Tributee: Dr. Dre.
Recording information: Hit List, L.I.C; Studio 24 L.I.C.
A rarity in the hip-hop world is the cover song. Perhaps this is because samples, allusions, and "borrowed" bars are commonplace, and so actually re-doing a track, line by line, isn't necessary; perhaps it's because a rapper's rhymes are the most important thing about him; for whatever reason, it doesn't happen very frequently. All of this makes A Chronic Tribute to Dr. Dre, which features versions of famous Dre songs by not-so-famous-to-practically-unknown rappers (MF Doom, Tragedy Khadafi, Freddy Foxxx, and Layzie Bone are the biggest of all the names), an uncommon kind of album. The beats, however -- what Dre is best known for -- are all the same, but while the MCs themselves recite their lines correctly, they don't do anything to add to the tracks. It's also strange to hear them trying to pretend to be Dre, or 2Pac or Eminem for that matter, too ("California Love" and "Bitch Please II" are both here). Yes, the big numbers ("Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang," "Keep Their Heads Ringing," "Still D.R.E.") are all included, but there's really no reason to pick A Chronic Tribute up. At least get something by the real MC. ~ Marisa Brown