It’s become a tradition around these parts. Every time a truly momentous album drops - you know, along the lines of 2014 Forest Hills Drive or To Pimp a Butterfly - we get to work breaking down every last person credited in the liner notes. Any site can create an album guide filled with big names, but we’ve learned that to truly appreciate a project, to really understand what an epic undertaking it is, you have to dig deeper, discover new names you didn’t know before, the producers who provided that perfect sample, the session players who contributed that horn section.
And since Compton is undoubtedly a momentous album and by all accounts the kind of project that hinged on collaboration, we had to dive into the credits and list every last person listed; 44 as of this writing, but if we missed anyone, let us know. So from Andre Brissett to Xzibit, this is your complete guide to Compton.
Credit: Writing credit on “Loose Cannons”
Andre was kind of tough to track down, but I’m creepy good at (work-related) stalking and I found him. In addition to having a credit on Kendrick’s “The Recipe” he has also produced for Jesse J and Alicia Keys.
Credit: Writing credit on “"Talking to My Diary"
Anthony Johnson is better known as Slim the Mobster. He appears on the last track of the album with M. Johnson (a.k.a Mista Choc, we’ll get to him later), who is Slim’s uncle. Both seem to have known Dre since back in the day, Slim was formerly signed to Aftermath and for a minute Dre was really pushing him as a solo act.
Credit: Writing credit on “Talk About It”
I couldn’t find anybody named A.J. Baptiste, but through a contributer we will get to later, I found out “Jean Baptise,” which is totally him. Anyway, Jean is producer/songwriter who has worked with Cudi, Madonna, Chris Brown and the Black Eyed Peas.
Anderson .Paak (Brandon Anderson)
Credits: Writing credits on "All in a Day's Work," "Issues," "For the Love of Money," "Animals" and "Medicine Man"
My man Anderson .Paak stole the show. As one of his biggest fans I wasn’t sure how exactly he would fit on the album, but the results are incredible. Compton is some of his best work yet. Also, while he certainly got his credits, I’m pretty sure I heard his voice on more than six songs; he had so much to do with the success of this album. Also, for god sakes, check out his last album, Venice.
Andre Young (Dr. Dre)
Credits: A million billion.
This is Dr. Dre. It’s his album. The end.
Credit: Feature on “Just Another Day"
IT’S MOTHERFUCKING GAME TIME!!!!!! Asia Bryant is a singer from South Carolina who has appeared on DJBooth a few times and also had a credit on 2015’s Ludaversial. I really dig her work on “Just Another Day,” it really adds some color and energy to an otherwise gritty effort.
Best Kept Secret (Julian Nixon & Craig Balmoris)
Credits: Production and writing credits on "Darkside / Gone"
Julian Nixon and Craig Balmoris make up the dynamic duo that is Best Kept Secret. As a DC native and Wale fan, I know their work very well. I also owe them four half-smokes for my first go-go song ever, Wale’s “Ice Cream Girl." They have also produced for ScHoolboy, Tinashe, Skyzoo and more. I love how colorful and big their beats are, which is a style and sound that obviously fits well on Compton.
Credit: Production credit on "It's All on Me"
Bink! the the god, the genius, the mastermind behind “Devil In a New Dress,” my favorite beat of all-time. He lends his knack for soulful soundscapes to “It’s All On Me,” which also happens to be one of my favorite efforts on the LP. His samples are so clean.
BJ the Chicago Kid
Credit: Writing credit on “It's All on Me"
Like Anderson .Paak, BJ The Chicago Kid is one of my favorite artists around right now and is one of the best feature artists in the game. He doesn't even need a full verse to make an impact and “It’s All On Me” is a perfect example. Everything he touches is gold.
Credit: Production credit on “Animals”.
If you liked “Animals” I have good news, there is another track that features Premo, Anderson, and BMB Spacekid. Peep, “Til It’s Done.” Spacekid actually introduced .Paak and Premo, so while the under-the-radar Russian producer may not be the biggest name attached to “Animals,” without him there’s no “Animals.”
Credit: Writing credit on “Issues”
Curt Chambers is a singer/songwriter/instrumentalist who is immensely talented. I’ve been checking out his own material and I’m really impressed; dude really knows how to construct a song.
Credits: Two features ("Genocide" and "Medicine Man"), one writing (""One Shot One Kill")
Candice is a name I was not familiar with until Compton. Upon further research I came to find out that she’s a South African singer/songwriter, who in addition to releasing her own album this year, also wrote Rihanna’s “American Oxygen.” This explains her writing credit on “One Shot One Kill.”
Cardiak (Carl McCormick)
Credits: Two production credits ("Deep Water", "For the Love of Money")
Hey I know this guy! I already stalked the New Jersey-born producer when I did the 2014 Forest Hills Drive investigation. In addition to producing for Dre and Cole, Cardiak has also worked with Rick Ross, Wale, T.I. and Eminem. For the record, I think “For The Love Of Money” is one of the best-produced beats on the album, so shoutout.
Cold 187um aka Big Hutch
Credit: A feature ("Loose Cannons")
Due to the fact that West Coast rap is my rap-nerd achilles heel, I had never heard of Cold 187um, who, by all accounts is a West Coast legend and even claims to have created the G-Funk sound that made Dre famous. Fun fact, he is the nephew of Willie Hutch, who was sampled on “International Players Anthem.” That has nothing to do with Dre, but anytime I can reference “International Players Anthem” I’m going to do it.
Credit: A feature ("One Shot One Kill")
The music industry is unreal. One minute Craig Owens is perfoming as the lead singer of the punk/metal band Chiodos, the next he is doing covers of Selena Gomez songs, and then the next he’s appearing on Compton. While it may not quite make sense on paper, there is a heavy rock influence on the album -- so Craig fits in well. He has also wokred with Jon Connor before, so that may have been his ticket in.
Dorian Norman (D.R.U.G.S Beats)
Credit: Writing credit on "Darkside / Gone"
No idea...help!?!Update: Shoutout to the one and only Khrysis On The Boards who informed me that D. Norman is Dorian Norman AKA D.R.U.G.S Beats. He produced "Gone." You can read an interview with him here where he talks all about it.
Credit: Writing credit on “"All in a Day's Work"”
Also known as Danny Keyz, Tannenbaum is a singer/instrumentalist/producer who also has credits with RZA, Evidence, Eminem and Pink. I’d love to know what he specifically did on the LP; is he just a session player or does his involvement run deeper?
Credit: Writing credit on “Intro”
Dontae Winslow is a classically trained jazz trumpeter/producer/rapper/composer from Baltimore, who wrote the orchestral intro. Winslow also played jazz solo's on "All in a Day's Work," "Deep Water," and "I'm Just Talking to My Diary." The man is certainly not new to the stage, having previously played on J Dilla's last album, Donuts, co-wrote the music on JAY Z's "I Made it" (from Kingdom Come), Kanye's "We Major" (from Late Registration), as well as co-produced and wrote Mary Mary's "Biggest Greatest Thing." Not too shabby, huh?
Dem Jointz (Dwayne Abernathy)
Credits: 4 production credits ("Genocide," "Deep Water," "Satisfiction" and "Medicine Man") and featured on “Issues”
One of Compton’s strengths is the diversity in the production and the liner notes reflect that. On the one hand you have Craig Owens and on the other you have Dwayne Abernathy (AKA Dem Jointz), who up until his multiple features on Compton was primarily an R&B producer who has credits with Jennifer Hudson, Rihanna, Jordin Sparks and co-Compton-er Marsha Ambrosius.
Credits: Production credits on "Talk About It," "All in a Day's Work" and "Deep Water"
Though DJ Dahi is one of the most active producers in the game he continues to fly under the radar. The man behind cuts like “Worst Behavior” and “Money Trees” has three credits on Compton and, no suprise, they are some of the most accessible, hit-worthy efforts on the project. I don’t mean that in a bad way either. Dahi has a knack for making complex beats that sound so damn easy, the perfect combination.
Credit: Production credit on “Animals”
Premo is a man who needs no introduction. He’s a legend. If you want to learn abut how “Animals,” the best song on the album, came to be, I suggest you read our interview him, but bascially he had already made the song with Anderson .Paak, Dre heard it and decided he needed to have it for the album.
Credit: Production credit on “Talkin To My Diary”
Silk is a veteran (20 years in the game) west coast producer who boasts a pretty impressive, star-studded Soundcloud page. Part of “Talking To My Diary,” which was co-produced by Choc and Dre, actually appears in a HP Beats laptop commercial from 2010. Pretty crazy this song has been in the oven for at least five years now. He and Mista Choc (see below) form the production team Ginuwin Draftz.
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Credit: Songwriting credit on “Medicine Man”
I’m surprised Dre put him on the album after all those years of being locked in his basement.
Focus… (Bernard Edwards, Jr.)
Credits: Six production credits (“Intro,” “Loose Cannons,” “Issues,” “Deep Water,” “One Shot on Kill” and “Medicine Man”)
Focus… really seems like Dre’s protege. Except for a short hiatus from 2009 to 2014, Focus… has been with Aftermath since 2000 and has produced for the likes of Mac Dre, Christina Aguilera, The Game and Destiny’s Child just to name a few; he has quite the diverse resume, eh? Next to Dre, he is also the most credited producer on Compton with songwriting and production credits on six songs. Additionally, he is credited as the mix engineer on 10 of the 16 tracks.
Credit: Feature on “Issues”
Ice Cube is Ice Cube. He’s preeetttty much a legend so I’m not spending much time on him. I will say though, it’s interesting that though he is featured on the song, he doesn't have a songwriting credit.
Credit: Feature on “For The Love Of Money”
Jill Scott isn’t the first artist I would think to put on a song featuring a Bone Thugs flip, but she does a really great job of establishing the hazy, airy vibe, so props to her. Jill Scott da gawd.
Credits: Feature/writing credits on “"One Shot One Kill" and "For the Love of Money"
Connor is featured on the two tracks listed above and also has songwriting credits on them. He may not be from Compton (he hails from Michigan), but he certainly fits the vibe of the album. He’s also a longtime DJBooth favorite, so if you don’t know him, you better get hip.
Justus (Justin Mohrle)
Credits: Featured on “Talk About It,” “It’s All On Me,” and “Deep Water,” writing credits on “Talk About It,” “It’s All On Me,” "All in a Day's Work,” “Darkside / Gone,” “Deep Water,” “For the Love of Money,” and “Medicine Man”
One of the bigger surprises of the album. Justus is, for lack of a better word, unknown. With only a few lower-quality songs and a mixtape over a bunch of other peoples beats, Dre plucked the 24-year-old Texas native from relative obscurity and featured him on seven songs off Compton. It’s pretty remarkable when you think about it, a kid with little to no experience has a huge role on a Dr. Dre album. Life is crazy, one minute you are living in the Dallas suburbs and the next you are playing ping pong with Dre and writing songs that feature Eminem.
Khalil Abdul-Rahman (DJ Khalil)
Credit: Production credit on "All in a Day's Work"
Veteran Cali producer, one half of Self Scientific, signed to Dre's Aftermath Entertainment, has produced for hundreds of well known artists, most notably 50 Cent, Clipse, Eminem ("Survival"), Fashawn, Game and Slaughterhouse. Go in the studio with him.
Credit: Songwriting credit on "Talk About It"
I just spent a good chunk of time trying to find him and I think I figured it out. I found out Edwards, Baptiste (see above) and Ryan Buendia (see below) are all partners in crime. They seem to all be linked on social media and have very similar production credits. Don’t hold me to this, as I’m not entirely sure, but I think they are also known as Free School, who have a few songs of Chris Brown’s last album as well as one with Miley Cyrus.
Credits: Feature and songwriting credits on “Genocide,” “Darkside / Gone,” and “Deep Water”
Kendrick only appeared on three songs, but I swear I could hear him on almost every song on the album. Compton had a very Kendrick-y vibe to it, but maybe that’s just Dre’s influence on Kendrick’s sound and not the other way around. For the record his verse on “Deep Water” is the best, most lyrical verse on the project.
King Mez (Morris Ricks II)
Credits: A ton.
Not only is King Mez featured on three songs, but he has writing credits on 13 of the 18 tracks. It’s literally easier to name the songs he isn’t a part of than the ones he is: "Intro," "One Shot One Kill" and "Talking to My Diary." He’s far more established than Justus, but for where Mez was at in his career pre-Compton, it’s remarkable to see him have this kind of influence on an album of this magnitude.
Credits: Featured and writing credits on "Genocide" "All in a Day's Work," "Darkside / Gone" and "Satisfiction"
Marsha is a phenomenal singer. I saw her open for John Legend and she killed it; she’s also hilarious. Anywho, I loved the way her vocals were utilized; she has a great traditional voice, but also has a cool left-of-center vibe which helped set off cuts like “Satisfiction.” Also, about a year ago, Dre contrbuted a guest verse to her solid single, “Stronger.”
Credit: Writing credit on “Talk About It”
Michael McHenry is a producer and DJ who, apparently, is the in-house prodcuder for will.i.am and has even written a few Black Eyed Peas songs. He has also written for Rihanna, Madonna, and about a million other chart-toppers. He’s actually the one I found Jean Baptiste through as the both are credited on Cudi’s “Up, Up, & Away.”
Credit: Co-production credit on “Talkin To My Diary”
It’s fitting Choc was credited on “Talking To My Diary,” one of the more personal, historical tracks on the album, because he has been with Dre since the start. His YouTube channel is filled with behind-the-scenes videos including an amazing segment, which features a young Eazy E. Choc, who is Slim The Mobster's uncle, has quite the discography, including Vanilla Ice's "Ice Ice Baby" single.
Neff-U (Theron Feemster)
Credits: Writing credit on “Issues” & writing/production credit on “Just Another Day”
Hip-hip is the best. Just when you think you know everyone and everything you are reminded you know nothing and nobody. I had never heard of Neff-U before, but he has one hell of a resume. He has multiple credits on The Eminem Show, one on Get Rich or Die Tryin', a few off Michael Jackson’s posthumous album and a whole bunch with ZZ Ward, who is one of my favorite singers around. As for Compton, he has an additional writer’s credits on “Issues” to go along with his writing/production credit on “Just Another Day.”
Credit: Writing credit on “Talk About It”
Ryan Buendia is better known as DJ Replay. He has credits on albums from Madonna, Chris Brown and The Black Eyed Peas. I’m trying to piece it all together, but, as I mentioned above, I think he, Kyle Edwards, and Jean Baptiste are all part of this Free School collective/group. Maybe it’s their company?
Sly Pyper (Jordan)
Credits: Writing credits on “"Genocide," “Loose Cannons,” and “Animals”
You know the dude on the hook of Bad Meets Evil single “Fastlane”? That’s Sly Pyper. I wonder if his vocals were featured or if this was just a writing gig?
Credit: Feature on “One Shot One Kill” and "Satisfiction"
So you know who Snoop is, but I bet you didn’t realize he DOES NOT have a writing credit on his lone verse on the album, just like Ice Cube. That means someone else listed here wrote his verse, but who?
Stat Quo (Stanley Benton)
Credit: Writing credit on “Just Another Day”
Stat Quo is a name you may not know but you probably should; he’s been around for a long time. Part rapper, part producer, part entrepreneur, he’s made his living on never doing just one thing and has always been Aftermath family. He even appeared on that same Beats computer commercial I referenced earlier and has compiled an illustrious, DJBooth-featured discography.
The Game (Jayceon Taylor)
Credits: Feature and writing credit on “Just Another Day”
Game is another artist who needs no introduction. Unlike Snoop and Ice, Game apparently wrote his verse.
Trevor Lawrence, Jr
Credits: Songwriting credit on “Loose Cannons," “Issues,” "One Shot One Kill," and "Just Another Day”
According to his website, Trevor Lawrence Jr. is a drummer, producer and writer. Fitting, because all four of the above listed songs have some pretty epic drums. Apparently, he has been with Snoop and Dre since the late ‘90s, but has always done his own thing from video games to playing drums for Ed Sheeran.
Credit: Songwriting credit on “"Darkside / Gone"
Ty Cannon isn’t a producer or a singer, but an Aftermath A&R. Still, that did stop him from contributing to “Darkside / Gone” in some way, shape or form. I’d love to know exactly what he did considering he’s not your typical collaborator. Also, this is way funnier than it should be.
Credit: Feature and writing credit on “Loose Cannons”
X to the Z! It’s been a hot minute! Also, for what it’s worth, unlike Snoop and Cube, X wrote his own verse, hence the feature and writing credit.
Liner note investigations make my brain leak out of my ears, but it’s so worth it. It really is fascinating to get into the nitty gritty of an album. I love finding connections and trying to piece together the puzzle.
Again, I don’t want to beat the ghostwriting thing over the head, but this album is just another example of how collaborative hip-hop has become. From legends in the game to rising stars to virtual unknowns, everyone played a part in making Compton what it is and if you think, for some reason, that a collaborative mindset like that - artists coming together to turn a vision into reality - is lame you need to get straight outta my face.
[Lucas Garrison is a writer for DJBooth.net. His favorite album is “College Dropout,” but you can also tweet him your favorite Migos songs at @LucasDJBooth.]