What Dr. Dre can teach us about letting go

As a fan I have waited for over a decade for this moment, Dr. Dre dropped a new album last night “Compton” inspired by the movie “Straight Outta Compton.” Dr. Dre has been one of the most sought after producers for a long time so when rumors of an album called Detox started to surface in 2002, the music world was abuzz with what Dre could come back with. We would stay that way for over thirteen years, until Aug 1st, 2015. That was the day that Dr. Dre said that Detox was officially a dead project.

Five days later Dr. Dre drops “Compton,” his first album (if you ignore the singles “Kush” + “I Need a Dr.” from the aforementioned Detox) in over 16 years — it was worth the wait. But that isn’t what I want to talk about, instead let’s talk about barriers.

There was something preventing Dre from putting “Detox” out, the rumors of the 50 Cent projects getting in the way may have been part of the issue but five years ago Dre stood on stage with Eminem at Ford Field and said it was coming, as in soon.

It never did.

It never came because he knew it wasn’t right, didn’t fit the image he had in his head, it — to him, was garbage. But he kept at it because he said it was coming and the longer he pushed this failed project up the hill the more pressure he felt and the worse and farther behind the project got.

Until he let go.

As the story goes Dr. Dre was on the set of “Straight Outta Compton” and came back from the movie absolutely invigorated, sat down inspired and recorded an entirely new album — “Compton.” Dre did this quietly because he learned from Detox, Dr. Dre knew that he needed to ship and now he was ready to do just that — six days after he announced he did it.

The lesson here is about barriers, perceived or otherwise. Barriers can cripple you, they can paralyze you, barriers can turn excitement for a project into dread and dread into apathy. Apathy gets zero things done.

Dr. Dre did something different, went to a movie set of a movie that was about his origins as a producer. The energy around this movie from those who made it and those want to see it — was infectious. Dr. Dre took that energy and turned it into art. So maybe you just need a change of scenery, get around things and people who inspire you, take a walk in the woods, go on vacation, try something you have never done before. See what those things do to your barriers and what it does to your art.

What have you been holding on to for far too long, instead of taking a chance on the art that wants to get out? Listen to “Compton,” you will know what I mean. There is power in freeing yourself from a failed project. There is even more power when that freedom creates something even you didn’t know was in there.

Eric HultgrenComment