Dre's exacting sensibility can be heard in his production aesthetic, which has grown increasingly meticulous over the years. On The Chronic, he
favored loose riffs lifted from funk and soul artists. For 2001, he developed a clean, quantized balance of rhythms and melodies.
But in the past few years, his obsession with precision has rendered many of his beats cold and mechanical to the point of lifelessness - the
antithesis of funk. As Ian Cohen wrote in his Pitchfork review of Eminem's 2008
album, Relapse: "Dre has treated production like a test run for his very expensive headphones, concerning himself with only the most inert,
stainless steel sounds."
Beyond Bacharach, the list of artists who have allegedly logged time on Detox is a cavalcade of Billboard heavyweights that includes
Eminem, Jay-Z, Beyonce, R. Kelly, and Lady Gaga, to name a few.
If the hype is to be believed, Detox will be Dre's magnum opus, a true, modern rap classic, something more akin to the Sistine Chapel (which,
incidentally, only took Michelangelo four years to complete) than Chinese Democracy. Should that happen, his protracted creative process will be
vindicated, and the doctor will always be remembered.
The anxiety that people aren't acknowledging his legendary status could be the prime motivation for Dre's perfectionism. The notion that the public has
neglected him has been a theme reiterated often throughout the post-millennial part of his career.
On 2001, we "Forgot About Dre," forcing him to respond that he's the same O.G.—but
he's been low-key—before breaking down his vast inventory of accomplishments (the studio full of tracks; the wall full of plaques hanging up in his
office like trophies; the careers of Snoop Dogg, Easy E, and NWA). On his previous single, he reminded you that he's "Still D.R.E." And on " The Watcher," from the same album, with the tone of a mother, upset that no one complemented
her casserole, he admonished, "I started this gangsta shit, and this the motherfucking thanks I get?"
Asked if Dr. Dre's contentious attitude toward his audience could be related to his perfectionism, Dr. Sherry says it's probably more a product of
"Often times, people who are narcissistic are disappointed with how other people treat them," he says. "Because others don't acknowledge their
so-called brilliance or uniqueness or special talents. And that lends itself to a sort of defensive orientation towards the world where everyone's
attacking you, and everyone's disappointing you."
His most recent single, "I Need a Doctor," advances that narrative to its apotheosis—we need Dre—while inflating his return to almost
The song opens with two melodramatic verses by Eminem, who raps, "you're either getting lazy or you don't believe in you no more... I demand you
remember who you are!" In 2011, even Dre has forgotten about Dre. Finally, vehemently, he emerges for the song's climactic third verse, concluding,
"...I'm back, bastards. One more CD and then I'm packing up my bags, and as I'm leaving I guarantee they'll scream 'Dre, don't leave us like that,
Ultimately, the fact that Detox will be the 46-year-old rap legend's last project could best explain what's taking it so long. It's his swan song, one he hopes will be the perfect last installment in a classic trilogy of hip-hop albums.
So like a pitcher on the mound, winding up for his third strike, a nation of listeners waits to see if Dr. Dre can do it again.