Ranked: The 10 Best Tracks Produced by Dr. Dre

The N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton rocketed straight to the top of the box office this past weekend and Dr. Dre’s accompanying soundtrack, Compton, catching serious downloads and plays on iTunes Music since its release.

With the one-time member of the World Class Wrecking Kru front and center, it’s time to put together a Top 10 list of the best beats delivered by the man responsible for the Beats line.

As always with these things, this is a subjective exercise – your thoughts may differ and you’re encouraged to share your picks in the comments below. We’re going chronological because it’s easier than starting arguments over why each track falls where it does.

Top 10 Tracks Produced by Dr. Dre

“Boyz N The Hood” – Eazy-E (1986)

The track that started it all for Eric Wright and stands as one of the first big gangsta rap cuts to hit the airwaves. The repetitive, plinky tone that is featured in the trailer for Straight Outta Compton – and when they’re recording this track in the film itself – would become a Dre signature over the years; a hypnotic secondary element that raises above the overall beat and sucks you in.

“Supersonic” – J.J. Fad (1988)

It was surprising to discover that Dre produced this classic track that sounds nothing like his signature style, but anyone that knows their hip hop history knows this song and that this song bumps. “Supersonic” sold over 400,000 copies and was a certified gold single, and then Fergie had to go and bastardize it on “Fergalicious.”

“Express Yourself” – N.W.A. (1989)

This is one of my favourite samples of all time, as Dre lifted the beat from the song of the same name by Charles Wright and the Watts to create one of N.W.A.’s signature tracks. There’s nothing great about the lyrical content, but use of the mellow, California soul track as the beat makes it stand out and showcased how deep Dre’s crates were back in the day.

“Nuthin’ but a G Thang” – Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg (1993)

Arguably the signature track in Dr. Dre’s catalogue, this was one of the biggest hits of The Chronic and helped propel Snoop’s career and set the stage for his massive debut album. The use of a hypnotic, standout element over top of the bassline and overall beat, the creation of which was capture in Straight Outta Compton as well. Hard to believe this track is 22 years old.

“California Love” – Tupac ft. Dr. Dre & Roger Troutman (1995)

One of the most instantly recognizable tracks of the last 20 years – and not just because it starts by introducing itself by name right out the gate. This beat and Troutman’s talk-box hook makes it stand out from the second it hits and it has held up exceptionally well over the years. UFC fighter Urijah Faber (“The California Kid”) has used it as his entrance music for years and the arena pops every time it comes on, not just because they love Faber, but because the song is iconic.

“Still D.R.E.” – Dr. Dre ft. Snoop Dogg (1999)

It’s crazy that there was a point where people thought “Dre fell off” as the man himself mentions in the opening verse of this signature track that features that familiar plinky element overtop of everything else from start to finish. Easily one of the best “rolling down the strip with the windows down” track of all-time.

“Forgot About Dre” – Dr. Dre ft. Eminem (2000)

If the previous track was the “Hey – remember me?” reintroduction of Dr. Dre to a hip hop industry that somehow fell asleep on one of the most consistent and talented hitmakers in the business, this was the “Didn’t you hear me when I said, ‘Hey!’?” kick in the mouth follow-up. Lyrically, Eminem steals the track (as you’d expect), but the beat is classic Dre and served as a reminder that this dude was still more than capable of making serious hits.

“X” – Xzibit (2000)

Before he pimped rides and tried his hand at acting, Xzibit had a fairly successful hip hop career and this was one of his biggest hits – a signature Dre track that features repetitive elements that get your head nodding right away without thinking about it.

”Let Me Blow Ya Mind” – Eve ft. Gwen Stefani (2001)

First, Gwen Stefani has never been sexier than in this video; for real. Second, the beat still knocks 14 years later. There are clear Dre elements at work here – catchy, repetitive pieces and those little hits over top of the main beat – but it’s also a little more laid back and smoothed out than a lot of his stuff in the past. Do yourself a favour and put this track back into your rotation.

“Family Affair” – Mary J. Blige (2001)

This was the lead single from Blige’s “I’m back!” record, No More Drama, and was one of the biggest hits of 2001, spending six weeks at the top of the charts. As with every other song on this list, the beat is infectious and easily identifiable from the opening bars. For the record, we still don’t need no hateration, holleration in this dancery.

“In da Club” – 50 Cent (2003)

One of the biggest hip hop tracks ever and one of the most recognizable beats of the last 15 years, this is some of Dre’s best work, hands down. Two-times platinum and the song that introduced 50 Cent to the mainstream, your mom knows the words to this song and likes the beat and that’s all you need as evidence that it’s one of the Top 10 tracks Dre has produced.

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte

E. Spencer Kyte is a freelance journalist based in Abbotsford, British Columbia, where he lives with his wife and dog. In addition to his work here, he writes about sports for Complex Canada and covers the UFC for various outlets. His mom also still tells him what to do on a regular basis, even though he’s nearly 40. He tweets from @spencerkyte.

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