Dr. Dre, Nas, KRS-One, B-Real, Scarface & RBX Came Together In The Aftermath Of Coastal Conflict (Video)

Tomorrow (August 7), Dr. Dre is slated to drop his first album in 16 years. Compton, as it is called, follows 2001 in a career that has emphasized quality over quantity. In conjunction with next week’s Straight Outta Compton biopic (August 14), Dre returned to his studios and invited friends new and old in making what has been marketed as his farewell to solo albums, and the third in a series that spans nearly 23 years.

Between The Chronic and 2001, Dr. Dre did put his name on another album. The week of Thanksgiving 1996, the Compton, California super-producer called for The Aftermath courtesy of his compilation. Eight months after a controversial exodus from Death Row Records (a reportedly nine-figure label which Dr. Dre co-founded), Dre was perceived (by critics and new-found foes) as foolish, frightened, and financially-strapped. Although Aftermath Entertainment would later usher in household names such as Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, and 50 Cent, the Interscope Records-backed label would introduce itself without major fanfare. Dr. Dre Presents…The Aftermath brought one former Death Row “escapee” with him in RBX (Snoop Dogg’s cousin, who dissed Dre on the single from his solo debut a year earlier). Additionally, Dre recruited fellow 1980s Gangsta Rap pioneer King T, who had previously released heralded LPs on Capitol and MCA Records. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania natives Mel-Man, Stu-B-Doo, and Bud’da joined  Chris “The Glove” Taylor (who mixed elements of The Chronic) in Dre’s latest production ensemble.

Beyond the fledgling roster, which did not yet include Eve, The Last Emperor, or Hittman, one song attracted the tracklisting-reading consumer. “East Coast/West Coast Killas” was released just over two months following Tupac Shakur’s murder. Billed as a super-force, Group Therapy included KRS-One, Nas, B-Real, and The Narrator RBX. Two New York City MCs, two Southern California MCs, together on a Dre and Stu-produced track, employing a Quincy Jones sample and scratching. The apocalyptic video symbolically represents Rap as a wasteland, trying to rise from the ashes. Since “Natural Born Killaz,” “Keep Their Heads Ringin'” (which sampled KRS) and “California Love,” Dre was clearly taking inspiration from a grim future.

The verses, especially B-Real’s and Blastmasta’s, showed unity in the same year that featured coastal tensions involving many Hip-Hop stars (including Nas). “Kill that noise” was the take-away in the chorus, using the “killas” aspect ironically in the song. The same year Dre and Nas first worked together on It Was Written, and Boogie Down Productions’ and N.W.A.’s personnel crossed paths, this put controversy to bed. Dre’s compilation inside artwork stated “Aftermath: We Don’t Set-Trip, We Set Trends” (a clear message against Death Row’s gang-brandishing marketing). Like his sophomore single “Been There, Done That,” Dre was putting the weapons, warfare, and West Coast-thumpin’, in favor of dope lyrics and dope beats. The video’s intro says it all. Notably, Scarface appears in the video too, during the chorus, following his own Untouchable ’96 collaboration with Dre, but mysteriously does not rap. Notably, Group Therapy has their own Vevo, was marketed as an act, but never released another song to the public.

From “East Coast/West Coast Killas” to Compton, Dr. Dre’s ambitious undertakings have been a source of Hip-Hop inspiration since the mid-1980s.

What song on Compton, are you most looking forward to hearing?

Related: It’s Official. Dr. Dre’s First Album in 16 Years Will Be Released Friday.