After 16 years, Dr. Dre finally returned this August with the brand new album Compton. The legendary Aftermath Entertainment founder’s third and supposedly final studio LP brought together some of the leading minds in songwriting, production, and artistic development.
Among the many talents that contributed to the making of Compton: A Soundtrack By Dr. Dre were singer-songwriter Anderson .Paak, producer Bernard “Focus…” Edwards, and A&R coordinator Andrew “Drewski” Corria. Each of those Aftermath affiliates played a significant role in the final 16-track project which opened with 276,000 copies sold it its first week.
AllHipHop.com conducted separate interviews with Paak, Focus…, and Drewski to ask each of them about the possible cultural impact of the album inspired by N.W.A's biopic Straight Outta Compton. The three Aftermath insiders also offered their thoughts about working with Dr. Dre and hearing the homage to his hometown for the first time.
[ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Anderson .Paak Talks Going From Being Homeless To Being Featured On Dr. Dre’s ‘Compton’]
Your Most Memorable Moment Working With Dr. Dre On Compton
Anderson .Paak: Doing the music and everything was cool, but sometimes when we were just chilling and drinking we’ll go work on a song, and I'll just talk to him about music. I asked him to break down the story of when they were recording [“Deep Cover”]. He told me, “We did that sh*t on a broken bass in a room with Snoop.”
He told me they originally did “Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” to “I Can’t Go For That.” That uptempo, soul pop song. It was going to be this disco type song. They actually did a demo to it, and Snoop recorded that sh*t from jail. I guess I could have got that story from wiki, but I heard that sh*t from him. Those type of stories, I nerd out over.
For example, hearing how he had The Chronic and was shopping it everywhere. People were laughing at him. People told him it was garbage to his face. He went home to his apartment with Nate Dogg and was like “I don’t know.” He was second guessing himself… Dre… The Chronic album! That’s sh*t is fuel to the flame for me.
Andrew Corria: Honestly, it’s so many moments. I’ll sum it up into one statement: just seeing Dr. Dre make a song, seeing him work, and seeing his work ethic is one of the most amazing things.
He has it all - financially, with his legacy. He’s a little bit older than most artists, but he’s the most humble, down to earth dude. And he works harder than anyone I've ever seen. He has every reason not to work his butt off, but he does. It’s just amazing to see.
Focus...: When it came out, that was probably one of the highest moments I’ve ever been in my whole career. Just to see how the world responded to it when I saw it go live on iTunes. We had an amazing amount of pre-orders, and they didn’t hear any music. That was just awe-inspiring.
One Thing You Learned About Dr. Dre Through The Process Of Creating Compton
Anderson .Paak: He’s a perfectionist in its truest form. He’s got to have it done right. That’s almost a dying art at this point. I meet less and less people that are like that. I meet more people that are down to just put out sh*t.
To be a perfectionist in this age is something to be in awe of. For someone who can actually afford to do it - it’s crazy to be around. He goes hard for everything - everything!
Andrew Corria: He’s very down to earth, super cool. I've met a lot of people that have done ¼ of what he’s done, and I see how they act and treat people. It’s like, “If Dre can be super cool and humble, why can’t you?”
Focus...: What I learned was more about the process that makes him Dr. Dre. It was amazing to watch him work. I’ve never seen him go through the whole thing and then finish the project.
I’ve always seen him mix other people’s projects, but I’ve never seen this. I’ve never seen a whole project from top to bottom go out the door. That was probably one of the greatest learning experiences I've ever seen. Seeing him creating, rapping, orchestrating, mixing, mastering - I’ve never seen it like this before. It was really, really amazing.
[ALSO READ: EXCLUSIVE: Aftermath A&R Coordinator Andrew Corria Talks Working On Dr. Dre’s ‘Compton’ Album]
Your Initial Reaction When You Heard The Completed Compton Album
Anderson .Paak: I thought it was just a true work of art. I had a lot of respect for it. He didn’t care about making a single or any of that sh*t. I thought this is Dre adapting to the times. Not only still staying true and still evolving, but even the method of how he did it. He did that album in a few months.
He was just going off his inspiration from the movie, so he went in to make a brand new album. He had enough balls to scrap 10 years of work on another album [Detox]. He said, “F*ck it. I’m just going to start from scratch. I’m not going to over think it. I’m just going to do it.”
That’s how people make music now. That was Dre’s way of doing that. I loved it, and I’m so happy and proud to be part of that sh*t.
Andrew Corria: I remember the day it was available to stream. It was amazing to hear it outside of the studio. It was just like, “Wow, I was a part of this great piece of art?”
Focus...: At that moment I got to listen to it as a fan. Honestly, it was amazing. I guess you don’t hear it for real until you hear it with other ears. I can’t listen to it with my producer ears. I have to listen to it as a fan, and that was a great moment to hear it all together with the skits and everything. It was amazing.
What Do You Think The Cultural Impact Of Compton Will Be?
Anderson .Paak: Time will show. We’ll see if it sticks. I think it’ll stick. Dre put out a dope album for the time. He’s showing how he can get down in this era. “This is how people are doing it? Alright, I’m going to show you how to do it.” We’ll see if people are still banging that sh*t.
It’s like when Miles Davis was still putting out music in the 90’s. He didn’t give a f*ck. They were talking sh*t about him too, all the way to his grave. But he didn’t give a sh*t. He kept putting out music in every era. And he wasn’t interested in doing the same thing twice.
That’s what I was super proud of too. Dre was taking a risk with this album - vocally and production wise - while staying true to what he wanted to do. He got the features from who he wanted. It was all him. That’s how it will affect the culture. Do sh*t how you want to do it, and it’s never too late to drop some sh*t.
Andrew Corria: I feel like for a lot of people it’s a lot easier to make music now. I don’t think there’s as much money in it as it used to be with streaming and leaking, so people don’t put as much time and effort into it anymore.
To see him take months to put a project out and really put his heart and soul into it - you can hear it in the music. I hope that’s one of the things that impacts music - people put more effort into making music.
Culturally, I feel like with a lot of the stuff talked about - as far as Black Lives Matter - it helps to shed a bigger light on everything. The song “Animals” could do that. I’ve even seen YouTube videos with that song playing in the background. It’s powerful to see.
Focus...: I think it was a necessity. I think people that are trying to pick it apart are picking it apart because they don’t understand it. But if they listen to it for what it is - an art piece - and they see that we’re trying to push the level of where music is now to a bar where it hasn’t been set at in a minute, I think people would appreciate the fact that we’re at least putting more effort, musicality, and production value into a project than a lot of these newer artists are doing.
Hopefully, it will help things turn around. Even if the new artists start to mimic or copy, at least they’re putting more production value into their projects. Hopefully, it will start to set the bar and set a trend.
Purchase Dr. Dre’s Compton on iTunes.