October 23, 2010

Reader Review: Various Artists - Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000 (April 27, 1999)

(For today's Reader Review, Sir Bonkers, who last contributed a review on a Benzino album, continues down the path of masochism by tackling Suge Knight's attempt to siphon sales from his former partner Dr. Dre's 2001. Like most people, I had almost completely forgotten that Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000 even existed. So go grab a snack (this is a pretty long write-up), and leave some comments for Sir Bonkers below.)

In 1999, Dr. Dre, Kurupt, Snoop Dogg, the Lady of Rage & Nate Dogg had all left Death Row Records behind. 2Pac, the label's biggest star (both then and, arguably, now), was dead, and the head honcho, Marion “Suge” Knight, was serving a prison sentence. The only guy from the original roster still holding it down for Tha Row at this point was Daz Dillinger, one-half of Tha Dogg Pound, who had released Revenge, Retaliation & Get Back the previous year to an indifferent audience. (He would soon leave the label as well.)

Even while behind bars, Marion, the caged Sugar bear, was planning on relaunching his label for the new millennium with an all new team of artists, mainly because he liked to make money and he had alienated every single member of his original line-up. However, he hadn't completely let the past go, or maybe he wasn't entirely confident in the idea of having completely new artists around him, because the people he ended up signing, with names such as Tha Realest, Top Dogg, VK, Swoop G, and Mac Shawn, sounded suspiciously like the people who left Death Row Records high and dry (with a few dirty South rappers, who were popular at the time, thrown in for good measure).

Suge had the idea of releasing a compilation album-slash-label sampler as a way of introducing all of these sure-to-be-household-names to the masses. Also, he wanted to fuck over Dr. Dre yet again, because he was really really mad at him for leaving. As such, there was quite a battle over the name of this project. Dre, who was planning a comeback of his own, had originally released The Chronic on Death Row back in 1992, and by 1996 he had started his own label, Aftermath Entertainment, where he planned on releasing his sequel, The Chronic 2000. However, Suge sued him for the name, a lawsuit that he apparently won, since Dre ended up changing his project to 2001 instead (although there are references to the album's original title in some of the lyrics) and Death Row released Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000 (with the subtitle Still Smokin', which I won't include throughout this write-up because the Interweb doesn't seem to believe that is part of the official title) nearly seven months prior, in an effort to confuse consumers, who are all really fucking stupid (at least according to music industry executives).

Which is how this two-disc project was born. Had it been named absolutely anything else, this would be seen as just a label sampler, but by christening it the sequel to perhaps the most influential hip hop album of all time (production-wise, anyway), Suge Knight created impossibly massive expectations (for himself?). Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000 (why was he “representing” as opposed to “presenting”? Did he do it once before and decide it was so much fun that he needed to re-present it?) was critically panned, but it sold well enough possibly to some of those really fucking stupid consumers and/or people who actually sided with Suge in the battle for Death Row Records: it earned a platinum plaque in its first week (although since it was a double-disc set, that means Suge only sold half-a-million copies). Critical derision doesn't mean anything to me, though, and neither does high sales figures, so here's what I think of it.


Apparently Suge produced this beat himself, under the name “Big Simon” (which is what Kurupt used to call him for some inexplicable reason). It isn't too bad; it features an interesting guitar riff, at least. VK is a Lady of Rage wannabe who, while not sounding very good, doesn’t fuck this song up (although she does make me want to listen to the actual Rage again very soon), and Treach (of Naughty By Nature fame – what the fuck was he doing here?) completely rips shit up. This was decent.

It doesn’t bode well for the rest of the album when the first two songs feature three artists not signed to Death Row Records. Also, goddamn this Tha Realest guy sounds like 2Pac: they must have shared a larynx at birth. Anyway, the beat is inoffensive and so are the guests (although I had expected better from Scarface). The hook is awfully boring and nonsensical, as well. But Tha Realest’s shockingly 2pac-iness distracts the listener from all of this. Which doth not a good song make…

This one’s kind of interesting. Snoop Dogg-soundalike Top Dogg performs pretty much the exact same song Snoop did on his No Limit Top Dogg album of the same year. (Snoop’s version was called “Snoopafella”.) This is by far the inferior version, since Top Dogg, unlike Tha Realest, doesn’t sound enough like Snoop to fool unsuspecting listeners into believing he’s the real thing, but still sounds enough like Tha Doggfather to be perceived as a biter. Also, he lacks Snoop’s charisma. I don’t even care which version is the original: listen to Snoop’s version instead. (Or possibly Dana Dane's original. Just sayin'.)

After listening to this and checking the credits, I’m still not one hundred percent sure whether this is Pac or Tha Realest (and whether they really are two different people), thanks mostly to Suge’s typical shady business practices. The hook, which is just as shitty and repetitive as “Gotta Love Gangsta’s”, doesn’t help, either. I’m also not enough of a Tupac Shakur fanatic to care, since this song is shit. If this really is 2pac’s song, then it was only inserted onto Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000 to juice some of his fans. (I don't think that last sentence included an intentional pun, but it was funny to me all the same.)

Newbie Mac Shawn sounds like a Mystikal clone, which is probably saying too much. Even though the other two featured artists couldn’t have done much to salvage this track, they’re also clearly not even trying. Also, the beat sounds like a cheap Mannie Fresh imitation. Why, Daz, why?!?!

Although the beginning of the song promises an uninteresting “gangsta bitch”/ Lil’ Kim/ Foxy Brown-type of track, it actually become somewhat touching, when female rapper VK talks to her father about finding out about her being conceived when he raped her mother at the age of thirteen and never seeing him again, but that's probably included more for shock value than anything else. I also liked the beat. The only downside to “Curiosity” is that I found VK’s voice annoying, but if you can get past that, then you have the best song of its kind since 2Pac’s “Papa’z Song”. I also dug the synth-solo at the end.

Mac Shawn sounds a bit more tolerable on here, but that’s probably due to Daz Dillinger’s instrumental, which, unlike “I Thought You Knew”, actually sounds like Daz had a hand in making it. Tha Realest’s Pac aping grows tiresome, but that tends to happen when gimmicky rappers receive too much exposure on an album. (I like the fact that this song's title can be seen as a direct sequel to “I Thought You Knew”. Also, has anybody ever asked Daz what it was like to contribute to Death Row Records when all of the artists on the roster were actively trying to imitate his old friends or, in the case of Snoop, his own family? That would be a fucking fascinating interview.)

I liked Bad Azz clone Swoop G’s verse on “Head Doctor” off the last Death Row-released Snoop Doggy Dogg “album” Dead Man Walkin’, so I was looking forward to this track, but this Snoop dis isn’t very good, probably because Suge coerced him into recording this shit, which is why Swoop doesn’t sound the least bit convincing. Sigh. (Swoop G was once one of Snoop's many weed carriers, which is probably why Suge felt he would be the best vehicle for trash-talking his former employee.)

I've always liked Soopafly, and the L.T. Hutton beat is really good. It's too bad that Soopafly’s career never really took off, and L.T. became the main producer for Ashanti’s latest album. This was still a good song, though. (I've always liked Soopafly, too, but mainly his lone hit, “I Don't Hang”, from the A Thin Line Between Love and Hate soundtrack. I think I'll go listen to that again right now.)

Even though this is just another Suge-initiated Snoop-dis (albeit a somewhat cleverly-titled one, since Snoop's new coworkers at No Limit Records prided themselves on being No Limit “soldiers”), it’s still pretty decent. The beat was nice and ominous, and my low expectations of the featured artists (including C-Style, who was also once one of Snoop's friends), were slightly exceeded. Definitely one of the highlights of Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000. (I wonder if Suge regrets that title today, though, since there clearly is a fucking war going on.)

Remember Death Row crooner Danny Boy, late of 2Pac's “I Ain't Mad At Cha”? Suge clearly did. This song was placed on here merely to sell the project to a female audience (which never existed in the first place: how many women do you personally know who actively wanted a 2Pac soundalike in her record collection?) Not only does this shit suck, it also doesn't belong on the same disc as track number thirteen, which we'll get to in a moment. (I had forgotten that K-Ci, from Jodeci and, more recently, the duo K-Ci & JoJo, had some sort of side deal with Suge Knight that required him to appear on these shitty projects. Thanks for reminding me.)

Tha Realest brings listeners his own version of a “Keep Ya Head Up”/“Life Goes On”-type track over an okay beat with a decent hook. (Jewell holds the curious distinction of being the only artist to appear on both this project and Snoop's No Limit Top Dogg. Weird.)

DJ Quik gives Top Dogg the most The Chronic-like instrumental thus far, which makes the star attraction sound much better than he has any right to. This was actually tolerable.

This song would have been pretty bland had it not been for Tha Realest rhyming “perfection” with “erection” while complimenting an unknown female. That made me chuckle. (A bit of trivia: Kurupt (of Tha Dogg Pound) is the only guy to appear on both Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000 and the project it was trying to overshadow, Dr. Dre's 2001.)


Sounds like one of Dogg Food's lesser efforts, which, in this context, means this is pretty fucking good.

I might need more than just the one in order to enjoy this fucking album. (Lord knows why West Coast stalwart Ant Banks, who also produced, agreed to appear on this project. Everybody has to eat at some point, I suppose. Also, who the fuck is Captain Save M'?)

This is by far the best song on Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000. DJ Quik, who is one of the most underrated rappers-slash-producers on the left coast (next to Daz Dillinger) provides a way too fonkay instrumental for 2Pac to spit some above-average lyrics over. The version that appears on this album is actually a remix, although it isn't labeled as such: the original track featured both DJ Quik and AMG, both of whom I prefer over Tha Outlawz. This was alright enough, but it was much better in its original incarnation. This song also appears on Pac’s 2002 compilation Better Days, if I’m not mistaken.

No, you have it backward: you wanna be like them.

This was a bomb ass song. It features two verses by Kurupt (who, if I’m not mistaken, had already left Death Row Records a year prior to this release), with assists from Daz and Soopafly.


Dr. Dre's baby's mama-turned-Death Row songstress (who had a couple of hit songs of her own in the early 1990s) reminded me of TLC in a good way, all the way down to VK's approximation of Left Eye (who was also signed to Death Row at one point). Not too bad.

This was actually kind of nice, if you can get past the 2Pac biting (which, if you haven't figured out from my writings on the topic earlier, is really really hard).

If the chorus wasn’t so abysmal, I might have waited until the very end of this track to conclude that it sounds like ass.

Apparently, this Miilkbone guy (who is in no way related to Bone Thugs-N-Harmony) was dissed by Eminem on his “Just Don’t Give a Fuck”. Suge Knight, sensing yet another way to earn a dishonest buck, decided that Marshall Mathers, an artist who had absolutely nothing to do with Death Row Records, also deserved to feel his wrath, so he quickly signed another white rapper to dis him. To his credit, Miilkbone drops a few not-entirely-bad lines, but the instrumental is way too fruity to make him sound menacing whatsoever. Also, “Miilkbone” has to be the worst rap artist name ever. (Miilkbone was actually around long before Death Row Records came calling, hence Eminem's reference in the first place. I have his debut album in a crate somewhere: this paragraph makes me want to dig it up. Let me know in the comments below if you two would be interested in reading about that.)

This song makes no sense, and the beat was annoying as fuck.

This Kevyn Lewis-produced track rips off elements of De La Soul’s “Me, Myself and I” and has a different Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes clone spit some inane shit over it. Meh.

I'd say that title sums up the album quite nicely. There are some emcees out there who are so terrible that they end up sounding entertaining by default (kind of like a movie that is so bad that it's hilarious), but the cast of characters Suge Knight gathered for this project are just terrible in general: Bad Habitz, for example, throw in every rap song cliché they can think of in lieu of being creative, which demands too much of a listener’s patience.

The beat and hook are decent enough, but the guest rappers ruin what could have been a decent way to conclude this project.

FINAL THOUGHTS: So it turns out that the critics are all right. Think of Suge Knight Represents: Chronic 2000 as a label sampler take on All Eyez On Me, except without the half-dozen classic songs. That leaves you one long shitty album with a few highlights that are only highlights because the rest is so fucking awful. There simply isn’t a great song on here, just a few decent ones and a few good elements within songs that still manage to suck overall. The main problem with a lot of these tracks is that. even when they start off promisingly, one of Suge’s Pac / Snoop / Rage / Mystikal clones comes in to drop a shitty verse that fucks it up for talented Row inmates Kurupt, Daz, Soopafly, Jewell, Danny Boy & Michel’le, who were all thisclose to leaving anyway (or gone already, for all I know). Even decent artists like E-40, Richie Rich, Scarface contribute piss-poor appearances. None of the Snoop/ Dre/ Eminem-disses contains even a single witty line. The songs listed below are the only ones that you could listen to without angering up the blood. But the fact that they won’t piss you off doesn’t mean that you should actually care (except for maybe “Late Night”, but you should track down the original version instead). You should obviously go buy Dr. Dre's 2001 instead: that album sounds more like The Chronic than this could ever dream of achieving. Also, Dre’s album is a classic (with a few bullshit tracks also, but most albums in our chosen genre not titled Illmatic have that problem), while this is a dinosaur from the bygone era of double discs featuring material that was already dated by the time it hit store shelves.

BUY OR BURN? You’re going to have a hard time finding it either on the web or in the stores. (Well, at least here in Amsterdam where I live, anyway. Actual chronic isn’t that hard to come by, though.) And even if you did, it still isn't going to be worth your time or your money.

BEST TRACKS: “Chronic 2000”; “Curiosity”; “Like It or Not”; “Late Night”; “O.G. to B.G.” “I Wanna Be Loved By You”

-Sir Bonkers

(I've always found the rise and fall of Death Row Records to be a fascinating subject. Questions? Comments? Concerns? Leave them below.)


  1. I never knew about that "O.G. To B.G." track... a pretty quality song. Thanks

    And yes the "Who Do You Believe In?" song is a 2Pac song (a song which I don't find all too bad, just not fantastic), that is pretty well the exact same as the original. It is one of the few songs Suge chose not to alter.

    Thanks for running through this album, I never would have bothered. It's after 96/97 and it has Suge's name on it... thus assumed shit (although now I know of some decent tracks that made their way onto it)

    Also I second a Miilkbone - Da' Miilkcrate review and/or a DJ Quik review (any of his albums) of some sort.

    I actually just recently listened to Da' Miilkcrate, as well as the Jay-Z & Big L " '95 Stretch & Bobbito" 7 minute freestyle (which they did to Miilkbone's "Keep It Real"), so it got me wondering what you thought of that album.

  2. Well written write-up but it sometimes showcases your lack of knowledge concerning westcoast rap, & therefore your lack of credentials to formulate some of the critics you have.You make valid points throughout your essay but some of the critics are unfair & it seems you're kicking the row while they were down when this album contains good songs. First, you typed "Newbie Mac Shawn sounds like a Mystikal clone". This shows how much you know about westcoast: Mac Shawn is a Bay Area pioneer (who just got signed by Snoop on Priority Records btw), one of the many relations of E-40 in the rap game, member of the Funk Mobb who had released classic gangsta rap record "It Ain't For Play"(1995) & released "Music fo tha Mobb" in 97 as a solo artist.He's been in the game since the late 80's, so calling him a newbie is totally irrelevant. He obviously goes way back, take this priceless picture as a token LOL http://c4.ac-images.myspacecdn.com/images01/25/l_08c108ee221151f9b776788cee52c84b.jpg .He also sounds NOTHING LIKE MYSTIKAL.Mystikal is known for his speedy delivery and the way he screams on songs. Mac Shawn is laid back, doesn't fast flow at all and is recognizable for his raucous voice,which is the only feature that might liken him to Mystikal.Then, you wrote "I liked Bad Azz clone Swoop G’s verse on “Head Doctor”" : This is totally unjustified to peg Swoop G as a "Bad Azz clone" and to me you're just dissing Swoop G 'cause he was on The Row at the time. For your record, Swoop G was featured on a major project before Bad Azz was (cf. Who Got Some Gangsta Shit off Murder Was The Case OST) so if anybody had to be anybody's clone, Bad Azz would be Swoop G's(he would only be if they actually sounded alike, and I don't think they do, Bad Azz is much more lyrical and his voice is more raucous, Swoop G's flow is way smoother). "(Lord knows why West Coast stalwart Ant Banks, who also produced, agreed to appear on this project. Everybody has to eat at some point, I suppose. Also, who the fuck is Captain Save M'?)" : First off, I don't know the story behind this song's being on this album. Anyway, it must be said that this song was not recorded to be on the project, it was taken off T.W.D.Y.'s(meaning The Whole Damn Yay; a group composed of bay area rappers Ant Banks, Dolla Will, Captain Save M' (aka Captain Save a Hoe) and Rappin'-4-Tay (of 2pac fame)) self-titled album, released the same year. Captain Save 'M isn't much of a rapper, even though I like his verses on this song and the humor displayed in his raps but you might recognize him as the dude in The Click's Captain Save a Hoe's video, who happens to spit the ad-libs at the end of the song. Anyway, I think this song is my favorite off the whole compilation. The beat is just excellent, the hook is catchy, and Ant Banks is almost at his best. Captain Save 'M is also pretty fucking entertaining. That being said, this project is alright IMO. It's obvious that the diss tracks' motives are malicious and is the result of Suge's tactics to eat off Dr. Dre's seminal 2001.Of course Tha Realest and Top Dogg were recruited as Pac's and Snoop's poor sound-alike but some of their verses may actually be decent(well especially Tha Realest, I've always found Top Dogg very dull).Hence, I liked Tha Realest's verses on "They Wanna Be Like Us" (even if what you said about the track makes perfect sense) and "It's Goin' Down". & it's no wonder that he is still around in 2010 (he released an album last year) collaborating with the likes of WC,C-Bo,Yukmouth,& even The Outlawz. So, if even Pac's close aces get down with him, I guess he's not that shitty, right?
    Anyway, this is a nice write-up overall, I just don't agree with the anti-Death Row bias which leads you to over-exaggerate some of the critics.

  3. @Anonymous: I am not anti-Death Row. I just think this album is a overly long, messy affair with bland beats and few talented rappers and a lot of cheap tricks intended to have stupid people buy this such as the involvement of Tha Realest & Top Dogg, the old 2pac songs and the title itself. Thanks for reading!

  4. I hear you, and I agree, to an extent, about the "cheap tricks" and the dubious concept of the album, but the problem here is that you seem to have let your image of Death Row impair you judgment and you have associated some solid rappers (albeit not fantastic) such as Mac Shawn, Swoop G or Captain Save 'M with Death Row formatted clones like Tha Realest (who, as I said in my previous post, can be decent) and Top Dogg. That's my main point of contention here. Otherwise, I think you're write with the album's being overly long and its general inconsistency. My favorite tracks are: the DPG ones (OG 2 BG, Like It or Not), It's Going Down, They Wanna Be Like Us, and of course, Drinks On Me. If anyone is interested, the Like It or Not video is on youtube as well as the original version of It's Goin' Down, which features Tha Eastsidaz' Tray Deee instead of Tha Realest.

  5. The fact that "It's Goin' Down" didn't use to feature tha Realest strengthens my beliefs that Kurupt and Daz haven't had any creative input in this project and didn't have a choice about being featured.

    It may seem that I have a bias against everyone signed by Suge for this project but I don't.

    I really like Crooked I who unfortunately isn't on here since that may have helped this be a better album...

    I just think tha Realest sounding like 2pac is too disturbing for his lyrics to even fucking matter. Yeah, he isn't the worst rapper to ever grace the mic but I find Suge's handling of Pac's passing: Get me another one of those!, appalling and thus tha Realest's performances creep me out.

    I think everyone agrees on Topp Dogg not only being a Snoop biter but also a terrible rapper.

    I don't care from where Mac Shawn hails, on "I Thought You Knew" I think he sounds like he's biting the No Limit/ Cash Money-style and that's not my favorite style of rap anyway although I can appreciate it when it is well executed, which I think this shit isn't.

    That goes for everyone on here as well: I didn't like VK much but "Chronic 2000" and "Curiosity" are good songs.

    I didn't dig anyone of Swoop G's contributions here but his verse on Snoop's "Head Doctor" was some smooth shit.

    Anyway, I don't consider myself an expert on Westcoast rap. I just wrote down what I knew about these people, who they reminded me off (coincidentally?) and what kind of feeling the songs on here gave me (Mostly negative).

  6. @Anonymous: Could you also read through my Benzino review? (the only Benzino review on this site) I suppose that album gives me the same feelings this one does you.

  7. No problem dude, good writing anyway. I agree with parts of it but I was just pointing out what I thought was a little bit exaggerate or unfair(mostly the adjectives "newbie", "clone"). If you liked Swoop G on Head Doctor, he released two albums in 97 and 98 (respectively Undisputed and World Don't Take Me Personally). They're both on a smooth tip and they're both very decent you should check them out. The second album has a song with 2pac in it, I doubt it's an original recording but it still sounds pretty good to my ears. This album also contains a diss song aimed at Snoop Dogg featuring Lil C Style and it's also pretty good.

  8. Tile GroutMarch 01, 2012

    Suge is an interesting character; even likable in many ways. Although he was viewed as a kind of Black Militant back in the '90s, Suge viewed a person's race as a non-issue. Like many South Central-area African-Americans of his generation, Suge grew up with elderly white people in the neighborhood (fixed-income retirees with no inclination to leave Inglewood or Compton as their children and grandchildren did). As in Suge's case, older white folks were often neighborhood baby-sitters or day-care providers. A lot of well-known '80s and '90s L.A. gangster rappers have similar stories.

    As for the album? It's awful! Just because Suge is a likable man in many respects doesn't mean there isn't a reason for all the burned bridges. This album is just plain shitty.

  9. Suge Knight is a badass, but I wonder if Death Row will ever make a comeback, probably not... whatever.

  10. This guy actually wrote that "Who Do You Believe In" from Pac was a shit song. You can clearly tell from reading this that this guy is a 2Pac hater. This guy lost all credibility bringing bias into a review.