I know you are but what am I

The Chronic (Interscope)
Dr. Dre

By Kory Wilcoxson

N.W.A, once one of the hardest and most respected rap groups on the L.A. scene, has turned into a launching pad for successful solo careers. Most notable and probably most profitable is Ice Cube, who dissed his former mates and skyrocketed to number one on the charts after only three albums. Eazy-E had a solo album out during N.W.A.'s peak years, and a few months ago Kizz My Black Azz from MC Ren hit the stores. Now, make way for The Chronic.

Dr. Dre, who normally took a back seat to his high-powered homeboys, has stepped up to the mic full force. No longer relegated to backup, Dr. Dre snatches the spotlight like a pro, turning out as good an album as any of his former group members.

The Chronic is not unlike any of N.W.A.'s offerings. The group used to be in your face, daring any suckers to step up. The lyrics pushed your shoulder, bumped your chest and called your mama bad names.

Dre takes a little more subtle approach. Given, there's no lack of the N.W.A. standards — guns, joints and about every derogatory name you can call a woman, which is uncalled for on about any album. But Dre doesn't feel like he has anything to prove. The Chronic is a soundtrack to a day in South Central. It's a tour of the neighborhood that you can take if you want, but Dre doesn't care because either way he's gonna get his.

Songs like "Nigga Witta Gun" and "Rat-Tat-Tat-Tat" are rough without being overpowering, and Dre's rapping demonstrates some improvement from the past. Snoop Doggy Dogg adds a nice complement, taking on a large chunk of the rapping chores. Both rappers also take a shot at Eazy-E, although nothing as blistering as Ice Cube's "No Vaseline." Regardless, I'm sure Eazy got the message, as do the listeners.

In the case of N.W.A., the parts seem to be better than the sum, and now those parts are beginning to blossom on their own. If the feuding continues, it should be fun to watch.