"I walked in his studio and saw 146 songs on a big ass list."

- KXNG Crooked, on Dr. Dre’s next body of work.

Dr. Dre is working on a project. Though the legendary producer has yet to confirm as much, enough information has surfaced that its existence cannot be questioned. Whether it ever receives a widespread release is another story. For the sake of argument, however, it stands to reason that Dre intends on delivering a proper studio follow-up to 2015’s Compton, his third album.

It’s presumptuous to assume that this mysterious project is titled Detox, but at this point, it’s become synonymous with a new Dr. Dre album and almost feels like fair play. True, Dre is likely so far removed from the Detox days that his new album will almost certainly boast a different title. Still, it’s hard to deny that Detox will forever be associated with that exciting period of Dre-related musical uncertainty.

Snoop Dogg Dr. Dre

Christopher Polk / Staff/Getty Images

What is certain is the fact that Dre has been steadily building up a collection of new material. In a recent tweet, KXNG Crooked teased that he “walked in his studio and saw 146 songs on a big ass list.” That’s a lot of material, and as hip-hop fans have come to learn, a “big ass list” of songs tends to signal album mode.

Not only that, but Eminem actually revealed that he traded a song with Dr. Dre to secure “Guns Blazing,” their duet off Music To Be Murdered By: Side B. “We actually traded a couple of times,” explained Em, speaking on Shade 45. “cause I did a couple of other songs and I’m like ‘yo you can have that one that I just sent you if I can have [Guns Blazing] and we kinda swapped a little bit. It's very personal. That’s a very personal song.”

The subject matter certainly does cover personal ground for Dr. Dre, who defiantly addressed his widely-publicized divorce with Nicole Young. It’s not surprising that Dre would cover such territory in his new music, and it’s not the only time he tackled the subject head-on. An actual snippet of a KXNG Crooked-assisted track surfaced back in February, courtesy of Aftermath affiliate DJ Silk. "Trying to kill me with them lies and that perjury, I see you trying to fuck me while I'm in surgery," raps Dre, over his signature dark and crisp sound. "In ICU, death bed, on some money shit / Greedy bitch, take a pick, girl you know how money get." It’s been a minute since we’ve heard Dre this worked up, and while it’s possible that time might have diluted his rage, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him tackle the subject of his divorce (and recent health scare) with a venomous edge.

LISTEN: Dr. Dre & KXNG Crooked - Unreleased "Detox" snippet

After Dr. Dre was released from the hospital following a brain aneurysm in January of 2020, it wasn’t entirely surprising to see that the studio was among his first destinations. Dem Jointz, who enjoys a place in Dr. Dre’s inner production circle, shared a picture of the squad behind the boards, signaling that the band was indeed back together. When we spoke with Jointz a few weeks later, he acknowledged that the new Dre project was underway. “It is a mythical creature,” he teased. “But we're having fun and being creative and that's what it’s about.” The timing certainly lines up with the aforementioned KXNG Crooked collab snippet, and it’s possible that the song emerged as a direct result of that post-hospital session.

Is it then safe to assume that Dre’s upcoming album will be made up of entirely new material? And if so, what happens for all of the behind-the-scenes studio footage that fans have grown undeniably fond of?

WHO HAS BEEN SIGHTED

Should we assume that KXNG Crooked’s 146-song list holds true, how many of those songs hail from the last year or so? It’s not entirely uncommon for a hip-hop artist to amass a gargantuan vault; Young Thug and Future alone are said to record hundreds upon hundreds of songs before an album. But what of Dre, a noted perfectionist said to spend hours on a single ad-lib?

Unless he seriously sped up his pace, it’s hard to imagine Dre and his team building up a 146-deep song repertoire in a matter of months. Perhaps it's fair to hypothesize that Dre has been steadily building up to this moment, and some of the potential album contenders may very well stem from years back. Of course, that may be wishful thinking, as some of those studio sessions yielded genuine gold. To be honest, it’s hard to paint a clear picture of what Dre is plotting, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try our best to gain a deeper understanding.

So who has Dre been working with of late? Most recently, the D.O.C teased a picture of himself, Eminem, and Dre, implying that some “Aftermathematics” are afoot. Given Eminem’s own status as a proud recluse, it’s hard to believe that he would take a casual trip down to California for anything other than recording. Throw in a coy caption from the D.O.C, and it stands to reason that Em is a lock-in for whatever Dre has lined up.

Eminem Dr. Dre

 Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic/Getty Images

It’s also safe to assume that KXNG Crooked is a possibility, as the pair are documented to have a duet already recorded. True, it’s never a guarantee that a song will make the final cut, but it’s clear that Crook has indeed put in work alongside the Doc. Producers Fredwreck and Dem Jointz, and Focus.. are shoe-ins as well, being that they’re longstanding members of Dre’s production team to this day. It’s entirely possible that Relapse wingman Dawaun Parker pops in at some point, as the pair did reunite for Eminem’s Music To Be Murdered By: Side B.

Aside from Eminem and Crooked, both of whom have contributed vocals to the project, longtime Dre collaborators Snoop Dogg and Xzibit have also been frequent visitors to the studio. Prior to the release of King’s Disease, Nas was also seen cooking up alongside Dr. Dre, with an Instagram post of their session tagged in Los Angeles, California. Given that the song has yet to be released, it’s possible that the untitled track (check it out below) is among the 146 included on the aforementioned list. 

Another potential guest is B-Real of Cypress Hill, who revealed he had recorded some music for Dre’s upcoming album at some point before December of 2020; should his song make the cut, it would be their first collaboration since “Puppet Master” in 1997. In April of 2021, Dre and Ron Isley hit the studio together, and Fred Wreck confirmed that he was involved with whatever they cooked up -- sounds like an album contender, doesn’t it?

Speaking with the Bootleg Kev Podcast, Carson rapper Jayson Cash confirmed he had visited Dr. Dre’s studio and recorded some music with the Doc. In October of 2020, Quavo confirmed that he had visited Dre’s studio for an unknown purpose; being that the Aftermath mogul was not even remotely involved in Culture III, it’s possible that Quavo was called in to record something for the secretive Dre project. Conway The Machine was also granted access to Dre's studio, though he noted that he only heard some unreleased music -- no mention of any actual recording. And of course, it's a safe bet that Aftermath's own Kendrick Lamar and Anderson .Paak, who both contributed to Dre's Compton at length, will be making appearances in some capacity.

Clearly, Dr. Dre's studio has been a revolving door of talent -- but this is not the first time Dre has been sighted working with several like-minded creatives. Fellow Dre archeologists are likely familiar with a pair of behind-the-scenes videos from the Detox sessions, during which the Doc was seen cooking up with Snoop Dogg, RBX, DJ Quik, Battlecat, DJ Pooh, and more. A quick scan of the comment section features plenty of timestamps highlighting incredible -- and woefully unreleased -- beats, seemingly left dead on the cutting room floor. If there really are 146 songs in play, is it not possible that some of the highlights from a few years back might resurface with a vengeance?

WATCH: Some behind-the-scenes footage of Dr. Dre's Detox sessions from years back

Questions aside, at this point, we have every reason to believe that Dr. Dre will be releasing his fourth studio album in the near future. Page Kennedy, who happened to find himself in the studio with Dre, previously confirmed that he heard the project in a completed state. Only a few days ago, the legendary Grandmaster Flash revealed that Dre had played the new album for him during a recent hang-out session, and he certainly worked wonders in getting the hype train rolling: "I get a call from one of my heroes he invites me to the CRIB he takes me down to the STUDIO he played me a project that will change the game!!" 

As it turns out, Grandmaster Flash's reveal sparked new life into the fans, who appeared finally convinced that a Dre album is indeed on the horizon -- and for real this time. For those of us who have long enjoyed the Doc's countless classic contributions (including some truly haunting beats) few projects can elicit such excitement. It's about time the game was given the chance to feel it again.