Dr. Dre and Snoop have a couple more things to say about smoking weed
As a song title, "Kush" isn't exactly original; but neither was "Under Pressure," come to think of it now. The title of former speaks directly to producer/rapper/legend Dr. Dre's great theme: smoking copious quantities of great, dank weed. That may be why "Kush" is slated to be the first single from Dre's long, long, long-awaited Detox, and why the Kraftwerk-quoting "Under Pressure" -- not-quite-up-to-snuff deep cut featuring Jay-Z -- was left on the cutting-room floor.
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.
Get the Music Newsletter
Keep your thumb on the local music scene each week with music news, trends, artist interviews and concert listings. We'll also send you special ticket offers and music deals.