The Chronic is the solo debut album of American hip hop artist Dr. Dre, released December 15, 1992, on his own record label Death Row Records, and distributed by Priority Records. Recording sessions for the album took place in June 1992 at Death Row Studios in Los Angeles and at Bernie Grundman Mastering in Hollywood. The album is named after a slang term for high-grade marijuana, and its cover is an homage to Zig-Zag rolling papers. It was recorded by Dr. Dre following his departure from hip hop group N.W.A and its label Ruthless Records over a financial dispute, and consequently features both subtle and direct insults at Ruthless and its owner, former N.W.A-member Eazy-E. Although a solo album, it features many appearances by Snoop Dogg, who used the album as a launch pad for his own solo career.
Upon its release, The Chronic received positive reviews from most music critics and earned considerable sales success. The album peaked at number three on the Billboard 200 and has sold over three million copies, which led to Dr. Dre becoming one of the top ten best-selling American performing artists of 1993. Dr. Dre's production has been noted for founding and popularizing the G-funk sub-genre within gangsta rap. The Chronic has been widely regarded as one of the most important and influential albums of the 1990s and regarded by many fans and peers to be one of the most well-produced hip hop albums of all time. In 2003, the album was ranked number 137 on Rolling Stone magazine's list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
The production on The Chronic was seen as innovative and ground-breaking, and received universal acclaim from critics. Allmusic commented on Dr. Dre's efforts, "Here, Dre established his patented G-funk sound: fat, blunted Parliament-Funkadelic beats, soulful backing vocals, and live instruments in the rolling basslines and whiny synths" and that "For the next four years, it was virtually impossible to hear mainstream hip-hop that wasn't affected in some way by Dre and his patented G-funk." Unlike other hip hop acts (such as The Bomb Squad) that sampled heavily, Dr. Dre only utilized one or few samples per song. In Rolling Stone's The Immortals - The Greatest Artists of All Time, where Dr. Dre was listed at number 54, Kanye West wrote on the album's production quality: "The Chronic is still the hip-hop equivalent to Stevie Wonder's Songs in the Key of Life. It's the benchmark you measure your album against if you're serious."
Jon Pareles of The New York Times described the production, writing "The bottom register is swampy synthesizer bass lines that openly emulate Parliament-Funkadelic; the upper end is often a lone keyboard line, whistling or blipping incessantly. In between are wide-open spaces that hold just a rhythm guitar, sparse keyboard chords." Pareles observed that the songs "were smoother and simpler than East Coast rap, and [Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg] decisively expanded the hip-hop audience into the suburbs." Until this point, mainstream hip hop had been primarily party music (for example, Beastie Boys) or angry and politically charged (for example, Public Enemy or X-Clan), and had consisted almost entirely of samples and breakbeats. Dr. Dre ushered in a new musical style and lyrics for hip hop. The beats were slower and mellower, borrowing from late 1970s and early 1980s funk music. By mixing these early influences with original live instrumentation, he created a distinctive genre known as G-funk.
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