Dr. Dre fans had a reason to celebrate when he announced the release of his first album in 16 years last week. To make things even sweeter, the hip-hop mogul and super-producer will donate royalties from the new album, Compton, to build a performance arts center in his home town of Compton, Calif.
Dre shared the news Thursday night on DJ Zane Lowe’s Beats 1 radio program on Apple Music, preceding an exclusive stream of the album prior to its August 7 release.
According to Dre, the original idea for the arts center came from Compton Mayor Aja Brown, who was overcome with zeal when the rapper expressed in his interest in funding the project.
“I’ve been really trying to do something special for Compton and just couldn’t quite figure out what it was,” he said. “[Brown] actually had this idea and she was already in the process of working on it. I said ‘Boom, this is what we should do.’”
Brown expressed her enthusiasm for the project and for Dre’s involvement. “He clearly has a heart for Compton, especially our youth,” she said of the rapper. “I believe this performing arts center will provide a pathway for creative expression, exposure and training to the myriad of industries that support arts, entertainment and technology — while providing a much-needed safe haven for our youth.”
Compton is known for its violence and poverty — topics covered by countless LA rappers including Ice Cube, Kendrick Lamar, Snoop Dogg, Dr. Dre, and N.W.A. In the midst of the crack epidemic in the 1980s and the LA Riots in 1992, the city saw a significant rise in crime and gang violence. According to the 2010 Census, Compton has since seen a decrease in violence, but the problems remain. About 26.3% of Compton’s residents live below the poverty level, which further perpetuates gang-related and other violence as resources are scarce.
Compton, Dr. Dre’s first studio album since 1999’s 2001, was inspired by his experiences in his hometown, and the N.W.A. biopic, Straight Outta Compton, which opens in theaters Aug. 14.
Dre’s third album was originally titled Detox, but he decided to scrap the entire project that had been 16 years in the making because he didn’t like it and began working on Compton after feeling inspired when he was working on the N.W.A. film.
Compton features 16 brand-new Dr. Dre tracks and fiery guest-verses from Eminem, Kendrick Lamar, Ice Cube, The Game, Xzibit, Snoop Dogg, Jon Conner, and soulful hooks from Jill Scott, BJ the Chicago Kid, and others. The album also features a track with guest-production by legendary beatmaker DJ Premier, and verses from newcomers King Mez and Justus–who along with Lamar, assisted Dre in crafting the album’s lyrics.
Compton is currently available for stream exclusively on Apple Music, and will hit stores Aug. 21.