For All the Detox Tea in a Chinese Democracy

Although River of Dreams was not like Beethoven, as Billy Joel desperately wanted me to believe back in 93, Snoop Dogg and Guns N’ Roses were actually a little closer to the genre.  I’ve been thinking about all of the reunions, repackaging, or horrible new releases from the likes of Aerosmith, Queen, the Dead Kennedys (minus Jello), Madonna, and The Police. It makes me freak out that the likelihood of the new music being listenable are slim to none. There is still some wishful thinking on the internet that Dr. Dre and Guns N’ Roses may release albums that have been years in the making but that is where their similarities end.

Dr. Dre has had quite the career since he started out with the Strip Club Anthem group World Class Wrecking Cru. I remember playing “Turn Off The Lights” all the time when I was a DJ at Déjà vu.  After his mid 80s success as a booty jam maker, he produced NWA’s Straight Outta Compton. The late 80s and the early 90s had Dr. Dre producing most of the popular gangsta rap music to come out of the era and, after NWA broke up, Dr. Dre came out with The Chronic. The original Chronic was a West Coast soundtrack to the early 90s and, once it dropped, Snoop Dogg, Warren G, Nate Dogg, Kurupt, Tha Dogg Pound, and more carried gangsta rap through its first wave.  Eventually, Dr. Dre decided to come out with his own label, Aftermath, in which he released a horrible album also titled The Aftermath. After The Aftermath disaster, fans waited for years for the Chronic 2001, which eventually came out in 1999. About a year after the Chronic 2001 came out, Dr. Dre began talking about what was to be his next album, “Detox“.

Chinese Democracy” is the urban myth of an album that was suppose to be Guns N Roses’ follow up to Use Your Illusion 1 and 2GNR milked Use Your Illusions 1 and 2 from 1991 until 1993.  At that point, they released an album of covers called The Spaghetti Incident, which was their attempt to make their own Garage Days Revisited.  Around this time frame (1993-1994), Guns N’ Roses transformed themselves from one of the greatest rock bands into a band that did not create new music for their fans.  Axl wanted to sound like the industrial music at the time. Rob Halford from Judas Priest had a band called Fight that was short lived.  Axl Rose never let up on his dream to make Guns N’ Roses the next Fight and, in his quest, he fired every original member of Guns N’ Roses and recast them with bizarre replacements. He spent millions of dollars recording tracks that, somehow, started to leak on to the internet around 1999. The tracks that were leaking out way back then are actually the very same tracks that are leaking out now in 2008. These tracks were to be the next Guns N’ Roses album called Chinese Democracy.

Snoop Dogg is one of the talking heads of credibility that leak information about Detox. Even though this has happened in the past, there is still a ray of hope amongst the die hard fans of Dr. Dre’s lyrical genius and flow that he will return with a sequel to the Chronic that is way better than Cheech and Chong’s Still Smoking. I was reading on a Rolling Stone blog about Snoop Dogg was proclaiming that Detox was coming out.  People got bent out of shape because the article tried to compare Chinese Democracy and Detox. Chinese Democracy is far less likely to come out than Detox, even though it has been floated around since 2000. It floats around like a drifting release date. I recently read that Detox that is scheduled for late 2008, but each year seems to have some new news about what is claimed to be Dr. Dre’slast rap album“. Maybe he’ll produce Coldplay and My Chemical Romance and the release date will be postponed until 2010.

If and when it is released, Detox cannot be like The Aftermath album that came out after The Chronic.  1996 was a bad time for gangster rap.  Tupac died and Mr. Cee from RBL Posse died.  I remember listening to The Aftermath in the parking lot of Tower Records in Sacramento when it came out and I was so bummed out. It is hard to recreate how much it sucked hearing that tape upon first listen. The Chronic 2001 was pretty good though and I can even still rock that album as much as the original Chronic. It was pretty lame of Death Row to release an album called The Chronic 2000 before Dr. Dre could finish Chronic 2001, but the Death Row album was actually even worse than The Aftermath, and by far. I just assume that Death Row does Christian R & B Praise music nowadays and that none of the Death Row people kick it with Dr. Dre anymore.

Whereas Axl is the creator and the executive producer of the Chinese Democracy project, he lacks that raw talent of other musicians to sing on his album. The Talking Heads did it without David Byrne on “No Talking Just Head“, which happened to have the late, great autoerotic asphyxiation superstar Michael HutchenceSebastian Bach is no Snoop Dogg, hell no, but he is Axl Rose’s buddy that happens to sing a song on Chinese DemocracySebastian Bach and Buckethead cannot pull an album together.  Instead of going through conflict resolution training, Axl decided to say “To hell with everyone” that thinks his new music sounds like a bad demo that’s going to an indie rock label to get signed.  Bach sticks up for Axl and is his main advocate.  With a friend like Sebastian Bach, who could go wrong?  I think that Skid Row lacks any of rock’s thunder in this millennium; they are probably touring with Winger.  I actually think that Winger is probably even more likely to release an album than Guns N’ Roses.  I heard Chinese Democracy cuts on the Internet in 2000 and the exact same songs are up.  Not much has changed.  I snuck a video camera into the Tacoma Dome when Guns N’ Roses played there in 2002 and it was some of the worst video footage I have ever shot in my life. You cannot recognize anything, but you can hear the audio. The songs that were on the Internet in 2000 were played at the concert. I know that industrial music was kinda big in the 90s, but it has lost its flavor among the listening public.

I interviewed Mr. Brogger, an avid fan of Dr. Dre, about the “upcoming” album.  He had more to say about it that shed some light on the current fiasco.  He mentioned that Dr. Dre is always in the public eye putting out music for other musicians and explained that Dre often gives away his awesome Detox tracks to other artist like 50 cent and The Game.  This means that we might have already heard what Detox was going to sound like.  Mr. Brogger further told me that “In Da Club” and “Hate it or Love it” were originally beats from Detox.  I get the same ideas in my head about sampling David Lee Roth and inserting his vocals without background music-to-music samples from 5150.

Dr. Dre has the potential to cut his Thriller or to release an album as successful as Snoop Dogg’s Tha Doggfather and I’m hoping that it will be great. It is hard to find songs from Detox on the Internet but I did find one with Mary J Bilge and The Game.  It was o.k but I didn’t jump out of my seat.  The Guns N’ Roses stuff, on the other hand, has been leaked and identified as crap by the majority of those who have listened to it.  “Good” albums just don’t hang out in the studio indefinitely.  Let’s hope that Axl wakes up tomorrow, holds everyone’s hand from the original Guns N’ Roses (prior to Matt Sorum) while singing Chicago’sIt’s Hard For Me To Say I’m Sorry” and puts the video on the internet, in turn, prompting Dr. Dre to call him up with an offer to produce the new Guns N’ Roses tracks.  Michael Jackson and Billy Joel will sign up and Dre will produce everyone including Outkast.  This would then push the Detox release date to 2016.

As for Billy Joel, he decided not to make Disney music throughout the 90s, as it seemed like he was destined to do.  Instead, he went straight to the bottle.  I saw him perform with Elton John at the Tacoma Dome a few years ago and he was haggard.  He did not have any new material, but had no problem doing Beatles covers with EltonJoel played after Elton John, but he lacked the energy of what Elton brought to the stage.  At least Billy Joel can still say that he never sang “Circle of Life“.  I guess that’s why it might be better not to release anything than to release a song that would be the equivalent of a “Can You Feel The Love Tonight” or an I “Don’t Want To Miss A Thang“.  Personally, I don’t want to miss Nuthin’ But A G Thang 2.

I have expected Dr Dre to make an album back in 2005, when 50 Cent and The Game were still on the radio non-stop.  With gangster rap starting to lose the heat that it once had back when Straight Outta Compton or The Chronic came out, Dre is going to have to put out something that is not completely gangster. Perhaps he could get Josh Groban or John Mayer to sing a hook or maybe Dre could get Steven Tyler hooked on pain pills again and record his record while he is detoxing. He could use the samples to drive the album to the top of the charts and Aerosmith could be the backing band of the Up In Smoke 2 tour that is planned to follow the Detox album release. A Guitar Hero game featuring Dr. Dre and Aerosmith would come out for the DS.  It would only be a matter of time.

I found this list of so-called tracks for Detox on a site called Nobodysmiling.com:

1. Intro
2. I’m Back(D.R.E.) ft. Snoop Dogg
3. Rendezvous ft. Busta Rhymes
4. Compton’s Finest ft. The Game
5. Lyrical Dynamo ft. Rakim, Hittman, Ms.Roq
6. That The Way ft. G.A.G.E., Stat Quo
7. Real *****z ft. Kurupt, Ms.Roq, Hittman, Defari, Knoc-Turn’al
8. *****s And b*tches(Skit) ft. Eddie Griffin
9. Raindrops ft. Mary J.Blige
10. Kick Yo Ass ft. Ice Cube, Mc Ren,
11. Pass The Torch ft. Eminem, Nate Dogg
12. Devil’s Gun ft. Kokane
13. You’re Nasty(Skit) ft. Jake Steed
14. Bottles Up ft. 50 Cent
15. Runnin’ Thang ft. Knoc-Turn’al
16. Phone Call(Skit) ft. Eddie Griffin, Traci Nelson
17. It’s Not A Game ft. Bishop Lamont, Xzibit
18. Do It Again ft. Eve, Ms.Roq, Kokane
19. She On The Pole(Skit) Eddie Griffin
20. Cycle of Dre ft. Eminem
21. Things Fall Apart ft. Mary J.Blige, The Game
22. Angle’s Revenge ft. Truth Hurths
23. Inside and Outside ft. Time Bomb T, King T, Mc Ren, Hittman
24. The Sick Bastard ft. Busta Rhymes, Eminem, Kurupt
25. Last Party Tonight ft. Xzibit, Warren G, Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg

In conclusion, you will hear that Detox is coming out.  People have been coming on 106 and Park, this entire decade, claiming that Detox is coming out in “the Fall“.  I was watching BET a week ago and they said that Dr. Dre is getting ready to drop a new album.  I felt like Matthew Fox from Lost and had a flashback and a flash-forward.  In the flashback, I saw the same information on 106 and Park from a year when Mike Jones or Lil John were still relevant.  In the flash-forward, a saw an interview with Dr. Dre about how close he is to dropping Detox.  It was in the next decade. I’m not going to go as far as saying that I’ll buy Dr. Pepper for everyone in the United States if Detox comes out this year, but I do not have enough faith in gangsta rap that it’ll come through on its word.  May gangsta rap fade away once again only to make yet another comeback?

On that point, I thought about ways that gangsta rap as a genre could make another comeback in about 2-3 years.  In the current climate, it is not profitable to make a gangsta rap record for the mainstream.  If you pay over 1/2 million dollars to make a video for a song that you only wrote the rap for and did not make the beat or do any of the production, you will barely be able to repay the video costs after everyone downloads your hit tracks off of the internet for free. I do not realistically see gangsta rap artists going on tours that heavily promote their singles and, without the touring and strong concept albums that attract money, gangsta rap is unsustainable. If gangsta rap gets real gangsta, like Brotha Lynch Hung gangsta, and artists make thug videos on camcorders, it could lead to a media revolution of the genre. It would be more about crime, drugs, and thugger.  That is, it would be more about what is really happening on the street.  The videos will be so low budget and the beats will be low budget too.  It’ll be a little like Master P, but more on the side of embracing the streets through hand held camera movements.  Real thugs would be filmed in their element, the songs would be about a real struggle, and it would be the next generation of gangsta rap.

-Mac Dawg

Mac Dawg

Mac Dawg currently lives in Olympia, Wa.

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