Top Ten Dre Songs of All Time – #9 – “Don’t Get Carried Away”

The 9th best Dr. Dre song of all time, as determined by yours truly, is…

“Don’t Get Carried Away”

Honestly, where to start with this song?

There are 3 verses: 2 Busta Rhymes verses bookend the middle verse by Nas. The song is a single from Busta Rhymes’ 2006 album when he was on Dre’s Aftermath Records, called “The Big Bang” (which will show up again later on in this countdown.) Busta holds it down; not his worse, but definitely not his best. Nas, however, delivers what, in my estimation, is one of the greatest rap verses of all time. The execution of all elements of flow is flawless: tight rhymes, interesting rhythms, a flow that, appropriately, flows – that is, the line of tension is constantly being manipulated – with the added impressiveness of what I’ve identified as cross-rhythms in the music. I go much more in-depth on the vesre in my #3 Analysis, which you can navigate to by clicking the preceding link. This is about Dre’s production, anyway, not Nas’ verse, so let’s move on!

As can also be seen in my survey of Dre’s orchestration decisions between 2000 and 2009, the production choices in this song are simply sick. Dre’s instruments include a carillon bell, a hard-hitting church organ, staccato strings (cellos? double basses?) playing the bass line, legato strings playing riffs, timpani drums playing bass lines, legato brass during the verses, as well as his characteristic elaborative ideas, long pedals, and sectionally dividing musical ideas (see the post link above for longer and better explanations.) I can’t think of many other songs that even use those instruments, and certainly no other songs besides Dre’s that use them in that combination. What is very instrumenting in Dre’s production in general beginning with 1999’s “2001” and continuing up until today is his general concentration of all parts of the production besides the drums. His drums (snare, bass, hi-hat, other percussion elements) usually do not stand out very much in the song; it is not that they do not impart a heavy effect to the feeling of the song, which of course they do (as anyone who has heard his “In Da Club” knows), but it is just that they have a lot of their identifying frequencies removed. That is, the bass kick only really sounds like a thud, usually; and the snare drum is usually a real, acoustic one, rather than a crafted synth sound. All of these things are identifiable to a certain extent in this song; the clap snare drum is a little out of the ordinary for Dre’s production at this time.

Furthermore, the organ during the chorus of this song is sick. As identified in the first post in the series, found here, Dre’s sound from “2001” forwards is very much defined by a natural minor scale. The organ in this chorus expands on that. The chords sound very crunchy and dissonant, due to some dissonant intervals, like seconds. Also, as noted before Nas and Busta are on this song. They are just 2 of the ultimately 12 artists who will appear in total on this list. It is very satisfying about Dre’s career that he seems to have done at least one G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Time) song with one of these artists. Who will show up tomorrow? Sorry man, gotta come back tomorrow to find out.

Martin Connor is a music teacher & writer from Philadelphia, PA, with a music degree of high distinction from Duke University who is currently studying for a master’s degree at Brandeis University in Boston, MA, while focusing his research on the vocal melodies of the rap genre. He has contributed freelance articles to HipHopDX, Complex, and Pigeons and Planes, and had multiple articles from his website, go viral on BET, The Source, XXL, and MTV. He teaches rap lessons online through the music school LessonFace, and has a book, The Artistry Of Rap Music, forthcoming from the McFarland Publishing House, scheduled for release in late 2017, as a follow-up to his 2014 contribution to their anthology "Eminem & Rap, Poetry, Race." He welcomes all comments, compliments, insults, and restaurant suggestions at [email protected].

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