Review of Lauryn Hill: The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill

Lauryn Hill is an amazing vocalist. She can sing. She can rap. She can do it all. This album really set the tome of what was to come for hip hop. WE know now just how powerful hip hop and rap is now, but back when this was released in the late 90s some though hip hop might just be a phase, or just more droning type pop music.

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Review of Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force: Planet Rock

Afrika Bambaataa & Soulsonic Force - Planet Rock

For a change in pace, we decided that the 4 Sonic Collective members should select albums from a randomly selected genre for everyones next pick. Hip Hop was chosen and for the second pick of this round member Scott Coates chose A Tribe Called Quest: People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

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Review of A Tribe Called Quest: People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

For a change in pace, we decided that the 4 Sonic Collective members should select albums from a randomly selected genre for everyones next pick. Hip Hop was chosen and for the second pick of this round member Scott Coates chose A Tribe Called Quest: People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm.

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Review Gil Scott-Heron: Pieces of a Man

Gil Scott-Heron’s Pieces of a Man was mentioned often as a very powerful influence, namely the song ‘The Revolution Will Not Be Televised’, which is a spoken word politically powerful piece that highlights the struggles of the black population in the United States during the late 1960s. We listened, we mostly liked, and we learned a lot about GSH.

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A Tribe Called Quest: People’s Instinctive Travels and the Paths of Rhythm

Released on April 10, 1990, it was the group’s debut album. From Queens, New York, A Tribe Called Quest formed a friendship with hip-hop act Jungle Brothers, both groups formed a collective called Native Tongues, which also included De La Soul. They played with beats, technology and built their skills in the rap world.

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Gil Scott-Heron: Pieces of a Man



Darren Scott, April 2020

Our four Sonic Collective members decided it would be fun to pick a random genre of music that we could use as a guide for a round of album selections. Member Scott Coates spun virtual wheel like a champ and in the end the winning genre was ‘Hip Hop’.

As I (Darren) get to kick off the round I was really excited. I love my Soul, Funk, Hip Hop and Rap. As a huge fan I wanted to do something different. I decided to go back to the artists that influenced the Hip Hop and Rap genre. Listen to my selection audio and find out what lead me to select Gil Scott-Heron. Hey, we can always use more of the name ‘Scott’ in our group! Ha ha.

Gil Scott-Heron: Pieces of a Man Wikipedia

Rapping History on Wikipedia

On Spotify:

Other artists I though about picking this month were:

Pigmeat Markham, Grand Master Flash and the Furious Five, DJ Kool Herc and A Tribe Called Quest (My favourite!)

Review of Dr. Dre: The Chronic

Please read our selection article of Dr. Dre The Chronic before reading our reviews below.
This month’s pick by Alain DuPuis definitely got us fired up one way or another. Our reviews varied but we all had strong opinions about the album so that always make for great reviews. Instead of summarizing like I(Darren) usually do, I think you should just take 10 minutes and read our 5 reviews and watch the embedded videos.
I do want to warn you that this month’s pick definitely contains lyrics that will offend people.
What was cool about Dr. Dre: The Chronic:

  • The album as a whole is an entertaining listen and defined the G-Funk style that influenced so many rappers to come.
  • The introduction of Snoop Dogg and the use of other great rappers like Nate Dogg, Warren G, The Lady of Rage and RBX.
  • The social commentary, though hard to take at times, told a story of poverty, racism and injustice that needed to be told at this point in history.

What we didn’t find so cool(Please take note that even though some of us are rap fans this is 5 white late 20s to mid-40s Canadian guys writing this so we were not exactly the target audience) :

  • Though the lyrics were telling a social story at times they were also outrageous, silly, misogynistic, homophobic and way too full fat dicks, balls, n-words, etc.
  • The skits had a few giggles but it was felt they were mostly distracting and stupid and broke the flow of the album.

We have also implemented a rating scale that you will see below in the reviews. All ratings are out of 5.
Our Reviews Average:
Overall opinion: 4
Would we recommend?: 4
Influenced our tastes: 3.5
Worth the hype? 4.5
Read our full individual reviews below. 
Don’t agree with us? Have a comment or suggestions? We’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment or contact us.

Our Full Reviews

alain-dupuisAlain DuPuis’s Review – This was Alain’s Pick

I really didn’t care much for rap until I watched the movie 8-Mile. It gave me a whole new perspective on the art of rapping, and I became an instant convert. That was back in 2002. Since then, I’ve had to play a whole lot of catch-up, becoming acquainted with the bodies of work from rap artists that I so ignorantly chose to disregard. Some albums are good. Some are terrible. And some, such as The Chronic, are incredible.
As I’m sure I’ve made obvious, I thoroughly enjoyed this one. The Chronic is like a time machine that takes you back to California in the early 90s. By listening to it, you get a pretty good sense of what the hip-hop scene looked like as it became more and more of a mainstream force. Perhaps even more importantly, you get a sense of what the political landscape looked like. The Chronic is full of social commentary that highlights the struggle urban youths faced in dealing with racism, police brutality, and gang culture.
My favourite track is by far The Day the Niggaz Took Over. It’s an emotive snapshot into the lives and perspectives of people in Los Angeles during the infamous L.A. Riots. Quick history lesson here: On April 29th, 1992, Four LAPD members were acquitted of using excess force on a black man named Rodney King, despite graphic video evidence detailing their savage beating of the unarmed man. The verdict sparked an intense, racially charged six day riot in which 53 people lost their lives, thousands were injured, and over a billion dollars worth of property was destroyed. The Day the Niggaz Took Over is an intense song. The lyrics are political, violent, and full of legitimate emotion. The song even uses real audio samples from people inside the civil unrest, chronicling their feelings and perspectives of the events as they were unfolding around them. It’s perhaps a sobering thing to consider that despite being over 23 years old, this song is still just as applicable today. Police brutality and corruption against minorities is still a major problem, and one that has become increasingly scrutinized by the mainstream media once again.
There were a lot of other good tracks on The Chronic as well. I really enjoyed Lyrical Gangbang, largely because of The Lady of Rage’s delivery. (I wish she enjoyed more success in her career, because she’s majorly talented.) Snoop Dogg never sounded any smoother than when he drops his verse in Bitches ain’t Shit. Stranded on Death Row is just a sick track. Everything from the production to the delivery was masterful.
For all its strengths, The Chronic isn’t a perfect album. Some tracks just don’t really do it for me. Let Me Ride is incredibly repetitive. It got to the point where I wanted to skip the song about halfway through every time it came on. And then there are the filler tracks. I don’t know why rap artists insist on putting skits in their albums. Some of them are funny. Some of them are witty. But most of them are annoying and unnecessary. $20 Sack Pyramid? Why? The Doctor’s Office? Shut up.
If you haven’t heard this album in full, I suggest you give it a shot. (Despite being difficult to purchase online because of numerous copyright issues, I got your streaming hookup here:
My personal opinion: 5
Would I recommend?: 5
Influenced my tastes: 5
Worth the hype? 5
Scott Coates’s Review
I thought there were only so many ways to tell niggas and bitches “waass up”, but it turns out there are many, many more. I was aware of NWA, some of their hits are on my playlists, I’d listened to The Chronic 2001, Dr. Dre’s second album, but had never gone full gangsta and put such a work on regular, heavy rotation, until diving in to The Chronic this month. I thought I knew what Dre’s debut was all about, but many listens drew me in to a world very different from my own.
There’s no doubt the sounds and beats contained on The Chronic were ground-breaking and laid the foundation for many rappers that followed. The lazy deep-funk beat on Fuck Wit Dre Day is so familiar, even to a suburban cracker from Canada, I had to remind myself this was the first time this sound emanated, only to be copied and re-worked for decades to come. It literally put Snoop Dogg on the map (boy can he spell his name well). There are a host of catchy tracks on the album, notably Let Me Ride, Lyrical Gangbang (must be Led Zeppelin’s When the Levee Breaks drum beat in there), and Stranded on Death Row, which got me swaggering and dreaming of puffing on blunts with my homies.
Then there’s The Day the Niggaz Took Over, which must be about the 1992 Rodney King riots, and I instantly remembered seeing the TV footage of this epic event when it went down and having no idea what kind of world it was coming from. The Chronic tells the tale of those people, the world they live in, and captures the place and time succinctly. It’s not mine, and tough to relate to at times, but seems accurate and telling.
While I won’t likely regularly listen to The Chronic or go to it for moral inspiration, I appreciate that much of the cleaner rap I listened to growing up, and any of it I enjoy once in a while today, owes a debt to Dre’s debut. But I can only handle hearing about so many ‘nuts on tonsils’, ‘fat dicks’, ‘muthafuckas’, and ‘fuckin’ hoes’, without feeling a few IQ points short and slightly misogynistic.
Overall opinion: 3
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4
Darren Scott
Darren Scott’s Review
How did I miss getting in to this album? I’m a weirdo that likes all kinds of music but I have always been a huge fan of rap and I am proud to say that I was a huge fan of pioneers like Grand Master Flash and went on to listen to all kinds of rap in the 80s and 90s and beyond. I saw 2 Live Crew in Edmonton in 1990 and I loved NWA but yet I somehow didn’t listen to Dr. Dre’s The Chronic when it came out. I know some of the songs and liked them but I think I was so preoccupied with the new grunge sound during those years that I obviously missed out on some great rap. This is my favourite album I have rediscovered in this group yet.
I will say that as I am now a 45 year old that is a little more mature (in some ways), I was worried that I’d find the lyrics too misogynistic, too homophobic, too much n-word and just silly. Though it is hard-core you have to realise that songs are usually a historical journal of a period of time or they are about hope of a change in a situation. This album is definitely a recording of a crazy period in time where Los Angeles was trying to heal from the Rodney King riots and poverty and racism were high. These guys were also still young and trying to make a statement. Though the lyrics can be hard to take for some, they ultimately reflect what it was like in LA in the early 90s so even though I can’t relate and find them a little too over the top and misogynistic I just let myself enjoy the album.
The other crazy part of this album was how it was used to verbally attack former NWA manager Jerry Heller and Easy E who had an ongoing feud with Dr. Dre after a very troubled break up of NWA. From beginning to end Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg tear apart and ridicule their rivals and enemy. Can you imagine somebody hating you so much that you record an album that will be sold internationally that dedicates a good amount of time to this bashing? Wow. Just wow.
As the album is named The Chronic and the cover is a tribute to Zig Zag rolling papers, it would make sense that this is best listened to under the influence of the chronic. I can only hypothesize that would be awesome.
I find that the album plays great from beginning to end though I did find The Doctor’s Office skit stupid and it broke up the album a bit weird for me. I also really liked how the album used Dr. Dre’s friends in a really smart way and he didn’t seem to mind sharing the spotlight with soon-to-be-famous rappers like Nate Dogg, Warren G and Snoop Dogg. Do you think Kanye West would ever let other rappers be featured so strongly on his album? I don’t think so. Very smart of Dre.
This is truly worthy of it’s position as one of the best and most influential rap albums ever and I will definitely keep it as part of a regular rotation, though I will be sure to have my headphones on as this album could offend many others. If you are a fan of rap and hip hop and have not listened to this album watch this:
Overall opinion: 4
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes: 4
Worth the hype? 4.5
Greg-JorgensenGreg Jorgensen’s Review

Right off the bat, let me say that I’m far too white and nerdy to know much about hip hop. I understand what it is, where it came from, and why it resonates, but it never really appealed to me, and I never felt any urge to listen to it. In that respect, it’s kind of like Shakespeare – I understand that without it, we wouldn’t be where we are today…but you’d never find me sitting by the fire reading Othello.

The Chronic hit me the same way. It’s undoubtedly a classic, and I know I’m in the minority, but I feel indifferent. After my first listen, I couldn’t help but think that the whole was greater than the parts…the people involved and the velocity it had upon release was as much a part of its success than the actual songs. 

Speaking of the songs, the energy and emotion that went into making them is clear, but they were all undone by some really ridiculous lyrics. I realize I”m looking at it from the back of a much different hip hop landscape – which, again, wouldn’t exist without The Chronic – but there was only so many times I could hear dudes boasting about bitches sucking fat dicks, how many gats they have, and how many other niggaz they’ve killed before it all just became a parody of itself. Especially knowing now that Snoop and Dre are multimillionaires living in Bel Air. 

That being said, it’s not like disliked anything in particular. A few stray thoughts:

  • This is an album I’d love to have on in the background at a party or working out at the gym. If I worked out at a gym.
  • I was hoping The Chronic would be more like Straight Outta Compton, which I only recently re-listened to all the way through. I found the NWA release to be more creative, experimental, and lyrically diverse. Yeah…they talked about bitches and fat dicks too, but it somehow came off as more political and weighty.
  • I found myself looking forward to the next appearance of Snoop as I listened. To my ears, Dre isn’t immediately recognizable, but Snoop is. After I was done I was inspired to go and listen to some of his older stuff.

In the end, I can only compare it to old-school Connery Bond movies. When I watch them now I recognize why they are important and appreciate their impact, but can’t help but laugh at how goofy they are.

Overall opinion: 3
Would we recommend?: 3,5
Influenced our tastes: 1
Worth the hype? 4

Scott GregoryScott Gregory’s Review

Bow wow wow yippy yo yippy yay
Death Row’s in the motherfuckin house

Awww yeah!  Welcome to the birth of West Coast G-funk mah nizzles! Fresh off his break with Ruthless records, Dr. Dre changed the game. This album also has a really great cover of Ben Fold’s single Bitches Ain’t Shit, which sounds completely different when you take it off the piano…

Aaah I’m just messin’ with ya! Ben won’t be on the scene for a long time, Death Row and Def Jam fill up this album with cameos: Snoop, RBX, Tha Dogg Pound, The Lady of Rage, and of course, Warren G and Nate Dogg. How could this thing not be awesome???


By the time you’re done the intro and Fuck Wit Dre Day you know everything you know about how Snoop and Dre think of Eazy-E:

·         He’s a penguin lookin’ mutherfucker

·         They heard his mama’s a ‘Frisco dyke

·         He can eat a big fat dick.

So yeah, Dre had a little chip on his shoulder, and if Eazy-E screwing him and the rest of Ruthless over for years was the catalyst for this album, we should all be pouring a 40 over his grave. Some think Eazy-E was the least talented rapper in the NWA, but his response, Real Compton City G, is by far my favourite track by him.

I’m going to skip the three singles: Nuthin’ but a “G” Thang, Fuck With Dre Day and Let Me Ride, other than to say that if you’ve only listened to the radio edits you have to pull up this album and listen to the uncensored versions. They’re all golden. Actually, they’re platinum. Multi-platinum. But here’s a couple tracks those monsters overshadowed:

Bitches Ain’t Shit

Like I mentioned above, this song has been covered a couple times over the years, with Ben Fold’s version getting a lot of play. The flow on the amazing track is amazing. I remember hearing Snoop on the chorus and thinking, “I really hope this guy makes a reggae album someday! Ya no. Honestly I had no idea who this guy was, but he laid down a mean chorus and rap. Top that off with strong performances by the Dogg Pound and Dre, and this track belongs on your “cruising the hood” mixed tape.

A Nigga Witta Gun

Confession: I was really into Public Enemy when this album came out, and this track gave me an outlet for my suburbia rage. The only thing that brought me back to rock music were consecutive crazy albums by Stone Temple Pilots, I Mother Earth and Our Lady Peace. Otherwise I’d probably be living in a trailer with Kid Rock as we speak.

Anyway, It’s still funky flow, but I get PE and Boogie Down Productions vibes whenever I listen to it. Let me know who it reminds you of.

The $20 Sack Pyramid

Ok, not a song (unless you get the theme song to the game show stuck in your head), but a hilarious skit. Nothing like trying to win a $35 gift certificate to the Compton Swap Meet. I didn’t recognize the hose, but apparently, her name is “Big Tittie Nickie”.  I’ve never heard of her, and I feel like I still haven’t.

I anticipated your first question, and no I can’t find a picture of her. All that comes up are pictures of Nicki Minaj, which ruins the “quality hip hop” theme we had going.

But, just so we go out on a high note, here are some ladies that prove you can dare to be beautiful and talented at the same time: 

So yeah, if you’re into listening to one of those albums that completely destroyed the scene and rebuilt the next decade in its own image, this might be for you. If you like historical accountings of who needed to eat a big fat dick in the early 90s, this also has you covered. This is some Snoop’s earliest work, so if you’re out to chart his evolution you have to start here as well.

By the numbers:
My personal opinion: 4.5
Would I recommend?: 4
Influenced my tastes? 3
Worth the hype? 4

Dr. Dre: The Chronic

Dr. Dre: The Chronic

If you’re a die-hard Sonic Collective fan, then aside from almost certainly being handsome and successful, you’re likely a keen observer too. No doubt then, you would have noticed that last month Scott did something new with his pick by offering a list of some of the other albums he was considering before he settled on Cheap Trick. (This is a great idea, and one that I’ll be shamelessly stealing.) One of the albums he listed, NWA: Straight Outta Compton, happens to be one of my favourites and brought to mind the trademark production styles of early West-Coast rap made famous by none other than Dr. Dre. I decided that I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend Dre’s debut studio album, The Chronic.
DrDreCorbisDre is widely regarded as the father of the “G-Funk” sound that characterized and influenced hip hop artists throughout the 90s as Rap became more mainstream. According to the near-omnicient Wikipedia, G-funk makes use of Funk samples layered with melodic synths, deep bass, and high-pitched portamento saw-wave synths. The sound is rounded out by a slow tempo, female backing vocals, and a relaxed, almost slurred style of rapping. Dr Dre generally uses live musicians in the studio to reproduce the original music of the samples he chose, which gives his music a much more characteristically “Dr. Dre” sound.
Despite the fact that The Chronic’s sound is quite dated by today’s hip hop standards, when you hear it, you can’t help but think back to an era where Rap was just starting to become mainstream, and brought some of the struggles facing inner-city youth to light for the first time. It was not without its controversy, and some of the songs are quite politicized, which to my mind, makes it historically significant compared to other rap albums of the era that just never bothered to go there.
Kanye West once said stated: “The Chronic is still the hip-hop equivalent to Stevie Wonder’s Songs in the Key of Life. It’s the benchmark you measure your album against if you’re serious.” Pretty high praise, to be sure.
I’m still eagerly waiting for Dr. Dre to put out Detox, but presently he seems content going to the gym, developing headphones, working on a feature-length NWA biopic, and counting his billions (yep, billions) of dollars.
In the meantime then, let’s revisit his debut album, The Chronic.
FYI: The Chronic is difficult to find online for purchase to copyright lawsuits.
Read: 10 Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Dr. Dre’s The Chronic 
Other albums I considered this month:
Tool: Undertow
Between the Buried and Me:  Between The Buried and Me
• The Prodigy: Fat of the Land