Detox: The Fabled Album

In the 2000s and 2010s, there was consistent talk about an album called Detox. Detox would have been Dr. Dre’s third album following his prior two classic albums. The name Detox was throughout a plethora of songs and interviews since the 2000s. The album was supposed to be a huge event that would have featured many artists in an attempt to make one of the world’s most hyped albums. But alas, this album never came to be. However, the album has an interesting history spanning at least a decade since it’s announcement. Detox may have never been made, but we can ponder about what could have been and why it never came out.

Dr. Dre was at the top of his game in 1999 when he released his album 2001. This album was a followup to his 1992 classic The Chronic and stood as a testament to the skills and sounds that Dr. Dre could bring to the table as a solo artist. With both albums being a success, it was pertinent for Dr. Dre to campaign for his third album as being a big deal. In doing so rappers such as Eminem, 50 Cent, and Dr. Dre himself would continuously promise that Detox was on its way. While this never happened, we did see some singles from the album. Songs such as I Need A Doctor and Kush were surefire indicators that the album was coming soon, however, those singles never amounted to anything other than being quality releases from Dr. Dre. Supposed work on Detox was also done during a busy time for Dr. Dre due to him producing for major artists and eventual Beats Headphones involvement years later. Seemingly, Dr. Dre wouldn’t have an ample amount of time to produce the album and thus each year the release date was pushed back another year until it was indefinitely delayed.

With the album’s release date nowhere in sight, fans wondered what Dr. ordered. With Detox being postponed, Dr. Dre continued to work in the background doing production and guest features here and there until 2015. After no word of Detox or any other albums, Dr. Dre surprised everyone when he announced Compton was coming out. Compton was released on August 7th, 2015 and serves as Dr. Dre’s true third album. The album was made in conjunction with the N.W.A film Straight Outta Compton. With both film and album being overwhelmingly received well by critics Dr. Dre seemingly proved that 16 years later he still had his touch. Compton is said to be a derivative of the original Detox album thus potentially ending the search for the lost album. With Detox never coming to fruition we were gifted with Compton instead.

16 years of waiting led up to a stellar album in Compton, however, it wasn’t Detox nor was it what Detox could be. Detox had the potential to be one of the greatest hip-hop albums of all time with Dr. Dre’s production and his connections. While we never got Detox and probably never will, hip-hop has a legendary tale of the mythical album. I do hope one day we get a taste of what else Detox was supposed to contain but until then we must wait once more. While it may or may not ever come out, Detox will always serve as hip-hop’s greatest fabled album.

Hip-hop’s Greatest Debut Album/Hip-hop’s Greatest Tragedy

How would you feel if you lost everything you worked for in an instant? This was the case with The D.O.C. in 1989. Shortly after releasing his debut album, The D.O.C. was involved in a car accident which resulted in the loss of his voice. The D.O.C. is arguably one of the greatest rappers and wordsmiths alive, however, when he lost his voice that all changed. Only one album was made before the accident and in my opinion, it is hip-hop’s greatest debut album. No One Can Do It Better is a classic but above all else serves as a reminder of how well The D.O.C. could perform before the accident.

No One Can Do It Better was released on August 1, 1989, under the production of Eazy-E and Dr. Dre. Ironically, for an album produced by members of the N.W.A the only “moderately explicit” song on the album is the one that actually features N.W.A. The D.O.C. took a very clean approach when it came to making this album and decided to showcase his prowess in rapping rather than gloating about his life. The D.O.C. also notably wrote every song on the album himself which compared to today’s standards is extraordinary. Not only could he rap elegantly and quickly, but The D.O.C. was also great at his delivery skills. Every line spoken feels powerful as he glides across the beat and not only highlighting his skills but also the work of Dr. Dre. Songs such as “Portrait of a Masterpiece”, “The Formula”, and “Whirlwind Pyramid” are just a few of the many songs where the beat and lyrics match perfectly to create some of the most impeccable works of art. However, while No One Can Do It Better is one of my favorite albums it’s success could never be duplicated.

In 1996, The D.O.C. tried to return 7 years later with the release of Helter Skelter and then 14 years later with Deuce. Both albums are valiant efforts for someone with a damaged larynx, however, the vocal damage set The D.O.C. back in terms of ability. Recently, The D.O.C. has revealed that he’s working on another album and has regained more of his voice than he used to. If this album ever comes out it would mark approximately 30 years since his debut album in 1989. Given that The D.O.C. has the writing, lyricism, and production all taken care of, this album could be miraculous. But until then, The D.O.C. remains as hip-hop’s greatest tragedy. The man who lost his career and who had the smoothest and swiftest voice in hip-hop will one day rise again, however, this time it’ll be just a little different than it was in 1989.

808s & Heartbreak: Welcome to Heartbreak

808s & Heartbreak is the prelude to what hip-hop music would become in the late 2000s into the 2010s. Kanye West created the album out of sorrow and sadness of his failed relationships and the passing of his mother Donda West. These factors drove a young Kanye to branch out and break the norms he had previously set within his previous albums. 808s & Heartbreak is a pop album through and through, however, it is forged by one of the most prominent rappers of all time. By combining his multifarious knowledge of writing and producing along with an inner desire and passion to express himself, Kanye West changed the face of hip-hop forever with 808s & Heartbreak.

Before 808s & Heartbreak, there had been emotional albums and songs from the hip-hop genre, however, none of them could surmount the narrative that Kanye West culminated in 2008. Before 808s & Heartbreakrappers such as 2Pac, Eminem, and Geto Boys were at the forefront when it came to emotional rap until the end of 2008. Kanye West set out to express himself and his feelings on the album and that is exactly what 808s & Heartbreak is. By switching his singing with auto-tune, Kanye set the guidelines for the future of hip-hop. Kanye West would even seek out T-Pain for advice on the program. Since Kanye West took this simple yet polished approach to auto-tune, his influence has remained fully intact over the years.

Kanye West decided that in addition to capitalizing on the capabilities of auto-tune, he would also prominently feature the Roland TR-808 drum machine that is referenced in the title of the album. By combining auto-tune and Roland TR-808 drum machine, Kanye West gave his fourth outing a chance to be one of the most sui generis albums in his entire career. Not only would this album be a talking point amongst fans and critics, but it also gave hip-hop a new sound to explore. There is a reason why so many artists in the musician industry have cited Kanye West as a major influence on their sound, style, and career since he first released The College Dropout in 2004. Kanye West isn’t afraid to take chances when it comes to his art and image. While he’s notoriously known for his interruption of Taylor Swift, sporadic rants, and odd views in regards to politics they never once have jeopardized his career in art, music, and fashion. Kanye West knows that his idiosyncratic choices in regards to his behavior and career will be rewarded with attention and profit. However, 808s and Heartbreaks wasn’t about the attention or the profit. 808s and Heartbreaks was about expression through his dark times leading up to its release.

While he was definitely a rising star at this point in his career, he wasn’t always jubilant. Shortly after Graduation was released in 2007, his mother and muse passed away from coronary artery disease following plastic surgery. Donda West was not only Kanye’s mother but also his biggest supporter. Kanye West appointed her as his first manager once he became serious about pursuing a career in the music industry. Donda West not only gave the world Kanye West, but she also gave Kanye the opportunity to achieve success. With Donda West playing such a crucial and supportive role in Kanye’s life, her passing was devastating. After this damaging and unfortunate loss, Kanye West would suffer again just five months later when his engagement was called off with Alexis Phifer. Losing the two most important women in his life at that time had a profound effect on Kanye West moving forward. After loss and heartbreak, Kanye had more than enough reason to create 808s & Heartbreaks.

As Kanye West was on track to be the mega-celebrity that he is today, he quickly realized that it wasn’t entirely what he thought it would be. In order to achieve his success, Kanye West would inevitably have to lose those that meant the most to him. As Kanye’s career was about to spike with the release of songs such as “Love Lockdown”, “Heartless”, and “Amazing” he had lost all that he cared for. From 2007 until the release of 808s & Heartbreak, Kanye West’s life was seemingly ruined. Everything Kanye West knew and loved was wiped out from existence within four years of starting his music career. Kanye West did what any capable musician would do and channeled his loss to create an album that can resonate with everyone. Everyone in life will suffer loss until eventually suffering one’s own, however, it is what we do with this heartbreak that conveys humanity unlike anything else. Whether it’s changing one’s ways, honoring promises of those who were lost, or making a piece of art we all have a way to cope through the sorrow and sadness. Heartbreak is a guarantee in life, but for Kanye West, he used the loss of the two women he loved the most to escalate his career and become one of the biggest names in the world.

 

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Ye: A Journey Into the Mind of Kanye West

May 31st, 2018 was a very rare day for me at least. It was a day where I was truly happy for once, thanks to music and the inspirational vibes that surround Kanye West. In the days prior, I experienced heartbreak, sadness, and an overall feeling of depression. But from 12am-1am I was finally happy and actually maintained a real smile on my face. Did an album by Kanye West cure me of my depression? No. However, it gave me insight into someone who I look up to who experiences similar problems.

The Bi-Polar disorder is something that’s been in my life for many years now because someone very close to me was diagnosed with it in the past. Since then, it’s been a part of my life and even helped me understand things better when I was diagnosed with my major depression and anxiety. Seeing Kanye West smile in front of his friends, family, colleagues, and press while presenting his newest piece of art is truly inspiring. Kanye West has had a rough period during 2017-2018 with constant press and quotes coming to haunt him when he just wanted to display his perspective on life and the inner workings of the world. After all the negativity and constant barrage of insults and abandonment from fans and friends, it’s good to see Kanye West smile and rise above all the negativity surrounding his life. Ye is not just an album, it’s an experience for everyone to discover.

Watching the live stream party in Wyoming reminded me heavily of 2016’s release of The Life Of Pablo which featured Kanye West presenting his new line of clothing and playing his album for the first time in Madison Square Garden. However, this time it felt more personal. I even joined my brother in watching some of this stream because Kanye West has always been someone we’ve enjoyed listening to and watching him progress through each album he releases. The release of Ye was truly inspiring because of the energy and happiness you could feel coming from across the country. One man did this by himself, Kanye West brought these people together for this special event. Whether or not you actually like Kanye West, one must admit this is quite the spectacle on paper and in execution.

The release of Ye taught me many things that I’ve been able to examine after my five listens of the seven-song album. But the biggest takeaway from this album is to be yourself and people will like you for who you, are not what they want you to be. For example: previously this year Kanye West took a very controversial political stance on United States politics and was attacked heavily for his thoughts and opinions, and yet here we are in Wyoming where he is surrounded by those who love, care, and support him. These individuals set their beliefs and the beliefs of Kanye West aside in order to show their allegiance to their friend and support him while he presents them with a once in a lifetime experience to hear this album live with everyone else.

This is exactly the type of positive actions we as humans should take in order to work towards a peaceful world. Take away the money, beliefs, and possessions and we’re all the same. Support your friends and family in life so they can accomplish amazing things and overcome the many obstacles that life will inevitably throw at them. Ye not only came out at an important time in Kanye West’s life, it also came out when I needed to feel like myself again. We all make mistakes, but it’s the mistakes that make us stronger and wiser. Ye is more than an album to me, it’s a statement on love and how people should be treated. Kanye West will return on June 8th with his collaborative album Kids See Ghosts with Kid Cudi. I’ve been looking forward to this type of project for more than five years now and if Ye was any proof of the type of Kanye West we will be seeing this year, I sincerely cannot wait for this new album to come out.

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