It's been 15 years since we've had a new Dr. Dre album, and 12 years since it was originally announced, but thankfully today we FINALLY have Dr. Dre's Detox on store shelves. While there's been some pretty lofty expectations for the record, due to both Dr. Dre's consistent reputation as well as how delayed it's been, it seems like another Chinese Democracy situation where there's no way the final product could possibly measure up. Thankfully, we can say it kind of almost does.
Yes, there's been plenty of Detox leaks over the years, as well as conflicting reports of who appears on it thanks to the Aftermath camp going through so many roster changes, but conceptually speaking, Detox is in all likelihood not that far off from Dre's original vision. Early singles like the Eminem-assisted "I Need a Doctor" and "Kush" are present (although curiously, Skylar Grey's and Akon's contributions to these tracks have both been replaced by Frank Ocean) as well as "Shit Popped Off," which diehards may remember from its snippet appearing in a Dr. Pepper commercial years ago.
There's also who's who of Aftermath alumni here. The opener "Finally" with Eminem and 50 Cent pokes fun at the delay, but at leasts shows enough self-awareness to not make the constant delay an elephant in the room. "Molly Cruel" with Busta Rhymes, Lloyd Banks and Truth Hurts shows Dre's true gifts as a producer in terms of bringing out the best in his artist. There's even "Before You Die" which sounds like one of the better results with Rakim from the Oh My God sessions and features Eve on the hook. Not to mention the nostalgia sentimentality of "Modern Family Reunion" with N.W.A. (including unearthing an unreleased Eazy E verse) and "Universal Health Care" with The World Class Wrecking Crew and Bishop Lamont. Yeah, it's gangsta rap fan service, but if you've been patiently waiting for Detox, it's about time.
When Scott Storch was interviewed about the album in the early 2000s, he eluded it to being the most technically advanced rap album ever released. Honestly, he's absolutely right. The mixing is flawless and the mastering is exquisite, but that's only the beginning. Being one step ahead of technology at all time, there's an incentive to hear the album wearing Beats headphones as only Beats are calibrated to pick up an extra Kendrick Lamar verse on "South of Compton" and random (but hilarious) Eminem shit-talking at the end of "The Last Episode." It's a weird gamble, and some are even wagering that Detox solely exists to sell more Beats headphones as only those who've purchased and registered Beats headphones and earbuds in the past year were sent the email about the album's surprise midnight release, but if there was ever a reason to upgrade your earbuds that break every three months anyway, this is it.
That's not to say it's perfect. "Little Ghetto Boy 2" runs to the nostalgia well one-too-many times, and Snoop Lion being the only Snoop incarnation on every track other than "Kush" really dates a project that was clearly intended to be timeless. Even compared to the other rap releases today, including Black Eyed Peas' member Taboo's solo debut Taboonacle, Nick Cannon's White People Party Music and A$AP Mob's A$ $00n A$ Po$$!ble, there are moments on Detox that are just eons behind its contemporaries. The most glaring error is "Talkboy," a track that has a snap-beat, an auto-tuned Fred Durst vocal sample and Dre himself taking shots at President Bush, Donald Rumsfeld, Spencer Pratt and the movie EdTV. At least the Tony Yayo hook that reworks Vertical Horizon's "Everything You Want" is just weird enough to remain endearing.
But these are minor gripes. Detox is a solid B+ at the very least and, these few missteps aside, should age well. Closing the album with Dre saying "You can stop just chillin' now" before one last "Hell Yeah" gives the project a strong feeling of finality. The trilogy is complete, and now the good Doctor can go back to selling us headphones, or whatever.