As you get older, your taste in music changes. If it hasn’t it’s bound to. I grew up listening to a lot of 80’s hip-hop and a lot of rap. LL CooJ, Ice-T, The D.O.C. and NWA. As I got older my tastes changed to reflect how music made an impact on my life. As I transitioned from being a music listener to actually playing the music I listened to, I was influenced by 90’s alternative rock and the grunge movement. Pearl Jam. Green Day. L7. That was mixed with impressions of Techno and Electronica euro-trash bands. After a while, music started to sound the same to me. That’s when I started listening to talk radio.
The best talk radio stations had someone with a story to tell. If it was a good story, it really didn’t matter what the topic was. If the story was smart, real…authentic, then I was there. It wasn’t long before I realized why I was drawn to the gritty and uncensored world of rap music as a kid. It was because rap artists tell stories in their music. About their lives. About their struggles, and their environment. There is a lot of tragedy spoken by the artists in the rap industry. Obviously it is reported by those who survive, but their stories echo of an inspiring resilience to continue on and a determination to succeed in music despite a life influenced by drugs, violence, neglect and oppression. Usually expressing a love/hate relationship with the city they lived in, or still live in.
So at 10:18 PM last night when I got the notice that Andre Young (Dr. Dre) released “Compton” on AppleMusic, I didn’t waste any time to dig into it and listen to an artist that I spent a lot of time listening to as a teen either riding in an Aires-K with a 15″ sub in the trunk or a LandCruiser with 2×12″ subs where the jump seats were supposed to be.
Someone once asked me what Dre’s workday at Apple was like. While I had no factual knowledge, I couldn’t keep my mouth shut, and had to chime in on how I envisioned it:
Compton is classic Dre. It was inspired by the up-coming movie of the same name, about the members of NWA. Young stated that his
reason for coming out of a 10 year hiatus from producing (his own) music, was because of the movie. I found this out by getting into what makes AppleMusic, AppleMusic. The application plays music. Hence the ‘music’ portion in the name. But it is
far more than that. It has a social component that allows the music fan to connect to the artists they love, and interact with other fans who share similar tastes in music.
I’ve heard a lot of negatives about AppleMusic. Hell, one cat on my Facebook feed said it was crap the day it rolled and posted his unsub. And then there is Jim to Dalrymple of The Loop fame, who loved Music so much (initially) he uploaded a crazy stack of music to his Cloud Drive and ended up losing thousands on songs. Of course when Apple heard that they worked to get them back. I really didn’t get into the experience environment until last night while reviewing ‘Compton’ but my technical analysis shows that AppleMusic will best serve those who:
* Are primarily mobile users
* Have an extensive library (in the thousands of songs)
* Want access to those songs all of the time
* Have a data plan that does not count against music streaming
* Live in a geographical area with excellent carrier coverage and performance
This demographic of user can then carry a music library with a bit-weight that far exceeds the capacity of their handset and have a zero-sum impact on the handset memory.
As I explored the AppleMusic UI, the Connect tab is where the experience begins. I watched video interviews of Dre when he broke the news about the release of this outstanding album, and reading the comment feed from his biggest fans. AppleMusic does what it says it does in this respect. It brings music lovers closer to the Artists who create the music they love.
Compton is a flash back to 80’s hip-hop/rap history with modern beats. It will make your head bounce and it will make you clap. It’s gritty. It’s explicit. Not just a little explicit…It’s every track explicit, so it’s not going to get heard by everyone. But it’s not for everyone and that’s too bad. Because there are stories told that are incredibly moving. Stories about good times and pain. About admiration for Moms, and about memories of old friends who are no longer here. Stories about personal success, and an assessment of the world seen from a survivor, still on the rap scene, and still living in Compton (even though he is an executive at Apple in Cupertino).
It brings with it, featured artists like Ice Cube, Xzibit, Snoop Dogg and Eminem.
If I had to pick my top 2 tracks on this 16 track masterpiece I wouldn’t have to think twice: Medicine Man and Talking to my diary.
Medicine man features a hook by Canidce Pillay that is literally hard but her voice is soft and smooth as silk. I appreciate that dichotomy. Verse 2 is where Eminem is featured:
– So I rose and grew balls
– Told these hoes to screw off
– Opposing you is what I’m ‘posed to do all’s
– I did was
– Say what I’m feelin’ when the vocal booth calls
– And had you
– On pins and needles, when I spoke to you all
– You felt my pain
– It’s almost like I poke voodoo dolls
– And I hope my spirit haunts the studios when I’m gone
– My picture jumps off a poster and just floats through the halls
– It ⌘⌘⌘⌘⌘⌘⌘ goes through the walls
– Like the ghost of Lou Rawls
Mathers (Eminem) puts a level of energy into this song that hits at the right spot, making it my #2 favorite.
But there is a reason why Talking to my diary is last..because it’s the best. It features and head bounce and clap beat that is accompanied with a 1-2 roll from strings and a freestyle trumpet. In it, Dre tells the story about where he was. And he goes on to describe where he is now while still reminding you where he comes from. He shouts out DJ Yella, Ice Cube and MC Ren, and expresses how he feels about (Eric Wright) Eazy-E being gone and times with NWA:
– I let it pass
– So I consider that part of my history
– And I’m strong
– Financially, physically
– Mentally I’m on a whole ‘nother level
– And don’t forget that I came from the ghetto
– Sold a new house for my moms, that’s special
– I let you
– Going shopping till your feet get tired, in a
– New Benz just for you to ride in
– When I didn’t have it
– You provided
– Don’t be surprised
– that I built an enterprise
– And my house got a view of the city
– Like a high rise
– I’m just talking to my diary, I’m just talking to my diary
Compton is a nostalgic experience for me. I’m not a fan of many things but I have always loved Dre’s music. I just have to be mindful of where and how I listen to it considering I have young daughters. Listening to Compton brings me back to the days I didn’t have a lot of worries. Just riding with my friends. Listening to Dre, and NWA.
Thanks Dre, for making me feel like a kid again.