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Track Review

On "I Need a Doctor," Dr. Dre's second single from Detox, his decade-in-the-works third and "final" album, the 45-year-old rapper and legendary gangsta producer carries the weight of the world on his muscular shoulders. The video depicts him standing over an ocean cliff recalling flashbacks of his wedding, family life and escapades with hip-hop buddies, including late rappers Tupac Shakur and Eazy-E, whose untimely death he later mourns. Overcome by sadness and nostalgia and, apparently, the need for speed, Dre guns his Ferrari, wrecking it dramatically on a winding road.

His survival appears impossible. But "years later," as the video tells us, he's seen on futuristic life support in an ultramodern care center, surrounded by docs in lab coats. An angelic-looking woman wearing sometimes revealing strips of billowing, white cloth hovers above singing the chorus: "I'm about to lose my mind/You've been gone for so long/I'm running out of time/I need a doctor/Call me a doctor/I need a doctor, doctor/To bring me back to life."

Enter Eminem, who actually lays down the bulk of this track. Standing next to his incapacitated friend, Em begs—no, commands—that Dre, the mentor who launched his career, reemerge from his injuries:

"You're supposed to f‑‑‑ing be my mentor/I can endure no more/I demand you remember who you are/It was you who believed in me/When everyone was telling you, don't sign me/Everyone at the f‑‑‑ing label, let's tell the truth."

And that truth is, however misguidedly or profanely he expresses it, that Eminem loves his friend and longs to help him. And even in a ribald rap song, that's still a good thing.

He continues: "You saved my life, now maybe it's my time to save yours/But I can never repay you/What you did for me is way more/But I ain't giving up faith/And you ain't giving up on me/Get up, Dre!/I'm dying, I need you/Come back for f‑‑‑'s sake."

He does, of course. And he remembers Eminem's faithfulness—juxtaposed as it is against others' disrespect ("They said they was riding to the death/But where the f‑‑‑ are they now?/Now that I need them, I don't see none of them/All I see is Slim/F‑‑‑ all you fair-weather friends").

And so it appears that this tragic and mysterious alternate reality into which Dre dives serves as something of a wistful setting designed to pay homage to his long-standing professional and personal relationship with Eminem. Skylar Grey, the 25-year-old newcomer who croons the gentle chorus, told Entertainment Weekly, "There's so much passion and honesty and vulnerability in [Eminem's] verses talking to Dr. Dre, and they were both standing there in the [studio], and I could see years and years of stuff—of s‑‑‑ and great stuff, of their lives—just come pouring out into the song."

But also pouring out into the song is a misaligned metaphor for Dre's 10-year music scene "silence." And it's little more than an opportunity for him to call out his "haters" with all the venom of a rattler that's just woken up from a long winter's nap.

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Peaked at No. 4 on Billboard's Hot 100.

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February 1, 2011

On Video

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Meredith WhitmoreSteven Isaac

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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