Snoop Dogg sure is having one hell of a late-career rediscovery.
After more than two decades in his revered gangsta rap persona, the D-O-Double-G reinvented himself as a peace-loving, rastacap-wearing reggae crooner for 2013’s Reincarnated. After that he had a brief stint as SnoopZilla, for his one-off 7 Days of Funk album with Dam-Funk, and a longer stint as DJ Snoopadelic, a phase which pretty much explains itself.
For his latest project, BUSH, the unlikely hip-hop chameleon teamed up with Pharrell Williams for an upbeat set inspired by old-school funk, disco, and modern EDM music. Think Kanye’s 808s filtered through the jazzy funk amalgam of To Pimp A Butterfly’s production. What you end up with is the funnest, most-focused set of Tha Dogg’s career.
The record opens with “California Roll” – a piece of sunny, Golden State-loving funk set over the bass-line and rhythms of “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” It’s followed up by the similarly dancey, similarly shallow bangers like “This City,” “So Many Pros,” and Peaches N Cream.”
The overall production, as we’ve come to expect from Pharrell, is near perfect and unbelievably fun. And Snoop is at chillest and slickest here, rapping or not. But even that can’t save lines as dull and clichéd as “She’s DTF ’cause she’s down to feel” (from the almost obligatory sex song “R U A Freak”).
Of course, you could make the argument that Snoop has never been very lyrically adept, and you’d be right – he’s made a career of sticking to hackneyed hip-hop themes, never trying to give them a new and unique spin, just delivering them in that impeccable flow that could make a laundry-list sound cool as hell.
That flow may be warbled and garbled by autotune this time around, but the funk is straight vintage Snoop; it’s been a staple of his sound since, of course, his years on Death Row (Records) with Dr. Dre. In that sense, this may be the truest reinvention of Snoop Whoever we’ve seen yet.