Bow wow wow yippy yo yippy yay. It’s hard to believe it’s been almost a decade since Dr. Dre introduced us to the lanky voiced smooth player who was quick to let his gat pop “one-eighty-seven on an undercover cop!” Snoop’s charisma and personality have helped him to maintain his fanbase, even through mediocre full length albums like “Tha Doggfather” on Death Row and “Da Game is to be Sold Not Told” on No Limit. Speaking of No Limit, even if this IS “Tha Last Meal” that they get to eat, you have to give it up to Master P for not only freeing Snoop from Death Row but giving him the breathing room to revive his career. I don’t think any of us wanted Snoop to be a hip-hop history footnote.

Right from the stizzart you’ll be happy to see that Snoop gives a fullNINETEEN course meal on this joint – he’s not just offering you a plate of crackers and cheese. Initially I was worried when I saw “featuring KoKane” on EIGHT tracks, since this dude’s biggest claim to fame would be the song “Nickel Slick Nigga” on the “Deep Cover” soundtrack, the same soundtrack that brought us the D-O-double-G. Fortunately Snoop hasn’t sold us out – KoKane is doing his own Nate Dogg thing and crooning his thang on hooks. Actually, it might be nice to hear him rap on ONE track, but I’m glad he’s not stealing Snoop’s shine.

In terms of production, Snoop definitely brought out the hard hitters to give him beats: Dr. Dre produced four tracks, Scott Storch produced three, Battlecat does two and Timbaland does two tracks. Surprisingly, some of the best music comes from the lesser known names. “Go Away” has a slinky proto-Dre funk as hooked up by Meech Wells, with an assist by Jimmy Roach on the guitar. Wells also hooked up Snoop’s snappy “Issues,” which is the Big Dogg’s chance to address the ish on his mind and the questions he gets asked:

“What y’all wanna do? Seems like
these niggaz wanna talk all night
What we gonna do? We ain’t gon’ say nuttin mo’
We gon’ get with y’all, on site
That’s how it’s ‘sposed to, see
So all that straddlin the gate tryin to get close to me
Y’all niggaz need to stop
Tryin to flip the hip-hop script, I snap crackle and pop”

Snoop’s versatility seems to find him comfortable over anything he’s given to rap to, which makes good tracks like Battlecat’s “Stacey Adams” sound even more pimpish. Make no mistake, he IS pimpin: “colder than Fillmore Slim, tilt that brim; Snoop Dogg – gon’ to sell that trim.” This album is anthems for the players, the hustlers, and the G’s. What you expected? If his past history didn’t tell you, or the Timbaland funkdafied lead single “Snoop Dogg” didn’t tell you, now you know. The things that’s smooth about Snoop though is his floss is evident – he doesn’t need to brag about being the biggest or having the most wealth and women, you just know he’s out living lavish. You might call this album “Lifestyles of the Rich and Scandalous.”

Don’t think that Master P isn’t in the mix just because Snoop is getting ready to depart. He shows up on the DoggyStyle/No Limit collaboration “Lay Low” which has a typically thumping Dr. Dre piano beat, and the typically bouncy No Limit style “Back Up Off Me” laced by C-Los. Magic nearly steals the show on this one, but heads are still gonna wish for something as menacing as C-Murder’s cameo on “Down With My Niggaz” last time out – he’s nowhere to be seen on this last No Limit album, and that’s a shame.

Now it’s obvious to say some people are gonna want to talk nothing but shit about this release. There’s a group of diehards who have been waiting on Snoop’s downfall since he first came out. In fact, some of them would probably like to see Snoop go out the way Tupac and Biggie Smalls did. Success breeds envy though, and to say that Snoop isn’t successful would be a motherfuckin lie. When you hear the synth-whine G-Funk of the Scott Storch produced closer “Y’all Gone Miss Me” at the end of the album, you can either hate because you think Snoop is overrated or you can just dig the cool vibes that Big Dogg is parlaying to you:

“Windows on tint, ridin like the President
It’s evident, shit I’m doin good
I moved out the hood like I should (say what?)
And then they had the nerve to call me Hollywood (nigga what?)
But I don’t give a fuck, if I’m misunderstood”

Even Las Vegas casino employees don’t deal this much game. There’s too much here not to like. The uber-massive “Set it Off” with everybody from MC Ren to the Lady of Rage rapping over a sinister Timbaland beat (we NEED a new Rage album, and SOON) is ill, but it’s just as ill to hear Snoop SINGING on Battlecat’s silky “Leave Me Alone” track, sounding like he could give TQ a run for his money. Even the “Game Court” skit by Mac Minista will have you bumping the funk in yo’ whip; if you’re not laughing til you swerve off the road. And that’s what it’s all about – Snoop is having fun, and wants you to come along for the party. Let’s ride!

Snoop Dogg :: Tha Last Meal
8.5Overall Score