The Very Best of Death Row

Artist: Various ArtistsTitle: The Very Best of Death RowRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Max Herman

With their introduction of G-Funk to the world, the artists of Death Row Records dominated urban radio and music video shows from early-‘93 to late-‘94. With the easygoing, Parliament-inspired vibes, comprehensible lyrics and sing-a-long choruses of singles like Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” and Snoop’s “Gin and Juice,” even some strictly East Coast Hip-hop heads didn’t want the party to end. Only a few years later, the signing of 2Pac kept Tha Row in heavy rotation until ’96. The Very Best of Death Row (Death Row) is a collection of (mostly) classics that is sure to bring back memories of when these songs from Dre, Snoop, Pac and company had the airwaves on lock.

Executive Producer and Death Row founder Suge Knight handpicked the thirteen songs featured here (plus a new bonus track, “Off The Chain” from latest signee Petey Pablo & Kurupt), and his selections shouldn’t disappoint. While Dr. Dre was the first one to feature acts like Snoop and Kurupt, the G-Funk era was a time when these younger West Coast MCs were introduced on a larger level as solo acts. And these cuts are all present, from Snoop’s party-starting theme song “Who Am I (What’s My Name)” to Warren G and crooner Nate Dogg’s melodic hit “Regulate.” But as the catchy cruising song, “Let Me Ride” proves, Dr. Dre was not to be outdone either.

While Death Row exploded from their party-inducing singles, for better or worse, they also became notorious for their part in the East Coast versus West Coast drama. And as tracks like “Against All Odds”-in which 2Pac blatantly and brutally calls out Nas and others-are included, it’s clear that Suge isn’t trying to hide their part in the war. On the lighter side of the battle was Tha Dogg Pound’s “New York, New York,” which was more tongue-in-cheek than scathing. Neither Kurupt nor Snoop took any personal shots here, but this song was enough to infuriate some high-profile East Coast MCs.

All in all Suge did a good job of compiling the best material that his label brought to the table. Although, it’s hard not to wonder why quality fan favorites like Snoop’s introspective “Murder Was The Case” are nowhere to be found on this collection while less memorable songs like Tha Dogg Pound’s “What Would You Do” are. Aside from a couple of questionable selections The Very Best of Death Row lives up to its title. It couldn’t have been released at a better time since many of these songs were summer anthems and this compilation should serve as a trip down memory lane for many listeners. If you weren’t one of the millions who picked up albums like Doggystyle or The Chronic, now’s the time to relive the classics of the early-90s, while artists like Dr. Dre prepare to release new material (albeit not on Death Row). If you weren’t around to catch there songs when they were first released and embraced by the mainstream (read: MTV), this is a great starting point to get caught up with Tha Row.