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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released February 23, 2018 | Death Row Records

Booklet
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Christmas Music - Released October 9, 2007 | Death Row Records

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released August 23, 2005 | Death Row Records

The 2005 release of Kurupt's Against tha Grain was surrounded by drama. It was promised in early 2004 and then delayed, and it's the reunion of the snarling rapper and Suge Knight's Death Row, a label suffering a decade-long dry spell after dominating the early '90s. The album itself is strong -- well rounded and slick but with sharp teeth and a hard ghetto punch. When the album addresses the Death Row drama -- utilizing some old rhymes by the late 2Pac for "My Homeboys (Back to Back)," overusing up-and-comer, label signee Eastwood -- things slow down a bit. Front loading all your highlights isn't the greatest idea either, but they're slamming highlights and lead to the album's darker and still satisfying second half. "Throw Back Muzic '86" is the kind of ghetto-sentimental "back in the day" club banger that gets you on the radio and restores all your street-cred in one swoop. Less contrived are the venomous and completely aware "Speak on It," the bitter and tense "Anarchy '87," and the claustrophobic stomper "Deep Dishes," but "Stalkin'" takes the cake. On the track, West Coast producer Sir Jinx proves that he just isn't heralded enough by layering jump rope chanting teen girls over a loop by cult Krautrockers Can. It's a very non-Suge Knight moment, but the scrappy Kurupt might be showing him the way with this album. Against tha Grain recalls when gutter creativity and phat West Coast beats were the label's bread and butter and all the driven music steamrolled over the competition with little concern for what people -- or the boss for that matter -- were sayin'. Taking the label from here is up to Suge since there's plenty of evidence Kurupt is hungry enough to dominate with or without him and by any boot-to-the-head means necessary. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released August 23, 2005 | Death Row Records

The 2005 release of Kurupt's Against tha Grain was surrounded by drama. It was promised in early 2004 and then delayed, and it's the reunion of the snarling rapper and Suge Knight's Death Row, a label suffering a decade-long dry spell after dominating the early '90s. The album itself is strong -- well rounded and slick but with sharp teeth and a hard ghetto punch. When the album addresses the Death Row drama -- utilizing some old rhymes by the late 2Pac for "My Homeboys (Back to Back)," overusing up-and-comer, label signee Eastwood -- things slow down a bit. Front loading all your highlights isn't the greatest idea either, but they're slamming highlights and lead to the album's darker and still satisfying second half. "Throw Back Muzic '86" is the kind of ghetto-sentimental "back in the day" club banger that gets you on the radio and restores all your street-cred in one swoop. Less contrived are the venomous and completely aware "Speak on It," the bitter and tense "Anarchy '87," and the claustrophobic stomper "Deep Dishes," but "Stalkin'" takes the cake. On the track, West Coast producer Sir Jinx proves that he just isn't heralded enough by layering jump rope chanting teen girls over a loop by cult Krautrockers Can. It's a very non-Suge Knight moment, but the scrappy Kurupt might be showing him the way with this album. Against tha Grain recalls when gutter creativity and phat West Coast beats were the label's bread and butter and all the driven music steamrolled over the competition with little concern for what people -- or the boss for that matter -- were sayin'. Taking the label from here is up to Suge since there's plenty of evidence Kurupt is hungry enough to dominate with or without him and by any boot-to-the-head means necessary. © David Jeffries /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 22, 2003 | Death Row Records

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 22, 2003 | Death Row Records

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released May 1, 2001 | Death Row Records

Before the release of tha Dogg Pound's debut album, Dogg Food, various conservative organizations attacked the record for being exceedingly violent and vulgar, pressuring Warner Bros. not to release the album. Not only did the company agree, it also sold off all of its interests in Interscope Records. Of course, that didn't stop the album from being released -- Interscope signed a distribution deal with Priority Records. It's ironic that Dogg Food caused so much controversy, because, musically, the album is a very conservative piece of gangsta rap. Essentially, Dogg Food is the third rewrite of Dr. Dre's The Chronic, following Snoop Doggy Dogg's Doggystyle and the Murder Was the Case soundtrack. Even though Dr. Dre is only listed as an executive producer, his influence is all over the album, as Dat Nigga Daz faithfully reproduces all of the elements of Dre's trademark G-funk style -- slow, loping beats, deep, elastic rhythms, the occasional wail from a female singer, and layers of cheap, whiny synthesizers. Not only is the music numbingly familiar, the lyrics are pedestrian as well, chronicling the typical complaints and fantasies of gangsta rap, which would have been fine if Dat Nigga Daz and Kurupt were compelling rappers with a distinctive style of their own. But they're not -- they're monotonous and predictable, never once breathing life into the material. Three years after The Chronic, neither Dr. Dre nor his protégés have found a way to expand on his groundbreaking work. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Soundtracks - Released May 1, 2001 | Death Row Records

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released May 1, 2001 | Death Row Records

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released May 1, 2001 | Death Row Records

Come the spring of 1998, Death Row was a mighty lonely place. Dr. Dre had been gone for nearly two years, Snoop Dogg enlisted in the No Limit army, 2pac was dead, Suge was in jail. Only Dat Nigga Daz -- now known as Daz Dillinger -- remained, and he was determined to keep the Death Row torch burning with his first solo album, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back. It's a bit better than tha Dogg Pound's disappointing 1995 effort Dogg Food, but it finds Daz in an awkward position. He does what he does -- namely, G-funk -- well, but in 1998 G-funk is an anachronism. True, Master P built upon the G-funk sound (no matter how much he would like to deny it), but his stripped-down, cheap productions are the sound of the late '90s -- the loping beats and whiny synths of G-funk belong to the early '90s. And that's where Daz is stuck, no matter how you look at it. If you look past that, however, Retaliation, Revenge and Get Back is a solid record that delivers exactly what it promises -- straight-up gangsta rap, nothing more and nothing less. There are no surprises, but few albums since Doggystyle have given the G-funk audience exactly what they want as Retaliation does. By that standard, Daz's debut is a success. © Leo Stanley /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released May 1, 2001 | Death Row Records

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 24, 2001 | Death Row Records

A lot happened to Snoop Doggy Dogg between his debut, Doggystyle, and his second album, Tha Doggfather. During those three years, he became the most notorious figure in hip-hop through a much-publicized murder trial, where he was found not guilty, and he also became a father. Musically, the most important thing to happen to Snoop was the parting of ways between his mentor Dr. Dre and his record label, Death Row. Dre's departure from Death Row meant that Snoop had to handle the production duties on Tha Doggfather himself, and the differences between the two records are immediately apparent. Though it works the same G-funk territory, the bass is less elastic and there is considerably less sonic detail. In essence, all of the music on Tha Doggfather reworks the funk and soul of the late '70s and early '80s, without updating it too much -- there's not that much difference between "Snoop's Upside Ya Head" and "Oops Up Side Your Head," for instance. Though the music isn't original, and the lyrics break no new territory, the execution is strong -- Snoop's rapping and rhyming continue to improve, while the bass-heavy funk is often intoxicating. At over 70 minutes, Tha Doggfather runs too long to not have several filler tracks, but if you ignore those cuts, the album is a fine follow-up to one of the most successful hip-hop albums in history. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released April 24, 2001 | Death Row Records

A lot happened to Snoop Doggy Dogg between his debut, Doggystyle, and his second album, Tha Doggfather. During those three years, he became the most notorious figure in hip-hop through a much-publicized murder trial, where he was found not guilty, and he also became a father. Musically, the most important thing to happen to Snoop was the parting of ways between his mentor Dr. Dre and his record label, Death Row. Dre's departure from Death Row meant that Snoop had to handle the production duties on Tha Doggfather himself, and the differences between the two records are immediately apparent. Though it works the same G-funk territory, the bass is less elastic and there is considerably less sonic detail. In essence, all of the music on Tha Doggfather reworks the funk and soul of the late '70s and early '80s, without updating it too much -- there's not that much difference between "Snoop's Upside Ya Head" and "Oops Up Side Your Head," for instance. Though the music isn't original, and the lyrics break no new territory, the execution is strong -- Snoop's rapping and rhyming continue to improve, while the bass-heavy funk is often intoxicating. At over 70 minutes, Tha Doggfather runs too long to not have several filler tracks, but if you ignore those cuts, the album is a fine follow-up to one of the most successful hip-hop albums in history. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released March 13, 2001 | Death Row Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
If Snoop Dogg's debut, Doggystyle, doesn't seem like a debut, it's because in many ways it's not. Snoop had already debuted as a featured rapper on Dr. Dre's 1992 album, The Chronic, rapping on half of the 16 tracks, including all the hit singles, so it wasn't like he was an unknown force when Doggystyle was released in late 1993. If anything, he was the biggest star in hip-hop, with legions of fans anxiously awaiting new material, and they were the ones who snapped up the album, making it the first debut album to enter the Billboard charts at number one. It wasn't like they were buying an unknown quantity. They knew that the album would essentially be the de facto sequel to The Chronic, providing another round of P-Funk-inspired grooves and languid gangsta and ganja tales, just like Dre's album. Which is exactly what Doggystyle is -- a continuation of The Chronic, with the same production, same aesthetic and themes, and same reliance on guest rappers. The miracle is, it's as good as that record. There are two keys to its success, one belonging to Dre, the other to Snoop. Dre realized that it wasn't time to push the limits of G-funk, and instead decided to deepen it musically, creating easy-rolling productions that have more layers than they appear. They're laid-back funky, continuing to resonate after many listens, but their greatest strength is that they never overshadow the laconic drawl of Snoop, who confirms that he's one of hip-hop's greatest vocal stylists with this record. Other gangsta rappers were all about aggression and anger -- even Dre, as a rapper, is as blunt as a thug -- but Snoop takes his time, playing with the flow of his words, giving his rhymes a nearly melodic eloquence. Compare his delivery to many guest rappers here: Nate Dogg, Kurupt, and Dat Nigga Daz are all good rappers, but they're good in a conventional sense, where Snoop is something special, with unpredictable turns of phrase, evocative imagery, and a distinctive, addictive flow. If Doggystyle doesn't surprise or offer anything that wasn't already on The Chronic, it nevertheless is the best showcase for Snoop's prodigious talents, not just because he's given the room to run wild, but because he knows what to do with that freedom and Dre presents it all with imagination and a narrative thrust. If it doesn't have the shock of the new, the way that The Chronic did, so be it: Over the years, the pervasive influence of that record and its countless ripoffs has dulled its innovations, so it doesn't have the shock of the new either. Now, Doggystyle and The Chronic stand proudly together as the twin pinnacles of West Coast G-funk hip-hop of the early '90s. © Stephen Thomas Erlewine /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released March 13, 2001 | Death Row Records

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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released March 6, 2001 | Death Row Records

Maybe it was his time in prison, or maybe it was simply his signing with Suge Knight's Death Row label. Whatever the case, 2Pac re-emerged hardened and hungry with All Eyez on Me, the first double-disc album of original material in hip-hop history. With all the controversy surrounding him, 2Pac seemingly wanted to throw down a monumental epic whose sheer scope would make it an achievement of itself. But more than that, it's also an unabashed embrace of the gangsta lifestyle, backing off the sober self-recognition of Me Against the World. Sure, there are a few reflective numbers and dead-homiez tributes, but they're much more romanticized this time around. All Eyez on Me is 2Pac the thug icon in all his brazen excess, throwing off all self-control and letting it all hang out -- even if some of it would have been better kept to himself. In that sense, it's an accurate depiction of what made him such a volatile and compelling personality, despite some undeniable filler. On the plus side, this is easily the best production he's ever had on record, handled mostly by Johnny J (notably on the smash "How Do U Want It") and Dat Nigga Daz; Dr. Dre also contributes another surefire single in "California Love" (which, unfortunately, is present only as a remix, not the original hit version). Both hits are on the front-loaded first disc, which would be a gangsta classic in itself; other highlights include the anthemic Snoop Dogg duet "2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted," "All About U" (with the required Nate Dogg-sung hook), and "I Ain't Mad at Cha," a tribute to old friends who've gotten off the streets. Despite some good moments, the second disc is slowed by filler and countless guest appearances, plus a few too many thug-lovin' divas crooning their loyalty. Erratic though it may be, All Eyez on Me is nonetheless carried off with the assurance of a legend in his own time, and it stands as 2Pac's magnum opus. © Steve Huey /TiVo
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released December 15, 1992 | Death Row Records

Hi-Res
Dr. Dre's The Chronic is so much more than just a rap record. Released in December, 1992, this 16 track opus was Dre's debut as solo artist and the first album to be released on Death Row Records, the label he founded with "Suge" Knight and The D.O.C. Both events signalled the end for one of the genre's most important and influential groups in N.W.A., and the start of a new era in hip-hop. Dre opted to use more live instruments on The Chronic in order to give himself more control over samples, ultimately redefining the West coast sound. The birth of G-funk introduced new faces, most notably rapper Snoop Dogg who provided the answer to Dre's writing concerns after The D.O.C. suffered serious vocal damage in a car accident. Following the album's intro, Snoop's funky, laid back voice is featured on Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin'), cooly expressing the animosity between Death Row and Dre's former team members.The Death Row roster (including Warren G, Nate Dogg, Samara, Bushwick Bill) features heavily, mixing and matching and taking turns to lay down their bars over Dre's beats. The largest collaborative effort comes on Stranded on Death Row on which RBX, Snoop, The Lady of Rage and Kurupt sound as if they're taking turns to show their worth as rappers to the man behind the glass screen. Lil' Ghetto Boy and A N**** Witta Gun (the only track on which Dre is the sole artist) outline the realities of life for the marginalized and what it takes to survive when you're victimized by those who are supposed to protect you.The Chronic's crown jewel, and arguably the king of all G-Funk, is the iconic Nuthin' but a ‘G' Thang. Its high pitched synth melody, deep bassline and back and forth between Snoop and Dre add up to one of the most recognizable tracks in all of rap, cementing Dr. Dre's status as one of the genre's greatest producers and getting the ball rolling for Death Row Records. © Euan Decourt/Qobuz
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Hip-Hop/Rap - Released December 15, 1992 | Death Row Records

Hi-Res
Dr. Dre's The Chronic is so much more than just a rap record. Released in December, 1992, this 16 track opus was Dre's debut as solo artist and the first album to be released on Death Row Records, the label he founded with "Suge" Knight and The D.O.C. Both events signalled the end for one of the genre's most important and influential groups in N.W.A., and the start of a new era in hip-hop. Dre opted to use more live instruments on The Chronic in order to give himself more control over samples, ultimately redefining the West coast sound. The birth of G-funk introduced new faces, most notably rapper Snoop Dogg who provided the answer to Dre's writing concerns after The D.O.C. suffered serious vocal damage in a car accident. Following the album's intro, Snoop's funky, laid back voice is featured on Fuck Wit Dre Day (And Everybody's Celebratin'), cooly expressing the animosity between Death Row and Dre's former team members.The Death Row roster (including Warren G, Nate Dogg, Samara, Bushwick Bill) features heavily, mixing and matching and taking turns to lay down their bars over Dre's beats. The largest collaborative effort comes on Stranded on Death Row on which RBX, Snoop, The Lady of Rage and Kurupt sound as if they're taking turns to show their worth as rappers to the man behind the glass screen. Lil' Ghetto Boy and A N**** Witta Gun (the only track on which Dre is the sole artist) outline the realities of life for the marginalized and what it takes to survive when you're victimized by those who are supposed to protect you.The Chronic's crown jewel, and arguably the king of all G-Funk, is the iconic Nuthin' but a ‘G' Thang. Its high pitched synth melody, deep bassline and back and forth between Snoop and Dre add up to one of the most recognizable tracks in all of rap, cementing Dr. Dre's status as one of the genre's greatest producers and getting the ball rolling for Death Row Records. © Euan Decourt/Qobuz