It really doesn't seem that long ago that Kendrick was a promising underground rapper whose Dr. Dre cosign was treated with both excitement (for one Compton legend recognizing another) and trepidation (for the very real fear that Kendrick would rap on Alex da Kid beats for the rest of time). For all their connections, Kendrick has never rapped on a Dre-produced beat on one of his own albums, though he was everywhere on the bizarrely now-forgotten Compton. DJ Critical Hype, responsible for that similarly itch-scratching Chance the Rapper/Kanye mashup tape from a few years back, has sought to remedy that with an album that has Kendrick rapping on some of Dre's most well-known productions.
The Damn. Chronic may be one of the most rap conservative things ever put together, especially as it relies mainly on a lot of Kendrick's less idiosyncratic and more formative pre- Section.80 material for acapellas. Still, to hear the rapid-fire dotted-note flow of "Bitch, Don't Kill My Vibe" on the "Forgot About Dre" beat is a delight, and the squelchy G-funk setting for "XXX" somehow makes the song more anarchic. Perhaps most poignant is hearing Nate Dogg swoop in on Jay Rock's "Hood Gone Love It," and Kendrick's "I'm On 2.0" verse rattling over the old-school clang of the "Straight Outta Compton" instrumental is an example of how those primitive beats still have staying power. Listen to The Damn. Chronic below.
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This article originally appeared on Noisey CA.