Few figures in hip-hop can call themselves super-producers. Whether it’s Boi-1da or Araab Muzik, there is a wealth of creativity concerning rap production. However, only some individuals have the right to call themselves a super-producer. In an appearance on the Detroit radio show, Mojo in the Morning, Timbaland (real name Timothy Mosley) explained his criteria, stating, “Dr Dre, me, Pharrell, Kanye and Swizz [Beatz]…the reason why I say that is it’s not about making a beat, it’s about ‘did you move culture?! Did you change culture?!’ You know it’s different to making a beat. Everyone can make a hot song.”
That said, Dr Dre is undoubtedly an individual that shifted the sonics of hip-hop and changed the culture. As stated by Timbaland, a lot of people can make good beats, but Dr Dre was on a level that only a handful of producers can dream of reaching. Dre is revered as the pioneer and brains of G-funk. Although hip-hop had always sampled funk, the intent behind the LA subgenre made its sonics incomparable to anything the scene had heard prior.
The funk-based records that came out of New York in the late 1970s and early-’80s were arranged to make listeners dance. Before anything, they were party records that made people want to move, and the chords communicated positivity. The cadences and flows used on the tracks were relatively fast and skippy, and the instrumentals were made to make people at the block parties boogie. On the contrary, G-funk was much slower and laid back. It was sonically relaxing and not produced with the intention for people to dance to it. Instead, it was made for people to listen to in their cars, mainly because in LA, you have to drive a lot to get around. Lowriders and flashy cars were a big part of the city’s culture, which was reflected in the music.
Dr Dre’s 1992 debut project, The Chronic, is legendary, and the Death Row empire he built and musically spearheaded changed a lot regarding the musical landscape of ’90s hip-hop. Albums such as Doggystyle, Dogg Food, All Eyez On Me and Tha Doggfather set a precedent concerning hip-hop production, especially with regard to sampling and as the 1990s drew to a close, Dre had high expectations to live up to and that he did with his 1999 album The Chronic 2001, often referred to as 2001. Following the death of 2pac, and the subsequent dissipation of Death Row Records, many insisted Dr Dre had fallen off and was irrelevant. Looking to prove people wrong, entering business with Interscope record executive Jimmy Iovine, Dre began working on a comeback album in 1998. What he produced blew listeners away and shook up the culture.
Released in 1999, 2001 had several ground-breaking hit singles, one of which was ‘The Next Episode’. Featuring Snoop Dogg, Kurupt and Nate Dogg, the track was the third single from the notorious comeback project and was produced by Dre in collaboration with Mel-Man. The West Coast producer and rapper (real name Andre Young) is known for his exceptional ear for samples, and his approach to assembling 2001 was no different. Carefully digging through the crates for old music, Dre ran across the perfect piece for use on his project. This musical masterpiece was ‘The Edge’ by British-American artist David McCallum.
Released in 1967 by Capitol Records, the instrumental piece appears on his album Music: A Bit More Of Me. The song was sampled by Dre for the intro and is the primary riff around which the track is arranged. The LP by McCallum features several other songs including: ‘Five O’Clock World’, ‘My World Is Empty Without You’, ‘Uptight (Everything’s Alright)’, ‘Call Me’, ‘It Won’t Be Wrong’, ‘Far Away Blue’ and ‘Isn’t It Wonderful’. The 2001 gangsta rap rendition peaked at number 23 on the Billboard Hot 100 but debuted at number three on the UK Singles Chart. In the UK, the single is double-platinum. The 1999 track was performed by both Dr Dre and Snoop Dogg last year for the Super Bowl LVI halftime show.
You can hear both the sample and Dr Dre’s spin on the original in the videos below.