On this day in 1999, one of the most iconic hip-hop albums of all time was released. Dr. Dre’s “2001” masterpiece was released on November 16, 1999. Today we revisit and reflect on this album’s greatest hits and the standard it set in hip-hop music for the coming century.
The history and significance of this album is matched by only a few others in hip-hop history. The project was actually set to be called “Chronic 2000” – an obvious follow up to Dr. Dre’s 1992 successful solo debut, “The Chronic.” This was until Priority Records, who had become the distributor of Death Row Records (Dre’s previous label affiliation) decided with Death Row’s founder and CEO Suge Knight to call their compilation album “Chronic 2000.” Death Row owned the trademark for “The Chronic” and thus prevented Dre from using the name. After the release of the “Chronic 2000” tape on May 4, 1999, Dre decided instead on the title “Chronic 2001” or “2001” for short.
With a tracklist boasting features from Snoop Dogg, Nate Dogg, Hittman, Xzibit, and the newly signed Eminem amongst others, the album was set up for complete success. Significant songs include: “Still Dre”, “What’s The Difference”, “Forgot About Dre”, “The Next Episode”, and “The Message”.
You can’t mention a Dr. Dre album without admiring the now billionaire’s adept production skills and instrumentals that serve as a backbone to these projects. With assistance from Snoop Dogg and Nate Dogg, “The Next Episode”, for example, has one of the most memorable vocal melodies of all time, while “Still Dre” contains very arguably the greatest and most recognizable piano melody in hip-hop history.
The legendary album has been referenced and sampled in pop culture events countless times. It holds up very well today, still garnering millions of streams each year… and it sounds pretty kickass on a pair of Beats by Dre headphones.