All posts in May 2015

Snoop Dogg – Bush (Extended Review)

Bush_Album_Cover

We get it. Who really likes to read anymore? Here’s a video version of this review for Snoop Dogg’s Bush.

Snoop Doggy Dogg: the rapper turned actor, brand-owner, podcast personality, and Redditor; one of our favorite foundational 90’s West Coast rappers is back under his proper moniker for a Pharrell-produced album entitled Bush. Snoop has had a long, influential, authentic, and undulating career in music. He has releases under his belt that are nothing short of classics in Hip hop and those albums have shaped the game more than Tha Dogg Pound could have ever imagined. Those releases – Doggystyle, Tha Doggfather, and R&G: The Masterpiece among others – have earned him a seat among the greatest to every do it. That won’t be the first time he’s been with them, however. Snoop has been butting elbows with the greats since the beginning. He was initially discovered by Dr. Dre – that wealthy Rap oracle – who then featured him on The Chronic, properly introducing him to the public as that album did tremendously. After that came Doggystyle and the career journey that resulted from was great and successful it was.

With this release I’m just glad that we are back from his mid-life late-career identity crisis. He was briefly Snoop Lion as well as Snoopzilla, but, if you’re a Hip hop fan, you don’t have to worry about anything that was or was not released under those names. However, I think that this release totally deserves your attention. It’s not a new magnum opus by any means – hopefully none of us were really expecting that – but I do think it’s genuinely enjoyable. It’s also proof that Snoop can still rap fairly well. Though, it’s very apparent on Bush that Snoop isn’t the top dogg of Hip hop anymore. In fact the reigning champ, the top dog of Top Dog Entertainment, King Kendrick Lamar drops in on “I’m Ya Dogg” and lays what I think is the best verse on the album.

I don’t mean this to be read in a condescending tone (because Snoop doesn’t deserve that) but that’s kind of sad to me. Snoop Dogg was once one of the trail blazing, pioneer artists who strengthen the laid back West Coast radio sound in response to the angry up-tempo aggression of Straight Outta Compton. I know his name along with his more overplayed radio hits are trite and don’t mean too much to a music listen who didn’t experience his music when it came out (or attempted to understand that perspective), but Snoop is an indispensable artist in Hip hop history. But today, in 2015 when there are pivotal artists who are changing the game as we speak, Snoop is the one playing catch-up. He’s trying to keep up with these fast-paced artists like, again, K-Dot, who closed out this album. Another artist who Snoop is with on Bush is Pharrell, who produced the album all the way through. So, with these type of collaborations, Snoop does a pretty good job staying with the times. Thanks to Mr. Williams Bush is full of funky, smooth, modern, radio-friendly music, as Snoop generally has rapped over his entire career. Sometimes it gets kind of soft and their pandering intentions are made more blatant, like with “R U A Freak.” But, while on the topic of Pharrell, he’s an artist who I really trust musically. I’ll be looking through the producers of albums that I like because I don’t have anything else to do with my time and find that Pharrell was the producer being odd and unexpected gems. There’s “Suicide” on My Name Is My Name, “Los Awesome” on the Grammy-snubbed Oxymoron, “Sweet Life” on Channel Orange, “good kid” off of GKMC, and some great work in modern radio music like Beyonce and Miley Cyrus. Also, let’s not forget this is the man who produced the immaculate, carved-from-fine-marble Hip hop classic that is “Drop It Like It’s Hot”. If anyone was going to bring Snoop back into some level of musical supremacy it would be Pharrell.

Okay, so the production on the album is great, if a bit of a one-trick pony. It’s classic Pharrell joints that sound great both to the music-appreciators ear and to the ear of the average radio listener. I love how smooth “California Roll” is, I dug how busy and bouncy “Edibles” was, I thought the synth on “I’m Ya Dogg” was nice, et cetera. My major complaint for the album is with the rapping. Maybe I’m missing it, but this album doesn’t feel passionate. I realize that Snoop has been laid back since day one, but he’s to the point of making an album that sounds like a cash-grab. His sound never really had real hunger, at least not to today’s standards, but this sounds like a step further into complacency. Maybe it’s just a sign that Snoop just isn’t for me, but I think it’s more accurate and telling to say that as a rapper he’s not great at keeping up with the times. Another thing that could have attributed to this is Snoop’s overwhelming volume of music he’s already released. It’s very possible — some would say probable — that the Dogg has released all the music he needs to. He has a handful of essential Hip hop albums to claim as his own, and maybe when he says “I do it for the riches” on “Peaches N Cream” he means it more literally than one would assume. It doesn’t really feel adventurous by any means either. None of these songs sound too different from each other let alone other music today. It does have YG’s My Krazy Life syndrome, which is marked by sounding pretty much the same all the way through.

This is an album that sounds nice but feels far too safe. You know, it isn’t like Snoop is tackling any dicey issues here. He’s rapping about what he always has, that being girls and weed. To be fair, he’s one of the best to ever do it, but maybe he’s finally at the end of his wits. Again, I’d like to underscore this point, I don’t think as an album it’s all that bad, Bush just isn’t too special. I suggest you listen to it through and make note of the few songs that you like the best. After that you really don’t need to worry about the others so much being that it’s all pretty similar.

Listen for yourself, though. Here’s a link to grab “Bush” on iTunes.

Personal highpoints:

“California Roll” / “Peaches N Cream” / “Edibles” / “I’m Ya Dogg”

Personal lowpoints:

“R U A Freak” / “So Many Pros” / “Run Away”

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Charlie Johns