Ever since the second single from Eminem’s Aftermath/ Interscope Records debut, 1999’s brilliant The Slim Shady LP, “Guilty Conscience” first hit our eardrums there was no denying the charisma, chemistry and exceptional likability of Dr. Dre and Eminem collaborating on a track together. In the sixteen years since than they have only proven how correct our initial thoughts were as to the high-brow lyricism and head-nodding greatness that comes from this incredible duo sharing a song. With their latest collaboration, “Medicine Man”, from Dr. Dre’s highly anticipated Compton: The Soundtrack coming out in a scant few days, and the optimism ever-growing that they one day make a full-length collaborative album together, we reflect throughout the years on their greatest sonic achievements.
“I Need a Doctor”- (featuring Skyler Grey)
Before Dr. Dre’s Detox album was completely dismantled he released a short but addictive single called “I Need a Doctor”. With Skyler Grey’s catchy, haunting voice embracing the background and Eminem thanking Dre in an exceptional powerful verse for all he has done for him and for their camaraderie the song may not have been their most explosive but, it is one of their finest outright expressions of their companionship and Dre provides an exceptional verse and a melodic, creative sound, as only he could do, for the backdrop of it all.
The top ten:
The final, and title, track off Eminem’s underrated Encore from 2005, is a bit outdated at first as Eminem shouts out G-Unit and screams about the Detox album: “We’re going to make Dre do it”. Regardless, the party vibe (unusual for Mr. Mathers overall and especially for the aggressive note he often ends his LPs on) is infectious. The beat is simple but it provides a suitable platform for Slim Shady’s tongue twisting verbiage and Dre to lace it with some enjoyable battle raps.
9. “Crack a Bottle” (featuring 50 Cent)
From Eminem’s criminally underappreciated opus of sick brilliance, Relapse, the song “Crack a Bottle” was reported to have been leaked onto the Internet while not fully finished. Either way, it is a purely enjoyable, memorable track that has a great melody, a hook you cannot get out of your head and it is backed up by skillful verses from the duo of Eminem and Dr. Dre with capable help from 50 Cent. Ah, the memories.
8. “Bad Guys Always Die”
With notes of Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story” and “Paul Revere” by The Beastie Boys, “Bad Guys Always Die” was released as a track off the Will Smith cinematic disaster from 1999 Wild, Wild West (before Eminem himself dissed Smith a year later in “The Real Slim Shady”). It evokes the vibe of a cowboy movie through its slick melody but, with Eminem and Dr. Dre taking turns spitting wicked rhymes, which seems to rehash “Guilty Conscience” in a way as the duo starts off as enemies who argue to one another through their lines but decide to unify their forces, but the effect is potent, always fresh and it provides another exuberant example of their capabilities as a team and as rhymers.
7. “Syllables” (featuring Jay-Z)
An officially unreleased song from around the Relapse era, “Syllables” sees three of Hip Hop’s heavyweights (Jay-Z joins Dr. Dre and Eminem) to make a sonic creation about how simplistic the new generation of Rap has become. Agreeing with this thesis statement completely, this musical opus packs even more punch as the three viciously attacks what is commonly called “ABC” rappers. Eminem has the best verse as he intentionally dumbs down his rhymes to make this statement known but Dre and Jay deliver brutal, witty verses over a beat that is appropriately modest but works well for the focus to stay on the rhyming and message at hand. “Syllables” is an underground classic worth being sought out.
6. “Hell Breaks Loose”
The second of eight tracks of extra material attached to Relapse, called Relapse: Refill, seven months or so after the LP’s release, “Hell Breaks Loose” has an insane hook, a beat that is as wicked as Eminem and Dre’s rhymes and is guaranteed to have you cranking up the volume on your dial as loud as it can go. This is the definition of a ‘banger’. It is far more effective than “Encore/ Curtains Down” but, like the aforementioned tune, abandons substance for an impression of sheer fun. A solid track all around.
Bitch Please II” (featuring Snoop Doggy Dogg and X-Zibit)
Recycling the incredible beat from the Snoop (who drops a rather pedestrian verse here) and X-Zibit (who makes up for Snoop’s slack with a fantastically brutal sixteen bars) featured original, “B… Please II”, from Eminem’s timeless The Marshall Mathers LP from 2000, is saved by the fire in Eminem’s defiant final verse and the Dre’s respectful to Shady prop filled turn on the microphone. It also is a build-up in terms of quality from verse to verse with Eminem punctuating the built up energy with a conclusion that makes it far worthwhile in itself.
4. “Guilty Conscience”
The record from The Slim Shady LP which made our ears perk up and our interest increase exponentially any time we heard or saw that Dr. Dre and Eminem were on a track. At first it was criticized for the manner in which evil (personified by Eminem’s turns) wins over good (which is showcased by Dre’s bits) but the three situations where either could take over and the idea that these two are the voices whispering in the individual about to take the right or wrong road is a fantastic idea for a concept track and the two make it work tremendously.
3. “Say What You Say”
Taking in depth verbal shots at Jermaine Dupri and The Source Magazine, this song, from 2002’s The Eminem Show, is a prime of example of Eminem and Dr. Dre as a force to be reckoned with. The wit of the verses herein is only complimented by the aggression underneath it all, the sharp and career disassembling disses thrown with practically every line and a beat that ferociously hammers it all home.
2. “What’s the Difference?” (featuring X-Zibit)
Eminem and Dr. Dre, with another bit of assistance from X-Zibit, all deliver fantastic, in your face verses over a distinctly infectious Dre produced melody. This was the seventh track of Dr. Dre’s Chronic 2001 and was undoubtedly one of the best pairings of Compton and Detroit along with a later song from the tracklist of the aforementioned LP:
1. “Forgot About Dre”
For the longest time you could not turn on a Hip Hop station or turn to MTV (back when they actually showed music videos and not disposable ‘Reality’ shows) without hearing Eminem state: “Now-a days everybody wanna talk like they got something to say/ But nothin’ comes out when they move their lips/ Just a bunch of gibberish/ And ….. act like they forgot about Dre” and it’s no wonder why as this was hands down Dre and Eminem at their catchiest, cleverest and most verbally gifted. The production is amazing and “Forgot About Dre” has proven timeless and to be among the best material on Chronic 2001. This was further cemented when the Grammy Awards stated their acknowledgment of this when they presented Eminem and Dre an award for Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group in 2001.
I know none of us real Hip Hop heads have forgotten all Dre has done for the genre. It is with great anticipation that I await hearing “Medicine Man”, and the rest of the good doctor’s Compton: The Soundtrack, and hope their pairing will make its way towards the top of this list.
August 7th, the release date of Dr. Dre’s latest LP Compton: The Soundtrack, is days away. Soon the fifteen year silence of new music from Dr. Dre will be broken and hopefully we will have another immortal classic on our hands. Only time will tell if his recent material is on par with his works of the past but, one thing that will always remain true is Dr. Dre, as well as Eminem, are both pivotal to Rap and are all groundbreakers in their own right. They are both giants, living legends whose soul bleeds through every track they are on. That is especially true when they come together to join forces.