Why The Chronic Is the Greatest Album in Rap History
Lead single "Nuthin' But a G Thing" never left MTV rotation and became the nation's go-to party soundtrack. It went mainstream without losing its subversive edge.
Snoop and Dre may have terrified parents and even many of their fans, but they were embraced because they were funky and larger than life. They did for gangsta rap what Michael Jackson's Thriller did for black pop -- shatter glass ceilings and rewire the national zeitgeist.
No great rap album has ever been so influential. It electrified Death Row's reign and introduced the world to the hydroponic slang of South Central. Suburban adolescents suddenly dreamed of being G's in baggy jeans and Raiders caps, flipping switches in a 6-4 Chevy -- red to be exact.
From San Diego to the Bay, G-Funk became the de facto sound of most commercial West Coast street rap until the middle years of the next decade. Its influence spread to the sound of the South and Midwest, too -- listen to the serpentine synth whines on Master P's "Bout It Bout It" and you can hear Dr. Dre's inspiration.
"The Chronic set the bar. If you wasn't bumping it, you wasn't bumping shit. Even New Yorkers knew that," says Freddie Gibbs, the current best gangsta rapper, who felt the record's effect on his native Gary, Ind. "A lot of rappers today brag that they're going to make their Chronic. But they won't. That was a one-time thing."See also: The Miseducation of Freddie Gibbs
Even if you weren't down from day one, listening to The Chronic can still transport you into a foreign but familiar world. The street signs and stresses might look the same, but it is a land where the smoke never stops and the Slauson Indoor Swap Meet is always open. Maybe Snoop said it best: Perfection was perfected.