Given his status as a certified icon, Snoop’s catalog is one of hip hop’s least discussed. Fans dismiss his work past the seminal debut “Doggystyle” because his subsequent records fell short, with the No Limit albums, in particular, leaving a stain on his legacy. Many overlook 2000’s “Tha Last Meal”, an important record for Snoop that was a turning point for him musically. His run was consistent during the 2000s, bolstered by some huge hits that maintained his relevance in the eye of the mainstream. Yet within hip hop circles, “everyone’s favorite Crip” has always remained relevant despite some interesting ventures into reggae and gospel. He kept putting out quality work that still captured that G-funk feel but appears to be known more these days for memes and his charming personality on social media.
After 2017’s “Neva Left” was better than many thought it would be, “I Wanna Thank Me” is ultimately a frustrating album that sees Snoop stuck between the two styles that built his legacy. You’re either getting that charismatic gangsta posturing over dope west coast production, or the smooth operator clamoring for another club hit by joining forces with a chart-topper. It starts with the former, and DJ Battlecat’s first three tracks “So Misinformed”, “Let Bygones Be Bygones” and “One Blood, One Cuzz” showcase Snoop Dogg at his best.
“Let Bygones Be Bygones” is a highlight, addressing the relationship between Snoop and Suge Knight and thanking him for everything he did for his career:
“I was at the motherfucking top
When I hit my n**** up and said you need to get Pac
Told Daz, hook him up, rushed straight up out the box
Here’s the gang, here’s the beats, here’s the keys, here’s the locks
Then we hit them n****s, it was us cuz,
Look around it still is, just us cuz
Dre rich, Nate gone, and Ricky too
And look at me, Shit I’m about to turn fifty soon
You always said I’d be a star in the game
Now I’ve got a star on the fucking Walk of Fame
I hopped out, c-walked on my star
On the Walk of Fame with a Death Row chain n****!”
Death hangs on Snoop’s mind, particularly on “One Blood, One Cuzz” as he addresses the tragic death of Nipsey Hussle (which is still hard to believe was only six months ago).
Slick Rick is the perfect partner for Snoop on “So Misinformed” as they denounce the political climate in the United States, but for the most part the guests aren’t great. The production darts between posturing G-funk and dated R&B tropes, as if Snoop is still following a checklist from 2002. Swizz Beatz drops a frustrating stop-start beat on “Countdown” that may work in a club setting but outside of the hook, disappoints. We end up going back a decade with some uninspired collaborations with Chris Brown (“Turn Me On”), DJ Mustard (“Blue Face Hunnids”) and Jermaine Dupri (“Do It When I’m In It”).
At 75 minutes and 22 tracks long, “I Wanna Thank Me” requires plenty of stamina. Oddly, it isn’t as egotistical as the title suggests and it suffers because of it. There are too many guests that don’t provide the quality or artistic vision a Snoop Dogg album deserves, so we inevitably end up with one of the more forgettable albums in his catalog. It starts really well but falls off during the middle and by the time it picks back up at Track 15 (“Wintertime in June” with Nate Dogg!), you’ll have moved onto something else.
The fact that the single “I Wanna Thank Me” is the final track sums up how disjointed this album is. Battlecat and Snoop have great chemistry and they celebrate Snoop’s legacy with a playful song that throws in nods to his career.
Snoop as an emcee remains sharp but, much like Method Man, needs to strip things back and stop trying to be everything to everyone. Given Battlecat and Rick Rock once again supply the best product for Snoop to get busy to, an album with them on the boards that play to Snoop’s strengths would be more welcome at this point in Snoop’s career.