudimentary "Fuck You
" and "Forgot About Dre
" sounded the first time I heard them; there was nothing to them, it seemed - game-changing curveballs or samples or whatever - to cement them into memory as anything significant. And yet today, a full decade after I first popped The Chronic 2000
into my VW Jetta's cassette player (R.I.P.), these songs pulse with presence, weight, and cultural substance, trickily a priori
, as though they'd existed forever, as though the universe would be smaller and less complete if it didn't include them. "Kush" is a chunk off the old brick: overachievingly pedestrian now, but destined for reflective greatness later.