Snoop Dogg is more than a rapper at this point. He’s a pop culture icon. He’s a guest star on sitcoms and late night talk shows. He’s a brand, a trademark, an identifiable product even to those who have never listened to his songs. He’s the Big Snoop, not to be confused with that little one called Joe Cool who likes to steal blankets from fools. If it were legal to sell marijuana without a prescription in all 50 states, best believe that he’d have his own brand of chronic in every drug store and neighborhood grocery. He’s more bud than Budweiser and damn proud of it too. The best part of all for Mr. Calvin Broadus is that his hits are more than just sticky icky icky. Every album he drops these days makes a splash and has a chart smash, and “Doggumentary” has already had TWO. Let’s get “Wet”:
“Can you be my doctor? Can you fix me up?
Can you wipe me down? So I can lick you up
Make you give it up, give it up, ’til you say my name
Like a jersey, jersey, shuttin down the game
Be my head coach, so you can put me in
And never take me out, ’til you can taste the win
Do it again and again ’til you say my name
And by the way – I’m so glad that you came
Tell me baby are you, wet (wet, wet, wet, wet, wet..)”
Snoop displays the kind of experimental attitude on “Wet” that comes with years of success. It’s not the first time Snoop has fucked with the expectations of his fans, but he’s not just singing this time, he’s letting his voice be vocally AutoTuned by The Cataracs. As the wetness of song goes “drip, drip, drip” in the chorus, the off-key notes seem to hit and reverberate like water falling on glass jars and copper pipes. The jars and pipes themselves seem to be sitting in the middle of an echo chamber. A track this bold could collapse under the weight of its own creativity, but Snoop is the stabilizing factor in the middle of the monsoon. The third verse changes the music from futuristic to a lush finger snapping melody and if anything distorts Snoop’s vocalsMORE, like he’s singing into a broken rusty microphone. Any or all of these things could be wrong but Snoop is such a pimp on the mic that he just makes it work. “Boom” on the other hand is the traditional Snoop:
“I’m all about the money, the money I got
On the V.I.P. tip, Maserati’s in the lot
Chillin with the stars where the bottles never stop
Got a model on my lap, baby show me what’cha got (boom!)
With a cup for Landi, Tiffany and Sandy
Girls who like girls, wanna do it to daddy
Real talk, the suites is next
One mo’ drink gon’ lead to sex
These girls is bad, the flo’ is packed
They shut the do’ down when it reached the max
What’chu tryin to drink? Clear or ‘gnac?
She got a apple bottom homey all I do is mack
I does it well, your game is whack
I gets to the bid’ness no chit-chat
Now where do we go? I beats the gush
She in love with the gangster, that’s whassup”
It might be a little cliche to have T-Pain do the hook of your song in 2011, but people once said the same thing about Nate Dogg being on tracks – R.I.P. On top of that “Boom” is one of Scott Storch’s most energetic and inviting tracks in years – a big medley of synthetic keys, heavy 808 thump and neon nightclub bliss that never allows itself to overshadow Snoop’s boisterous personality. It’s the best single Storch has produced in the last two years other than Big Boi’s “Shutterbugg” and shows he may again be a force to be reckoned with behind the boards.
Speaking of not overshadowing Snoop, “Doggumentary” has a plethora of guest stars – some of whom are to say the least unexpected. There’s a playful whimsy to his duet with country music star Willie Nelson that works on “Superman” even if you’re not a country music fan. Snoop’s been down with the P-Funk for years, so it only makes sense to have an original funkateer like Bootsy Collins make a cameo on “Toyz N Da Hood.” Other guest stars are much more predictable but no less welcome – Devin the Dude on the DJ Khalil produced “I Don’t Need No Bitch,” R. Kelly on the slow and low “Platinum” from Lex Luger (it might just be too thuggish sounding to crossover, a rarity from a R-Kels cameo), and it ain’t no fun if the homies can’t have none so Daz Dillinger, Kokane and Too $hort guest on “Take U Home.” You’d swear George Clinton was singing the hook. And of course Kanye West had to get a piece too, producing/appearing on “Eyez Closed.”
Now at 21 songs and well over an hour long, I can’t lie to you, “Doggumentary” is a healthy piece of real estate. Even though the Snoop D-O-double-G trademark is a seal of approval enough to convince both casual and long-time fans to get this album, maintaining consistency over so many tracks is a hard thing to do. Usually a Rick Rock track is one of my favorites on any album, but I don’t feel any chemistry between Snoop, Young Jeezy and E-40 on “My Fucn House” and the song is a noisy mess. “Wonder What It Do” isn’t that bad, but it plays into the stereotypical late 70’s/early 80’s amalgamation of funk/disco/R&B to the point it IS a cliche, and I just don’t care for Uncle Chucc’s crooning. “Sumthin Like This Night” leaves me ambivalent – Damon Albarn’s production and Snoop’s rap both come off like a circus act under the big top. In the right mood I can dig it, in the wrong one I can’t wait to skip it. Jake One’s piano work on “Gang Bang Rookie” is top notch, the Larry King samples are funny, but whoever Pilot is he clearly IS a rookie not worthy to hang with Snoop.
There are more hits than misses on “Doggumentary,” so you have little to fear if you add this album to your collection. It’s easy to predict right now that “El Lay” featuring Marty James and “My Own Way” featuring Mr. Porter are future hits off this album, and although it will probably be banned from radio and video due to content “This Weed Iz Mine” with Wiz Khalifa should be too. “Doggumentary” has one thing in common with other recent Snoop albums above all else – it’s clear that Calvin’s so content with his career that he can rest on his laurels a little and enjoy himself. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with that. Snoop has been paying dues for two decades and change now, so he’s earned the right to be a brand, an icon, a television star and most of all a rap legend. “Doggumentary” won’t tarnish the polish on his O.G. status.