I’ve never dropped “California Love” at a party and gotten a negative reaction, and I’ve probably played it a few hundred times over the last ten years. There’s something undeniably special about this record that made it 2Pac’s most well-known of his career. It was originally recorded with three verses from Dr. Dre, and wasn’t until 2Pac heard the raw session that he asked to be put on the song. To add to the popularity of the song was the Hype Williams produced video, with a futuristic theme inspired by the film Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The big budget visual for the song pretty much made its way onto every all time Best Rap Video list.
I was surprised to learn that Dr. Dre only produced two tracks on Pac’s double disc All Eyez on Me. When broken down, it is pretty clear that his use of various samples on “California Love” is one of the greatest ever. The first is Joe Cocker’s “Woman to Woman”, which provides the main groove for the beat; a jumpy piano and horn loop. The “California, knows how to party…” hook idea is taken from the 1:09 mark of the ultra funky record “West Coast Poplock” by Ronnie Hudson & The Street People. Lastly, the “shake it, shake it baby” chant is sung by Roger Troutman through a vocoder, where he is actually just interpolating similar riffs that he performed on his band Zapp’s single “Dance Floor.” How Dr. Dre successfully created a record that seamlessly blended the highlights of all these classics is hard to understand, and in the end just one of the production credits that makes him the legend that he is.