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Andre Young is undoubtedly one of hip-hop’s greatest producers, but this has made him one of the most frustating, with his painstaking perfectionism resulting in only two solo albums over a 25 year career and a much anticipated third that has been repeatedly pushed back. With the slight fear that the great Dr. Dre may be remembered more for his headphones than his music (not to mention the fun of going through a stellar back catalogue) we’ve picked ten of his best productions since the release of ‘The Chronic: 2001’ in 1999.
1. Eminem – The Real Slim Shady (2000)
One of the saving graces from Dre’s downtime has been his A&R, and signing Eminem was a real power move. The Detroit rapper dominated the turn of the decade with his raw, confrontational style and, back by spare masterpieces like this one, it’s not hard to see why.
2. Dr. Dre & DJ Quik ft. Mimi – ‘Put It On Me’ (2001)
Released on the official soundtrack to the movie ‘Training Day’, this collaboration with fellow legend DJ Quik is characteristic of Dre at the time, with its eerie whine, strong strings and crisp keyboard punches.
3. Eve ft. Gwen Stefani – ‘Let Me Blow Ya Mind’ (2001)
An all-round bouncier affair, the excellent ‘Let Me Blow Ya Mind’ carried on the sexy G-funk sound thanks to the sleek rapper Eve and No Doubt’s Gwen Stefani.
4. Mary J. Blige – ‘Family Affair’ (2001)
A further step into pop territory, this hit single with Mary J. Blige combined tense strings and an anthemic, comeback narrative to devastating effect.
5. Busta Rhymes – ‘Break Ya Neck’ (2001)
As great as he sounded paired with the majestic Blige, Dre, assisted by favoured collaborator Scott Storch, showed his teeth with the harsh ‘Break Ya Neck’ – still one of motor-mouth Busta Rhymes’ most memorable performances.
6. 50 Cent – ‘In Da Club’ (2003)
The A&R onion showed another layer when Eminem signed underground star 50 Cent to his Shady imprint. 50’s first official single was a triumphant introduction with a cool confident that could only be supported by content as strong as this.
7. Gwen Stefani ft. Eve – ‘Rich Girl’ (2003)
Revisiting their successful collaboration from a couple of years earlier, this Caribbean-tinged, ‘Fiddler on the Roof’-adapting wasn’t as cool as their first but was more direct and remained a whole lot of fun.
8. The Game ft. 50 Cent – ‘How We Do’ (2004)
Possible the last great hit of Dre’s early 2000 era – ‘How We Do’ wasn’t quite as striking as the Cool & Dre produced ‘Hate It or Love It’ from the same album but its minimal menace acts as the perfect counterpoint.
9. Raekwon ft. Lyfe Jennings – ‘Catalina’ (2009)
Incorporating more Island influences and melding a stretching West Coast mentality with Wu Tang member Raekwon’s claustrophic New York mappings, this track on ‘Only 4 Cuban Linx Pt. 2’ is testament to the producer’s versatility.
10. T.I. – Popped Off (2012)
The final track on T.I.‘s January mixtape ‘Fuck Da City Up’ is far more lush than the other on the tracks on this list but the studio craft is clear. The sampling is brilliant and the mixing is second to none; Dre promises to flood the streets with new material on his featured verse so, fingers still crossed eh?