Dr. Dre

First Round Knock Out

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Containing a variety of rap and R&B that Dr. Dre produced in the 1980s and '90s -- both before and after N.W.A. -- First Round Knock Out reminds us just how musical a producer he has been, whether working with Rose Royce or Snoop Doggy Dogg. Most of the songs themselves are decent but not remarkable; however, Dre is so imaginative in the studio that even average material comes alive. The pre-N.W.A Dre is represented by World Class Wreckin' Cru tracks like "Juice" and "The Fly," both examples of the high-tech sound L.A. rappers were known for in the early to mid-1980s. That style (which was indebted to both Kraftwerk's innovations and Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock") is a long way from the hardcore gangster rap of Kokane's "Nickel Slick Nigga," the D.O.C.'s previously unreleased "Bridgette" (a sexually explicit song Atlantic wouldn't release when it was recorded in 1989), and Dre's duet with Snoop, "Deep Cover." These tunes aren't in a class with Dre's work with N.W.A., but his studio skills never fail to impress.

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