Death Row’s latest attempt at hoodwinking their former artists and bamboozling the fans comes in the form of Dogg Pound’s 2002. The title itself is not only an allusion that this album is made up of new millennial material, but also that it is a step ahead of Dr. Dre’s 2001 (of which it is neither). Boasting a lead single produced by Dre, as well as guest appearances from Jay-Z and Xzibit, this release should successfully confuse fans into not buying the official reunion of Daz and Kurupt, on the independently released D.P.G. - Dillinger and Young Gotti.
In all actuality, the tracks on this album are about as “new” as anything that’s shown up a posthumous 2Pac release in the past five years. “Just Doggin’” (feat. Nate Dogg), while once produced by Dr. Dre, when it appeared on the Sunset Park soundtrack, is now remixed by Cold 187UM , yet still bares the doc’s signature in the album’s credits. Another curious inclusion is “Livin’ The Gangsta Life”, which features Xzibit. This song, which also appears on the just released D.P.G. “Dillinger and Young Gotti” album is an obviously unfinished demo version, but now includes an inappropriate and especially out-of-place verbal threat to Snoop Dogg, courtesy of Big C-Style. Finally, the “all new” track featuring Jay-Z, is none other than the incredible out-of-place “Change The Game Remix”, featuring Daz, Kurupt, Beanie Sigel, Memphis Bleek, and the usual unnecessary yelling from DJ Clue.
Naturally, the majority of the album’s other material are vaulted tracks recorded when The Dogg Pound wasstill down with Death Row. Certain tracks such as “Roll With Us”, “Smoke”, and “Every Single Day” (feat. Snoop) definitely capture the sound of the classic Death Row era, but the majority of this material - most of it recorded after the label fell apart – sounds ridiculously dated or is simply evidence of why it was shelved in the first place. Another factor that doesn’t make this album any better, is that it uses itself as a platform to spotlight the Row’s new roster - and with the possible exception of Crooked I, this strategy will probably make little difference in the future of the label’s success.
The ultimate paradox of 2002 is that it shows the label’s desperation to hold onto past glories, and even worse, it bows Death Row down to today’s hitmakers by using them as selling points. Ironically, these artists, (Dr. Dre, Snoop, Jay-Z, Xzibit), are the same people they’ve instigated beefs past and presently. As to how or if they got the rights for these artists to appear on the album - Whether through legal paper work, or hanging them out a window, or both - remains a mystery, but it still doesn’t save 2002 from being an embarrassment to a label that is now a parody of its former self.
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