Release Date: Dec 8, 2009
Record label: Priority
Snoop Dogg's 10th album draws from a smattering of influences, all concisely tied together. He opens by rapping over a loop from HiJack's house music monster hit Possessed, giving the album a bold direction. The whole rave rap thing never really took off, but Snoop plays with it here to great effect. [rssbreak] There are also successful collaborations, like on the snap-heavy Gangsta Luv with The-Dream, and on Pronto with Soulja Boy, which pairs two era-specific rapping styles: early 90s West Coast gangster and late 00s Southern swag.
While some rappers overuse Auto-Tune, Snoop Dogg seems to be running his career on autopilot. His 10th studio album, Malice N Wonderland, is dominated by the same old gangsta clichés, presented in the same slick cadences he’s been using for years, over the same kinds of monolithically booming beats he’s long favored. The album’s least boring moments come when he waxes sentimental about his longtime wife, often with guest crooners like Jazmine Sullivan and Brandy helping switch up the sonic formula.
Who is Snoop Dogg, and just what has he done to become the single most iconic rapper of his generation -- a porn director, a reality TV staple, a pee-wee football coach, a walking embodiment of California stoner culture? The answer dates back to 1993, when the DO-double-G and his French braids were the hottest shit going. Thanks to Snoop’s casual, scowling delivery and simmering beats from G-funk pioneer Dr. Dre, Doggystyle was a whopping juggernaut, easily outselling Enter the Wu-Tang and Midnight Marauders and morphing into a benchmark against which all other blunt-fueled party-hop will forever be judged.
Snoop Dogg’s past couple of albums, 2006’s Tha Blue Carpet Treatment and last year’s Ego Trippin’, were nothing if not endurance tests. The former contained 21 tracks of gangsta recidivism on top of forward-looking production, while Ego Trippin’ found Snoop in a schizophrenic state of mind; one minute hosting a West coast party or poking fun at himself, the next playing country rap alongside Everclear. So to call Malice ‘n’ Wonderland‘s runtime a surprise is being conservative.
MARY J. BLIGE “Stronger withEach Tear” (Matriarch/Geffen) The standout on Mary J. Blige’s ninth studio album, “Stronger withEach Tear,” is its final song, “I Can See in Color,” from the soundtrack of “Precious.” It restates Ms. Blige’s favorite message — that tribulation is the beginning of redemption — in an emphatically unadorned minor-key soul setting.