Three Things You May Not Have Known About Dr. Dre’s The Chronic

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It’s like this and like that and like this: The Chronic, Dr. Dre’s seminal album and solo debut, that G-funk masterpiece responsible for redefining West Coast rap, will make its streaming debut on Apple Music on Tuesday, June 30 at 8 a.m. PST, according to Rolling Stone. Dre’s LP is an exclusive acquisition for the digital service, though it’s not a surprising one—considering Apple bought Beats Electronics for $3 billion in August of 2014, it makes sense that Dre (who will be hosting a radio show on Beats 1, the free Internet-based radio station and cornerstone of Apple Music) would bequeath streaming rights to the tech titan. Up until now, the album hasn’t appeared on Spotify, iTunes, or elsewhere, a circumstance often attributed to a 2011 legal battle over who owned the album’s digital rights. Despite winning a lawsuit for those rights against his former label, Death Row Records, Dre has since kept the album to himself (it wasn’t even released on his own platform, Beats Music, when it launched last year). But that’s all about to change.

To get you ready for imminent repeat listenings, here are three things you may not have known about The Chronic.

The album’s cover art is a hat tip to Zig Zag cigarette papers

Photograph courtesy ZigZag.com
Photograph courtesy ZigZag.com

As Zig Zag history would have it, a French soldier first thought to roll tobacco in paper after his clay pipe was struck (and broken) by a bullet. That soldier’s likeness is now a major part of the Zig Zag logo. Dre swapped out the soldier’s image for his own, creating album art that is particularly apropos considering the LP’s title.


Dr. Dre discovered Snoop Dogg thanks to En Vogue

Photograph courtesy youtube.com
Photograph courtesy youtube.com

It was Snoop’s freestyle over “Hold On” that caught the Dr.’s ear. As Snoop once relayed to LA Weekly, “Warren G called me and was, like, ‘Snoop, I got Dre on the phone, he liked the tape, he wants to work with us.’ And I said, ‘Nigga, stop lying.’ And someone said, ‘Hello?’ And I said, ‘Who’s this?’ And he said, ‘It’s Dre. Man, that shit was dope. I want to get with you. Come to the studio Monday.’”


The album features real recordings from the L.A. riots

Photograph by Ted Soqui
Photograph by Ted Soqui

The Chronic was, in part, a reaction to the riots that gripped Los Angeles in the wake of the Rodney King verdict. Matthew McDaniel, who was an intern for KDAY during the riots, documented the unrest with his camera—and then picked up the phone and called Dr. Dre. According to NPR, McDaniel’s “camera captured furious Angelenos, and one man in particular: ‘Damn it, you need to step your punk ass to the side, and let us brothers, and us Africans, step in, and start putting some foot in that ass!’…And there was another man. While he’s speaking, he lifts a toddler onto his shoulders: ‘I’m gonna tell you right now. If I have to die today for this little African right here to have a future, I’m a dead motherfucker.’ McDaniel says he knew he had powerful tape…’At that point in time,’ he says, ‘you could just call Dr. Dre up on the phone. Not so easy for people now. Anybody, you could just get Dre’s number, call him up, he’d pick up the phone.’” Dre ended up sampling McDaniel’s tape in “Lil Ghetto Boy” and “The Day Niggaz Took Over.”