When I was young, I thought of hip-hop and rock as opposing genres of music. Standing firmly in the rock camp, I upheld the values of “true musicians” and shunned the talentless rappers who stole their music from others. The Chronic single-handedly changed that for me. While I already enjoyed selections from N.W.A, Notorious B.I.G., and Eminem, The Chronic forced me to re-evaluate my stance on hip-hop through Dr. Dre’s ingenious production, breakthrough arrangement, and top-notch rapping from both Dre and his guests.
I hesitate to define The Chronic’s genre as g-funk, the hip-hop variation on George Clinton’s p-funk, because this record invented the genre. While previous albums certainly imposed rapping onto Parliament and Funkadelic samples, none had the lasting impact and artistic ingenuity of The Chronic. This record is not a g-funk record, but the g-funk record.
What sets The Chronic apart from other g-funk records is Dre’s ability not only to sample great p-funk tracks, but to alter these tracks in a way which transforms them into entirely new songs. Not satisfied to steal the work of George Clinton, Dre wanted to use Clinton’s work to create something new and exciting. “Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’)” combines “Atomic Dog” by George Clinton, “(Not Just) Knee Deep” by Funkadelic, and “Funkentelechy,” “The Big Bang Theory” and “Aqua Boogie (A Psychoalphadiscobetabioaquadoloop)” by Parliament into a single track that alters the key and tempo of the songs to create a new masterpiece featuring vocals from Dr. Dre himself, Dre’s protégé Snoop Dogg, RBX, and Jewell.
“Let Me Ride” continues in the P-Funk sampling tradition while “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” strays from this theme to create perhaps the most infectious hip-hop track of all time. “Lil’ Ghetto Boy” showcases the softer songwriting of Dre, Snoop, and D.O.C. and “Lyrical Gangbang” showcases the talents of The Lady Of Rage and Kurupt while sampling “When The Levee Breaks” by Led Zeppelin. “The Roach (The Chronic Outro)” starts to wind the album down with more P-funk samples.
The Chronic stands as the true middle-point between funk and hip-hop. Fans of old-school funk can enjoy the record as a series variations upon the classic genre, while fans of hip-hop need only to explore the extensive list of the record’s samples to discover a rich world of quality music.