24 May 2010

Music Memories #1 -- Dr. Dre - The Chronic

"What you know about the chronic?"

Is there anything more Southern Californian than gangster rap?

Maybe surfing. Perpetually good weather, I guess.

But really, in recent memory, what kind of mark has Southern California/Los Angeles made on the music scene since giving birth to gangsta rap in the early-90s?

Dr. Dre - "Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang"

Los Angeles is prone to abandoning their history whenever possible, there are few memories or landmarks where Angelenos can proudly hang their hat.

But one thing that we can certainly call our own is gangsta rap.

Dr. Dre's debut album - The Chronic - was released in mid-December of 1992 but I had no idea who he was until I caught a glimpse of "Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang" on one of my secret and late-night visits (it was prohibited in my house) to MTV at some point in early 1993. I wish I could say my hip-hop knowledge at twelve extended further than MC Hammer and The Fresh Prince, but aside from a smattering of NWA and Run DMC here and there, that was about it.

But when I first heard/saw "Nuthin' But A 'G' Thang," I was blown away.

I remember going to the local mall with my cousin to buy the record at the Wherehouse Music (remember those guys?!).

I don't remember where we got the money (stole it?), how we got there (were our mom's shopping at Broadway?), but all I remember is that when we had the record in our hands we felt fucking cool.

We tore the CD out of the cheap plastic bag, plopped down on the nearest mall bench that wasn't littered with french fries and probably spent 10 solid minutes negotiating the plastic wrap around the CD (I don't miss that). Then we pored over the liner notes.

Two black kids sat down next to us, at the time I thought they were, like, in their late-20s (i.e. grown up) but in reality they were probably seniors in high school.

One of them had a big grin on his face, pointed at the record in our hands and asked with a laugh, "What you know about the chronic?"

We straightened our backs, puffed out our tween chests, and with as much defiance, enthusiasm as two suburban kids could muster: "Sure! We know about the chronic."

No, we didn't know but we felt fucking cool, remember?

Hell, the only "chronic" I knew was my aunt's chronic back pain (zing!). Somehow I didn't think the good Doctor was spitting mad rhymes about that all-too-common ailment.

There was another laugh with a nod of approval from the kid.

"Alright, man. Alright."

Maybe some high-fives were exchanged as Barack Obama had not invented the fist pound yet. But I think I might be making that part up in my head. All I knew was that I felt cool fucking cool.

The soundtrack of the early- to mid-90s for me had to be the funk-hop beats of Dr. Dre throughout 1993 that carried on with the smooth lyrical styling of Snoop Doggy Dogg when he stormed the scene with Doggystyle.

Those were some good days. Damn good.

I did also spend an inordinate time with the oldies radio station in those years as well. Then the brit-pop scene in the mid-90s changed my life too but that's another story for another time.

What are your Music Memories of The Chronic? Comment below!

The Chronic

By the way, The Chronic is almost old enough to vote.