A new Dr. Dre record is set to premiere tonight — his first in 16 years — but it will not be the long-awaited Detox. There will never be a Detox.
Given an unlimited amount of time and an infinite budget, the producer dragged the rumored release on for 13 years, officially killing it with the announcement of Compton, an Apple Music exclusive album inspired by the upcoming N.W.A. biopic Straight Outta Compton.
You might imagine that it’s hard to set to work on a project with the words “magnum opus” in mind; the blinking cursor or the blank canvas really can be a terrifying thing. But that’s not the case here. Dre says he just didn’t like it.
So you could call Detox Dr. Dre’s Smile. But don’t call it a lost album. We’ve already heard most of it. In fact, he’s been parceling out pieces of the production all along. So, while we get ready to hear Compton, which debuts on Apple Music tonight at 6 pm, we’ve collected 15 songs that, at one time or another, were rumored to appear on Detox. In an alternate reality, one in which he wasn’t such a perfectionist, this would be the new Dr. Dre album we’d all be listening to tonight.
In 2002, Dre announced that he’d follow-up 2001 with an album called Detox — an ambitious hip-hop musical, he said in an interview with MTV News. But in March 2003, he told XXL that he’d already given the very best of his Detox beats over to 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’, including possibly his breakthrough “In Da Club.”
An article in the September/October 2006 issue of Scratch Magazine named Usher’s “Throwback” off Confessions as a track originally intended for Detox. Just Blaze confirmed, saying: “I did the beat in like 2001 for Dr. Dre. . . the whole concept was him telling hip-hop that she’s gonna want him back when he retires.” The article also suggests tracks from The Game’s The Documentary and Obie Trice’s Cheers were written for Detox.
Now, 7 years after the album was first announced, and with no release date in sight, leaked sessions began to crop up. There was “It Could Have Been You” with 50 Cent and R. Kelly along with a handful of reference tracks performed by T.I., including “I Am Hip-Hop (Detox),” “Topless” and “Shit Popped Off” (appearing later on T.I.’s Fuck Da City Up mixtape).
In 2010, Dr. Dre together with Interscope label boss and future Beats partner Jimmy Iovine jointly announce that Detox‘s first single will be “Under Pressure” ft. Jay-Z. The song leaks early, but the interest surrounding the release encourages Dre to drop two more official singles: “Kush” and “I Need a Doctor.” At the end of the year, Kendrick Lamar puts out “Look Out for Detox” as an additional promotion.
Dragging on into 2011, a whole cache of leaks popped up online, including “Syllables” featuring Eminem, Jay Z, Dre, 50 Cent, and Stat Quo, which MTV News revealed was actually tracked back in 2007 for Detox. The leak also unearthed “Mr. Prescription” with Sly, Nikki Grier and Slim Da Mobster, “Chillin” alongside Swizz Beatz, and “OGs Theme” — another reference track, this one with Ludacris on his best Dre impression.
During an episode of Fight Camp 360, “Die Hard” featuring Eminem premieres and is said to be another official single off Detox.
A full decade after Detox was announced, Dre and Kendrick Lamar release “The Recipe,” which becomes a single for Kendrick’s good kid, m.A.A.d city. Producer Scoop DeVille tells Whoo Kid in an interview that it, too, was originally intended for Detox. Dre passed the torch, and likely, with it, also handed off the last decent piece of Detox.