Release Date: May 12, 2015
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Rap, R&B, Hardcore Rap, West Coast Rap, Pop-Rap, Retro-Soul, Neo-Disco
Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. was doing more than fine as Snoop Dogg, but after a 2012 trip to Jamaica, he became convinced that reggae was his true calling and that the Rastafarian lifestyle would guide the rest of his life as Snoop Lion. Three years later and his disco-funk album Bush -- a Snoop Dogg release -- resets everything for the masses, but this slick, star-studded effort produced by Pharrell owes a lot to 7 Days of Funk, the 2013 G-funk throwback project Snoop recorded with underground producer Dâm-Funk.
Thank the universe, the Dogg is back. After a bizarre detour in 2013, when he changed his name to Snoop Lion, converted to Rastafarianism and released a reggae album, the rapper has been in the studio with Pharrell again and re-embraced the funk. His 13th album, Bush, is Snoop back to doing what he does best: sleazin’ and steezin’ over sunny-side-up beats, slipping his name into as many refrains as possible, and celebrating being baked.
It’s all change on Snoop Dogg’s 13th studio album, his first since reinventing himself as reggae vocalist Snoop Lion, but everything remains more or less the same. The old moniker is back, as is old collaborator Pharrell, who produces all 10 tracks. We get the inevitable weed paean – “Do not try to get higher than me,” he cautions on Awake – and an abundance of party material, elevated by Pharrell’s glimmering disco.
Snoop Dogg :: BushDoggystyle/i am OTHER/Columbia RecordsAuthor: Steve 'Flash' JuonThere'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.
Love him or hate him, over the past two decades of his innocuous career, Snoop Dogg has become an undeniable icon of the urban scene. Since his start 23 years back, the Dogg’s gone 6x platinum with debut album Doggystyle (now on anyone with a heartbeat’s list of essential hip-hop records), reggae with the stylings of Snoop Lion, R&B, and even k-pop with “Gangnam Style”-infamous PSY on “Hangover”. The one string of similarity that brings all of these various releases throughout the years onto the same singular rung comes in one simple statement: Snoop’s done it all justice.
“I have always said I was Bob Marley reincarnated.” This was Snoop Dogg – or rather Snoop Lion – on his new direction ahead of his debut album under the reggae genre, 2013’s Reincarnated. While his twelfth studio album was certainly a departure, his grand assertion that he was in some way a modern version of the reggae legend was some way off the mark – even if the record somehow managed a Grammy Award nomination. The mixed reviews that met Snoop Dogg’s new venture largely suggested that while the American had made a reasonable attempt at reinventing himself, it was far from convincing.
In 1993, when his debut album, ‘Doggystyle’, came out and he was simultaneously caught up in a murder case, Snoop Dogg was about the most-feared rapper on earth. No longer. Over time, he’s gone through countless reinventions – pimp figure, porn baron, comedy actor, family man, sports fan, Rasta – before settling on what he is now: a kind of blunt-smoking uncle of America, who seems harmless enough and is extremely good at being very famous.
Whatever alias, cultural phenomenon, or musical transformation Calvin Broadus decides upon, the world always takes notice. With album thirteen now in the books, the trapped-in-the-90’s hollering of fans calling for a Snoop release reminiscent of the perennial classic Doggystyle is purely white noise. More so than any other Hip Hop Artist (even Kanye) the Godfather of The West Coast is profoundly steeped in his own artistic intuition rather than fan expectations.
Over the course of two decades, Snoop Dogg’s adaptability has allowed him to move from the G-funk of "Gin and Juice" to the sweaty club anthems of "Down 4 My N’s" to the reggae of Snoop Lion. His voice sounds good over all kinds of production, but some of his best late-period work has come when collaborating with the Neptunes. The success of "Beautiful" established Snoop, the Neptunes, and Charlie Wilson as a powerful team, and led to the Virginia producers contributing several tracks (including the chart-topping "Drop It Like It’s Hot") to his 2004 album, R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece.
Snoop Dogg's 13th album plays like the flip side to Kendrick Lamar's To Pimp a Butterfly: Where Lamar used funk to dramatize the struggles of a Compton native, Bush uses the genre's rhythmic groove to portray Los Angeles as a smoky, sexy, sunshiny wonderland where every day feels like a block party. The one and only D-O-double G is back home after a minor detour to Jamaica as Snoop Lion — and he's reunited with Pharrell Williams, his most effective producer since 2000, who helps him dig deeper than ever into the Seventies vibes that have peppered his career. From the moment opening track "California Roll" hits its "Drop It Like It's Hot"-ish bass line, Bush is a pleasant stroll down memory lane.
For a celebrity with one of the most distinctly recognizable public personas, Snoop Dogg always seems to be tinkering with his identity as an artist. His rap name alone has gone through multiple permutations from Snoop Doggy Dogg to Snoop Dogg to Snoop Lion to Snoopzilla and back again. The basics always stay the same—his everlasting love of weed, the women, the blue flag pride, the unfortunate retrograde misogyny—but each incarnation—from Death Row inmate to No Limit Soldier to Rastafarian spiritualist—offers a slightly different look upon the life of Calvin Broadus.
Snoop Dogg confused a lot of people back in 2013 when he transformed from Dogg to Lion for his reggae album Reincarnated. Admittedly, the guy smokes a lot of pot. By his own admission, he smokes over 80 blunts a day – enough to comatose a stampeding rhino, or perhaps a large segment of Reading Festival’s post-GCSE audience for a week or two. However, Rastafarians argued that this wasn’t really a good enough reason to start calling yourself the reincarnation of Bob Marley.
Over the past year or two, Snoop Dogg has made his lane as a cultural reference point. At 43 years old, he’s the presence who tethers genre-crossing ambition to terrestrial foundations. Kendrick Lamar’s “Institutionalized” finds footing with Uncle Snoop, while on “Dead Man’s Tetris”, Snoop’s slapstick humor purposefully offsets Flying Lotus’ surrealism.
Maintaining relevance in hip-hop is a challenge that all veteran MCs deal with at the latter part of their careers, but in the case of Snoop Dogg, the iconic rapper has managed to evolve and reinvent himself from time to time into a model of gangsta consistency and become one of America’s most beloved rappers. Returning with his 13th studio album, Bush, Snoop leaves behind the Rastafarian moniker Snoop Lion he created on his 2013 release, Reincarnated, and takes listeners down a trippy, psychedelic road with an album full of retro funk and disco. With good pal and frequent collaborator Pharrell Williams spearheading the production of the album, Bush finds Snoop Dogg channeling his inner Bootsy Collins while maintaining his sly, pimp persona over the funky sounds of Skateboard P.
"Bush" album cover. "Bush" album cover. What exactly happened on dance floors in the '70s? That's a question many musicians and club-goers could probably ask themselves about one of music's most decadent (and unfairly maligned) decades. But go ask Daft Punk, a newly re-formed Chic, and now Snoop Dogg: Something profound took hold in that era, where incandescent soul got handsy on a club floor with disco, funk and electronic experimentation.
Snoop Dogg reconnecting with Pharrell Williams, who produced one of Snoop’s best late-career hits, “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” seems like a great idea to put the hip-hop icon’s inconsistent career back on track. So what went wrong with this forgettable foray, which fails to build on the MC’s recent work with Dam-Funk? First, all of the things that made Snoop Snoop — his effortless, laconic flow, clever wordplay, and narrative skills — are almost completely absent. He frequently sings in a key only a dogg can hear (“This City,” “Edibles”), or flips rudimentary rhymes over familiar, user-friendly grooves.