As people prepare for the release of Dr. Dre's first album in 16 years, we explore what some of the artists are up to that figured prominently on his classic, '2001.'
Dr. Dre's first album in 16 years is notable for a number of reasons. Not only does it give the venerable doctor a new audience of listeners who may have previously only known him as a tech-savvy billionaire, but it also allows him to provide a platform for both new and established artists alike.
Compton's tracklist reveals a featured artist on every song except for one - ranging from Eminem and Kendrick Lamar, to more unknown artists like Anderson Paak and Asia Bryant. This same formula may seem like a familiar one to hip-hop fans. Dr. Dre's last album, 2001, also had featured artists on every track except for "The Watcher" (which was co-written by Nas).
Spanning 22 tracks, some of those featured on 2001 went on to superstardom, while others seemed to fade away. On the eve of Dre's musical resurgence, we explore what some of his notable 2001 contributors have been up to in the years since the album was first released.
Tray-Deee Contribution: "Lolo (Intro)"
In November 2003, Deee was arrested in connection with a shooting outside of a grocery and drug store in Long Beach in which no one was hurt. He was arrested in his Fontana home and charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon and was held in the city jail with bail set at $50,000 USD.
On February 2, 2005, Deee was sentenced to 12 years in jail for attempted murder after pleading no contest to shooting at an occupied vehicle. Under a plea agreement, prosecutors dropped two charges of assault with a semiautomatic firearm and one count of possession of a firearm.
During his incarceration, The Eastsidaz disbanded. After a nine-year prison term, Deee was released. In speaking with AllHipHop.com he said, "I finally enjoyed a warm conversation with Snoop Dogg after over five years of no communication whatsoever. We agreed to let the past go like water under the proverbial bridge and we even shared a few genuine laughs… Now Goldie Loc, he has never exhibited any degree of loyalty toward me. I would hope that Snoop Dogg and I could recapture that vibe that we once shared, and salvage the wonderful history that we created. It’s his call at this point. Barring some extraordinary events transpiring between now and my release, I have no interest of fuckin’ with Goldie Loc ever again – except to be compensated by him for prominently featured on his Still Eastsidin' CD."
However, the three began work once again in 2014. Deee reunited with Goldie Loc to perform at "Krush Groove 2014" at Save Mart Center in Fresno, and The Forum in Inglewood, California - while The Eastsidaz reunited as a group in 2014 for their mixtape, That's My Work Vol. 4.
Devin the Dude Contribution: "Fuck You"
Houston's Devin the Dude vividly recalled the recording session for "Fuck You" from 2001 with HipHopDX, saying, "That was crazy, man, because it was actually like a dream come true. I needed that to spark my career at that time, because I was doing pretty cool and some people knew me, but they ain’t really know the face. I didn’t do too many videos, or whatever so, they just knew me from being with Scarface, he said. "I was just there to do the hook, so I just started writing the hook title. I kind of finished the hook, but I didn’t just write that entire hook there, because I was trying to find something to go to it. I thought about an old hook I had, but it was slow. And it was like, 'I just want to fuck you / No touching and hugging girl, you got a husband who loves you.' It was like a break up song, so the melody was different. With the melody, I just chipmunked it; I like, Alvin’d that mothafucka. But the lyrics were still, 'I just want to fuck you / No touching and rubbing girl, you got a husband who loves you.' And I was like, 'Okay, yeah…okay,' and Dre asked if I had something. I was like, 'Umm…yeah, I think so,' but I was high as fuck, man. So at that moment, everything was like slow motion from there. Everybody looked at me and shit, but I got in there, put the cans on, and I kind of felt it."
Following his work on 2001, Devin the Dude went to work on his sophomore solo album, Just Tryin' to Live which had features from Nas and Xzibit, as well as production from Dr. Dre and DJ Premier. Ultimately, it peaked at #61 on the Billboard 200 chart.
In subsequent years, he has released six solo album - with five of them all charting in the Billboard top 100. Additionally, he has collaborated with the likes of Jay Z, Lil Jon, The Roots, Gucci Mane, 50 Cent and more.
Like many other artists signed to Death Row, Kurupt and his group The Dogg Pound (with Daz) enjoyed a huge amount of success, and were then motivated to seek greener pastures after the murder of Tupac Shakur in 1996. Following the release of 1998's Kuruption! and 1999'1 Tha Streetz Iz a Mutha, Kurupt returned to Death Row as Vice President - much to the dismay of his partner, Daz, who had a notable falling out with label.
Soon after, Kurupt formed a new group - The Riflemen - alongside Mobb Deep, Jayo Felony, 40 Glocc and The Alchemist - but nothing came out of the collaboration.
Eventually, Snoop Dogg was able to broker peace between Kurupt and Daz so that they could continue to make music as The Dogg Pound.
In recent years, Kurupt has released an additional three solo albums - Against the Grain, Same Day, Different Shit and Streetlights - with the latter two debuting in the top 60 on the Billboard charts.
King T Contribution: "Some L.A. Niggaz"
While King T is notable for a number of contributions to hip-hop - like giving the world the Alkaholiks/Likwit Crew - he was also a favorite amongst his peers. During an interview, Ice-T remarked, "He was [Notorious B.I.G.'s] favorite fuckin' emcee!"
During the time that 2001 was being recorded, T was signed to Aftermath and began work on his own project. After countless push-backs on the project, he was eventually allowed to leave the label. However, he released Thy Kingdom Come independently in 2002 with production by Dr. Dre and DJ Battlecat. As he recalled, "I let my ego and my pride get in the way. Yeah, I sat up and listened to mothafuckas talk about how you’ll get shelved fuckin’ with Dre. I was a lil’ impatient. I had an album done. I thought it was the best album I had ever made. The only thing was, no, it was good. He said it wasn’t done. He felt it wasn’t done. I should have sat back and let him work, 'Aiight, let’s get it done.' Instead, I thought it was finished, as my best work. That ego shit."
In subsequent years, he has released another solo album, The Ruthless Chronicles, and promised his fans one final project before he hangs up the microphone.
Hittman holds the distinction of being the most-featured artist on 2001. In speaking with MTV at the time, Dre commented, "Well, Hittman is our next protege. He's the next person that we're going to groom and try to build into a superstar, super hip-hop star. He's incredible. He could sing, his rhymes are ridiculous, and his delivery is incredible. That's why he's heard on the album probably more than I am, you know what I'm sayin'. He's incredible. And he's a real cool, laid-back guy."
Like many other artists that worked with Dr. Dre during that era, Hittman also found himself recording material for a solo project that would ultimately never be released. In a 2006 interview he explained, "I left Aftermath like in October 2001. I was trying to get my own situation, I was signed to Scott Storch's manager Hustler Foundation like in 2003. But none of that stuff worked out the way I wanted it to. With me, if I don't have my creativity, I don't care what the situation is, I back up out of it. And for most of the time that's what it was, I didn't have my creative control. So at times, I had situations on the table but they ended up falling through so I didn't roll with none of that."
Six-Two/Six2 Contribution: "Xxplosive," "Bitch Niggaz"
Six2 was discovered in 1996 by The D.O.C. and signed to his label Silver Back Records. With the success of 2001, he was asked to be a part of the Up in Smoke Tour which also featured Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Eminem, Proof, Nate Dogg, Kurupt, D12, MC Ren, Westside Connection, Mel-Man, Tha Eastsidaz, Doggy's Angels, Devin The Dude, Warren G, TQ, Truth Hurts, Xzibit, The D.O.C. and Hittman.
During this period, he went to work on his solo album, Deuce, which would be completely produced by Dr. Dre. After he ran into some legal difficulties, The D.O.C. decided to put the album out as his own project with Six2 featured throughout the album.
As he recalled in 2008, "it was supposed to be my solo album so I don’t know why he put his face on it. That kind of ran me hot. After the tour, I had missed like two cities, and Dre was like go ahead and turn yourself in that way they won’t come and get you off stage. I’m thinking while I was in there Doc was going to keep my spot for a solo album, but then Doc put it out with most of the songs on there."
His most notable work in the business has come behind-the-scenes - penning “Wait A Minute” for the Pussycat Dolls, as well as writing for Timbaland’s Shock Value album on songs like "Release" featuring Justin Timberlake and "Bounce" featuring Dr. Dre & Missy Elliott.
In 2013, Six2 released the album Affiliated 2.0.
Defari Contribution: "Some L.A. Niggaz"
In the mid '90s, Defari was working as a high school teacher after graduating from the University of California Berkley and Columbia University. After a chance meeting with Alkaholiks producer E-Swift, they recorded the track "Big Up," which appeared on the 1995 compilation Next Chapter: Strictly Underground. In 1999, Defari signed with Tommy Boy Records and issued his full-length debut, Focused Daily.
In a 2008 interview, Defari recalled how he ended up on 2001. "What happened was everybody was starting they verse off with a old L.A. verse," Defari says. "Some of the guys used Ice Cube, some of the cats used Toddy Tee, Above the Law, etc., so I used Ice-T, you know what I mean? I just flipped 'Six in the Morning.' I said the eight bars and Dre was like, 'Say that again.' So I spit it again and he was like, 'You wanna get in the booth?' I was like, 'Shit, Kobe want the ball?' Really, everybody had a 16 [bars] on there so I was trying to get 12. While I was thinking of four more bars Dre was listening back to it. He was like, 'Nah, I think I'm good.' You know, when the Doc says it's good, it's good. I didn't really think the record was gonna make the album, but then I saw my name on the fliers and the magazine ads and all that."
Lord Finesse Contribution: "The Message"
D.I.T.C.'s Lord Finesse is the only producer to receive credit other than Dr. Dre on 2001. Having produced "The Message" to close out the legendary project - much like he produced "Suicidal Thoughts" to bookend Biggie's Ready to Die - Finesse remembered, "'The Message' was actually already all the way done. There wasn't really anything for him to do - except just to say, 'I want that.' It was my song. But when he asked me for it, how are you going to tell Dre 'no?' I'm like, 'it's going to do way more on your album than it's ever going to do on mine.'"
Lord Finesse's name resurfaced in 2012 when he sued Mac Miller and his label for $10 million USD for illegally using his 1995 track "Hip 2 Da Game" for Miller's own song "Kool Aid and Frozen Pizza," which appeared on his mixtape K.I.D.S..
"This is a case about a teenage rapper — Mac Miller — copying the music from a song written, produced and performed by Lord Finesse, a hip-hop legend, changing the title and then distributing it under his own name in order to launch his music career," the lawsuit reads.
Miller responded on Twitter, typing, "I made that record and video as nothing more than an 18 year old kid who wanted to rhyme and pay homage, no other intentions."
The lawsuit was settled confidentially in 2013.