Earlier this week, the numbers for Dr. Dre’s third and final album Compton: A Soundtrack By Dr. Dre were revealed. Of course, they were nothing short of amazing with nearly 300,000 in sales. This doesn’t count my review in which I called the project, “equal parts biopic companion piece and topical insight into West Coast Hip Hop’s greatest success story.” Add Straight Outta Compton’s blockbuster killing spree the past weekend and 2015 is really the year of Dre. Despite the controversy regarding Dee Barnes being left out of the biopic, the Aftermath Entertainment head at least felt remorseful in his recent interview with Rolling Stone. However, Compton does feature two pivotal moments that made me ultra uncomfortable regardless of how sonically near perfect they were.
The first is near Compton’s halfway point in the Xzibit, Cold 187um and Sly Pyper featured “Loose Cannons.” During the track’s last 90 seconds, the man formerly known as Big Hutch shoots a woman pleading for her life before the crew disposes the body. As I mentioned in my review, part of what makes the album so great is how D.R.E. plays with dramatics. “Loose Cannons”s final moments are visceral and quite jarring. Interestingly enough, there simply isn’t anything connecting it to Compton’s overall themes which reach from personal responsibility in reaching one’s goal to police brutality. Why end the track so aimlessly? That’s something that’ll essentially be answered in due time. Right now, there isn’t any metaphorical or thematic context. According to the Center For American Progress however, 34 percent of all women murdered were killed by their romantic partner. Out of that number, 55 percent were killed with guns. Those statistics hit personally. Last year, a man I once considered my mentor put a bullet in his wife’s head before doing the same to himself. During that tail-end of “Loose Cannons,” that’s the first thing that came to mind. In terms of Dre himself, his ex-wife and baby mother Michel’le mentioned something that could be considered attempted murder.
Then there’s this particular line on “Medicine Man” featuring Eminem, Candice Pillay and Anderson .Paak. As Shady spazzes out on the Dem Jointz and Focus produced track, he spits this hair raising bar: “Pain in the ass and get shot in the ass with a paint gun / Ain’t no one safe from, non-believers there ain’t none / I even make the bitches I rape cum.” Let’s be very clear, Em drops one of the best verses one will hear throughout Compton’s 61-minute runtime. But, can this be excusable in 2015? As someone who just proposed to his future wife and thinking about life with kids, I become fearful of potentially bringing a daughter into this world knowing that some find these actions entertaining. Domestically, a woman is raped every 107 seconds and there are an average of 293,000 cases of rape each year in a study done by the U.S. Department of Justice. Yes, I get it. Eminem has spent his entire career pushing buttons. Then again, one would think he’d outgrow that mindset. Who am I to judge though? If he still finds rape comical, it’s his choice.
Compton is a blast from the past with slick modern conventions. The album 16 years in the making totally deserved all the critical and commercial success. Just too bad some archaic ideas of women still remain. The Ural of 15-years past wouldn’t think anything of it. Between then and now, experiences with a variety of people have put certain issues in perspective. No, uncontrollable violence against women shouldn’t be used for empty dramatic effect and rape isn’t funny. Could I be considered hypocritical for enjoying an album that possibly promotes this type of behavior? Maybe. One’s feelings about the musical integrity of a particular work and fucked up ideologies doesn’t necessarily have to be mutually exclusive. If art is an imitation of life, exposing the ugly truths behind the music could at least become one step into fixing a very serious problem.