This year’s “50 Years of Hip-Hop” propaganda is not cultural celebration but a manipulation tactic. It follows Biden’s turning the Texas state remembrance known as “Juneteenth” into a spurious national holiday, and Nancy Pelosi’s donning a kente cloth and taking a knee at the Capitol, worshipping felon and drug abuser George Floyd, all to capture the black vote. A more authentic hip-hop culture event would recognize the 30th anniversary of The Chronic, the album that brought hip-hop’s political ethics to a close. After The Chronic, black Americans who used to fight against the godless, ethical decline of ghetto living simply gave up, relenting to the power of pop-culture persuasion. Thus began today’s moral concessions, such as policies in New York, the birthplace of hip-hop, whereby politicians give preference to ex-con drug dealers for licenses to sell marijuana, a.k.a. “The Chronic.”
In 1993, the album The Chronic (originally released the year before) broke through to hip-hop’s mainstream. It was the solo debut for rapper, songwriter, tour-de-force producer and future mogul Dr. Dre (Andre Young, originally of the group N.W.A). Snoop Doggy Dogg (Calvin Broadus Jr.) was only a featured performer on several tracks, but the lanky, laid-back — perpetually buzzed —performer marked the beginning of hip-hop’s descent into crowd-pleasing depravity, the enculturation of black American pathology that now includes Snoop’s entrepreneurship with white lifestyles maven Martha Stewart.
You can’t understand the milieu of post–George Floyd urban miscreance without knowing this apolitical album, which appeared on the heels of Public Enemy’s politically exciting masterworks Fear of a Black Planet and Apocalypse ’91, as if to deliberately nullify them. Over its 50-year history, hip-hop went from innocent ingenuity to political awareness to the aggressive, sexual decadence that prevails today. Every track on The Chronic drew that road map.
The Chronic’s audacious songs are so impolitic that they make everyday corruption swing: “Let Me Ride” mentions “hollow points” alongside shameless rip-offs of Parliament-Funkadelic party tracks. It is flagrantly profane. Dre proves himself a superb rapper — a skill by which, years later on the magnificent “California Love,” he stole the show from Tupac. Here, Snoop merely rides shotgun, but it’s an undeniable introduction of a star.