It shouldn’t be all that surprising that Dr. Dre’s classic debut solo record would be on Apple Music, since Dr. Dre is employed by Apple Computer. But it’s actually very surprising, since The Chronic has never been available online—at least legally.
The Chronic is one of those records–there aren’t that many of them–that’s simply not on the internet. Really, nowhere. It’s not only absent from the sprawling catalogs of streaming services like Spotify, but it’s not even on iTunes. Even if you wanted to pay for a digital download of The Chronic, you can’t have it. Which makes it feel like contraband. LIKE SOME CHRONIC OR SOMETHING.
The backstory of why The Chronic never came online is interesting. As Rolling Stone notes, in 2011 Dr. Dre won the digital rights to his music in court when a judge ruled that Dre’s old label, Death Row Records, didn’t actually own the digital rights to his music, though Death Row still owns the rights to the physical releases. Dre has a reputation as a ruthless motherfucker when it comes to business, so the little anecdote of him prying his music away from the label he had beef with is pretty amusing.
At least part of Apple’s strategy with Music is securing content that customers can’t get anywhere else. And with The Chronic, Apple’s got just about the best exclusive money can buy. So what if it cost $3 billion?