Compton is here.
We’re still digesting Dr. Dre’s first album in 16 years, but one thing is clear: the Doctor has not stopped looking for new talent. Alongside rap heavyweights like Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar and veteran R&B talents like Jill Scott and Marsha Ambrosius are a handful of artists whose names don’t ring many bells.
It’s worth remembering that while Dre has played kingmaker to a handful of hip-hop’s biggest names, not all of his proteges have fared as well. Still, you can’t count out the star-making potential of the Dr. Dre seal-of-approval. With that in mind, here is a brief guide to the new artists that feature on Compton.
Formerly known as Breezy Lovejoy, Paak is a multi-talented artist (singer, songwriter, producer, drummer) who released his genre-hopping debut album Venice in 2014. Earlier this year, he united with up-and-coming Stones Throw beatsmith Knxwledge as NxWorries. (Interestly, both are linked to the Aftermath family: Knxwledge contributed production to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp A Butterfly)
Atlanta’s Asia Bryant is a singer-songwriter whose highest-profile gigs until now have been behind the scenes (she wrote Miley Cyrus’ ‘Hands in the Air’ and a few songs for Jennifer Lopez), but she appears ready to step out on her own.
Like Bryant, South African singer Candice Pillay has had success as a songwriter and vocalist for the likes of Tinie Tempah and Christina Aguilera; she released her debut album The Mood Kill late last year. Her lilting verse on ‘Genocide’ is reminiscent of Rihanna, and that’s not coincidental: she co-wrote ‘Cockiness’ and ‘American Oxygen’.
Over the last few years, Los Angeles producer-songwriter Dem Jointz has filled a variety of in-studio roles for Boyz II Men, Brandy, and Compton guest Marsha Ambrosius; he’s also worked on several of the same projects as Pillay. Along with the hook on ‘Issues’, he co-produced four tracks on the album.
Flint, Michigan’s Jon Connor has been rapping for a while now. He’s dropped a steady stream of mixtapes (often inspired by and borrowing beats from classic albums) since 2005, released his debut album in 2013 and secured a spot on the XXL Freshman list in 2014… but being the latest Dre protege remains his most compelling characteristic.
Justus (aka Justin Mohrle) is from Dallas suburb Garland, and the 24-year-old came under Dre’s wing through Dallas rap O.G. The D.O.C. (one of Dre’s longtime ghostwriters). He doesn’t do much on the album (and his Youtube trail is unimpressive) but Dre has had success with white rappers…
The first non-sampled voice on Compton belongs to Raleigh rapper King Mez. Previously, he featured on songs by fellow North Carolinians 9th Wonder, Big Pooh and Rapsody; he’s also opened for NC’s most prominent rapper, J. Cole.
Florida-bred singer-songwriter Sly Jordan has been in the Shady / Aftermath family since the beginning of the decade, playing the Nate Dogg role on Eminem and Royce Da 5’9’s ‘Fast Lane’ and Dr. Dre’s ‘Kush’ and contributing to good kid, m.A.A.d city.