There's no question Dr. Dre
launched Snoop's career and gave him the signature sound of his early years, but
since "Paid Tha Cost to Be Da Bo$$"
scored a monster hit in "Beautiful" it's clear that Pharrell Williams
has become a classic Snoop Dogg collaborator behind AND in front of the
boards. Their unique chemistry results in Snoop dropping his
"Rhythm & Gangsta" on Pharrell's
Star Trak imprint, where the distinctively quirky production behind "Drop It
Like It's Hot" proved to be equally monster in its crossover appeal. Since
they only seem to come back with more and more hits when they work together
one has only to ask - why don't they do it more often?
It seems they agree and "Bush" is the answer. Once again Snoop Dogg
(abandoning his Bob Marley-esque Snoop Lion persona) has signed with a label under Pharrell's thumb,
and this time it's the i am OTHER
imprint. Rather than just producing a handful of tracks for the album which
tends to result in some of Snoop's most memorable moments, this time the duo
have doubled down by putting his production magic on ALL TEN tracks.
Pharrell's Neptunes amigo Chad Hugo
lends a helping hand as needed, but if you had any doubt that it was about
Pharrell you only need to listen to "California Roll" featuring Stevie Wonder. The
song is as light and delicious as the cucumber, crab and avocado combo it
could reference... but of course this is marijuana loving S-N-double-O-P we're
talking about - so there's an entirely different "California" he was "rolling" here.
Once his amigo P stops singing the chorus, the laconic Snoop Dizzle croons
his verses over the instrumental, peppered with Michael Jackson style
"WOOOOOO" interjections. The harmonica playing adds a whimsical element,
and the big echoing drums that accompany them are vintage Pharrell.
"Let me show you all around
I could show you where all the real get it
And if you wanna go downtown
You might as well roll with a real nigga
I'm not talking bout them fools
I'm talking 'bout me and you"
Snoop is definitely embracing his inner crooner this time around, although on
the album's lead single "Peaches N Cream" he finds a little time to both. He
also gets his Nelly on with
some "you can tell the chaffeur he can park it right THURR," but he's also
channeling his inner George Clinton with sentiments like "freak don't fail me
now" (with a little assistance from Charlie Wilson). The most flattering imitation
is his tribute to Rob Base and the late E-Z Rock in the song's second verse:
"I came to cut right now
Big Snoop Dogg and I came to get down
Yes, I'm internationally known
Libra lovin' make you moan and groan, yeah"
"Bush" showcases a playful and relaxed Calvin Broadus, which shouldn't come as
much of a surprise after a successful three decade run in hip-hop. He's parlayed
his musical talent into acting roles on both the big and the small screen, he's
paved the road for other Southern California artists to achieve similar success,
and though he has an occasional brush with the law (usually over marijuana
possession) he's settled down with his high school sweetheart (they reconciled
and renewed their wedding vows in 2008 after a few years apart) to raise his
three kids. That doesn't mean Snoop has forgotten how to party though, or how
to create a clever music video, as "So Many Pros" looks LITERALLY like
every 70's Blaxploitation movie poster EVER.
There are times that Pharrell could use a little more change up to his approach
though. "R U a Freak" sounds like "So Many Pros" with the tempo turned up. There
could also be more outside collaboration on "Bush," because Snoop has always
sounded good with partners-in-rhyme, but the biggest ones you'll find are "Edibles"
featuring T.I. and the album's closer "I'm Ya Dogg" where Rick Ross and
Kendrick Lamar get in the mix.
The drawbacks to "Bush" are few and far between though, and even these complaints
are more like minor annoyances. If you'd prefer Snoop to rap a little more and sing
a little less I can understand your beef, but with Pharrell producing he can get
away with doing it as much as he does. Snoop has a way of being a bridge builder
and crosser though, so it only makes sense to hear him doing a pop rap song with
Katy Perry (on her album) or Gwen Stefani (on "Run Away" here). He's not the G he
was twenty years ago, but there ain't nothin' wrong with that.
Music Vibes: 8 of 10
Lyric Vibes: 7 of 10TOTAL Vibes: 7.5 of 10