Personal Soundtrack

19 Mar


The Song

Xxplosive by Dr. Dre

One guitar line, some xylophone, a backbeat, and hip-hop’s greatest hook man (RIP).  That’s all Dre needed to create a classic track on one of the greatest hip-hop albums ever made.  We’re headed to the first weekend of Coachella in a couple of weeks, and I hadn’t really thought too much about what’s in store out in the desert until “Xxplosive” came on this weekend during some iPod shufflin’.  And now I can’t stop thinking about the Snoop & Dr. Dre headlining slot on Day Three.

Even after hearing it well over a hundred times, “Xxplosive”  still sounds as dangerously smooth today as it did upon its release; the same can be said for pretty much everything else on 2001.  In fact, it’s easy to forget how huge 2001 was in the early-2000’s, especially for someone starting to really discover hip-hop at the time.  Of course, there was groundbreaking and and classic hip-hop releases well before 2001, some from Dre himself.  But for a certain generation, the timing worked out so that as singles like “The Next Episode” and “Forgot About Dre” were blowing up and offering a gateway to the world of hip-hop, we were starting to take control of our own tastes in music and actively seeking out new sounds.

Putting 2001 on the headphones (so the parents wouldn’t be horrified) was the first time that listening to music became an entire experience, offering a worldview coming from a whole different planet than my own.  And the world offered up in 2001 was hypnotic and intense – I couldn’t get enough.  Dark and graphic images of drinking, drugs and murder abounded, yet there was often a swaggering, party-loving vibe in the songs to keep things bumping and high-energy.  You could put on the album at a party and get seals of approval from most everyone there.  From the initial release date until well into my high school career, 2001 was a staple during everything from huge house parties to summer afternoons spent sneaking 40s in the backyard.

“Xxplosive” is a great example of the craftsmanship and overwhelming talent behind 2001 – Dre pushed hip-hop into a new era with his brilliant mixture of traditional instruments and wholly unique electronic flourishes.  The sound was menacing, but funky and filled with an endless barrage of hooks to keep you listening.  I definitely couldn’t stop listening to the album after I first heard it.  2001 was the first CD I put on the car stereo when I finally got my learner’s permit, and I terrified at least a few neighbors by blaring “Xxplosive” on repeat with the windows down on the parents’ car.

The album became a hugely influential part of the soundtrack to my early music-exploring years, and the chance to see some of these songs performed live at Coachella will be a special thing.  Expectations are probably unrealistically high, but there’s no way to lower them now.  At the very least, I’m just hoping we get to hear the slinky guitar sample of “Xxplosive” sounding out into the desert night as the good Dr. himself starts up the beat.

The Activity

TBD while Dancing in the Desert on Sunday, April 15.


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