In early 2009, WIDEawake Entertainment purchased the '90s glory and notorious mess that was Death Row Records, and wasted no time in releasing a snazzy remastering of the label's linchpin, Dr. Dre's The Chronic. Building upon that success, the folks at WIDEawake dug through unreleased recordings by Dre's one-time protégé and fellow superstar Snoop Dogg. Maybe it's a testament to just how spectacularly poorly the label was run during its heyday, but unlike many "from the vaults" hip-hop collections, Death Row: The Lost Sessions, Vol. 1 contains very little chaff. While the record is as uneven as a compilation like this is inevitably fated to be, the majority of the album showcases a supreme performer at his prime. After Snoop sets the scene with a mournful intro chronicling the exit of Dre, followed by the death of 2Pac, the program begins with the steamy funk of "Doggystyle," a sparse-but-fun track featuring some top-shelf George Clinton cameo moans. "Fallin' Asleep on Death Row" ups the ante with some vintage acrobatic Snoop rhymes over the perfectly swirling D.R. beat. Another high-level highlight comes on the original cut of "O.G.," with its alternate flows and requisite Dogg Pound luminaries. WIDEawake have vowed to bring some sense to Death Row, and these Snoop Dogg unearthings are the second step to proving their seriousness.
AllMusic Review by Jason Thurston