Album review: Snoop Dogg's 'Tha Doggumentary'
Twenty years into his career, the sinewy, menacing Snoop Doggy Dogg of the LBC exists only in a distant haze of hydraulics and weed. His name’s been truncated and his brand is bedrock. He’s a pitchman for fruit-flavored malt liquor and Orbit gum. America’s most wanted has become its beloved eccentric uncle.
Accordingly, the cliché, “you can’t be everything to everyone” has little meaning for the former host of “Doggy Fizzle Televizzle.” No other rapper could convincingly pull off the genre-flouting run at the end of “Tha Doggumentary,” where consecutive tracks feature Too Short and Daz, the Gorillaz, Willie Nelson, and Kanye West and John Legend. After all, no one goes from pimp to pop faster.
To its credit and detriment, Snoop’s 11th studio album takes this big-tent approach. In addition to cameos from R Kelly, Young Jeezy and E-40, Wiz Khalifa, and Devin the Dude, there’s even a T-Pain-aided synth-rap that samples “The Situation” by Yazoo. Yet the most prominent collaborator is Parliament/Funkadelic legend Bootsy Collins, who appears on two tracks and in the process provides an artistic compass.
Snoop rode in on the funk, but his career path diverged to include detours in dirty South gangsta rap and whatever pop trend ruled the day. But on “Doggumentary” he seems unusually nostalgic, invoking long-ago rap parties at World on Wheels and reminiscing on the lessons his grandmother used to teach.
When he’s not trying to satisfy different demographic demands, Snoop returns to his roots to create a laissez-faire funk full of laid-back raps and Jheri Curl groove. It’s a document equally indebted to the gangsta era as its immediate predecessor: roller-rink parties soundtracked by Rick James, Rose Royce and Funkadelic.
Three stars (Out of four)