Album Review — 25 March 2011

By Malice Intended

Snoop Dogg’s 11th studio album, The Doggumentary, is the latest iteration of a formula that Snoop has employed for quite some time.  Packed to the gills with features, the set shows Snoop to be a bit more musically courageous in his older years.  It also reveals a desperate need to remain current in a marketplace that increasingly sees him as more of a familiar media personality than a classic rap artist worthy of reverence. 

“The Way Life Used to Be” features an uncharacteristically somber soundscape from G-Funk veteran Battlecat.  Troubling violins and organs lull the listener into an uneasy trance.  Battlecat then settles into a slightly more familiar groove with “Wonder What It Do,” which is a full on remake of Boz Scaggs breezy soul classic “Lowdown.” The beat is dope but snoop does his usual shtick over it.

“My Fuckin’ House” features E-40 and Young Jeezy.  The trap house production by Rick Rock is suitably uproarious but also boringly standard considering how many songs use that exact same formula nowadays.  Slinky stutter stepping G-Funk is the order of the day on “Peer Pressure.”  It has Snoop delivering a cautionary tale that would have been very out of character in his earlier years.

“I Don’t Need No Bitch” features grand organs over an imposing stomp and clap.  Devin the Dude joins Snoop in celebrating pimpish emancipation from said “bitches.”  The content is as misogynistic as expected, but Snoop and Devin excel at this sort of thing.

“Platinum” featuring R. Kelly is assembly line Lex Luger.  It’s about as indistinct as anything else by the currently in demand producer.  R Kelly sings lyrics brimming with Juvenile sentiments that feel increasingly out of character for both artists.  “Boom,” featuring T-Pain, is yet another full on remake that appropriates Yazoo’s classic “Situation” wholesale.  While it may have appeal for pop audiences, it feels like Snoop is barely trying and neither is producer Scott Storch for that matter.  It’s wholly too obvious.

“We Rest N Cali” is cripped up ode to the golden state featuring Eastsider Goldie Loc.  Outfitted with an Roger Troutman style talkbox voice looped atop deep digging bass, it’s a welcome dose of California love.  “El Lay” is another Cali anthem, a bit more delicate in its sound and construction.  It feels light weight and flimsy in comparison to the track that precedes it.

The Jake One produced “Gangbang Rookie” has a rich musical texture, complete with piano and organ keys that weave and buzz around each other like an incensed beehive.  “This Weed Iz Mine” features Pittsburgh’s current favorite son, Wiz Khalifa.  A glossy guitar strums a care free groove while Snoop and Wiz extol to virtues of Cannabis Sativa.  Surprisingly, the track isn’t bottom heavy enough to ride to and is skeletal to the point of musical emaciation.

“Wet” is a serene concoction similar to “Sexual Eruption” but not nearly as catchy.  It’s initially amusing, but comes off more like a novelty than anything.  “Take U Home” cruises down neon lit boulevards with its elevated keyboards and gooey, sticky bass.  Sir Too $hort , Kokane and Daz Dillinger offer guest spots that don’t go a millimeter beyond what’s expected from those artists.  “Eyez Closed” features John Legend and Kanye West.  It’s easily the most disappointing collaboration on the album and sounds like an outtake from My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.

Doggumentary exists in a weird creative limbo.  Length wise, it continues the recent trend of overly long albums.  At twenty one tracks, it feels marathon in length.   All of Snoop’s verses blend together into an indistinguishable blur.  The over reliance on instantly familiar samples is also a draw back, as are some of the downright gimmicky collaborations (Willie Nelson, The Gorillaz).

Doggumentary is as indistinct an album as Snoop has ever crafted.  It shows not an ounce of growth, and uses its slick production as a subterfuge to mask just how uninspired it all is.  It’s not without its moments, but they are too few and far between to truly recommend this album to anyone but lifelong fans.  Doggumentary serves as a reminder that Snoop has long entered that dreaded stretch of his career where he merely goes through the motions slavishly while relying on past achievements and notoriety.
black-thumbs-upblack-thumbs-upblack-thumbshalf Out of 5

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(2) Readers Comments

  1. Pingback: Album Review: Snoop Dogg – The Doggumentary « The Planet

  2. I’ve been a fan of Snoop for many years, although less so in the last few… Rap has been through mass commercialization and (dare I say it) the gentrification of hip-hop. Many artist now seem more focussed on being “bad boys for the camera”, eclipsing what used to be a way of life. Twenty years ago, if you “sold out”, you might have got yourself shot, nowadays it’s viewed as “getting your mutha f***in money right”.

    Recent albums by Kanye West and Drake have renewed my enthusiasm and passion for hip-hop, but the decade leading up to this point was pretty flat and uninspiring in my book. When I first threw Doggumentary on, my expectations were sky high from all the hype and references to the album being Doggystyle 2. I found myself skipping through the tracks searching for that one song that might just rival the magnum opus ‘Who am I?’ I didn’t find it. So, dissapointed and deflated I let the album play quietly in the background whilst reading a book and went to bed that night thinking it lacked any real identity or killer tracks.

    A week later on my way into work one morning, Doggumentary rolled around on my iPhone and I had an epiphany. To the untrained ear and when listened to in the wrong context, you can easily think the album is a jumbled mess. You need to play this album LOUDLY, with the bass cranked up, walking in the sun, or better still driving a convertible on a summers day with the roof down, the music pumpin out and with some hot bikini clad bitches in the back seat.

    Snoop called the album Doggumentary for a reason, it mixes together flavours of Doggystyle with the more recent sounds that have made you get up and shake your thang. Snoop brings together a line-up of collaborators on this album that few others could. Why? Because he has a gift. Allowing artists the freedom to throw down a good track instantly recognisable as their own style (on his album), but adding in some huge funked up bass that is synonymously Snoopy and overlaying all of that with his smooth velvety tones makes the track so much better.

    This album shows the progression of hip-hop over the last twenty years but like a Tarantino flick, it throws you all over the place rather than taking you through a chronicalogical sequence. It covers a lot of ground and the result for me is a great album that gets better each time I listen to it. Most people will find a track or two they like, but throw it on at a barbecue where you can let it run the whole way through and you probably won’t get too many objections if you leave Snoop on loop.

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