Everyone’s heard of Snoop Dogg (and if you haven’t, you must’ve just crawled out from under a humongous rock)! Since his discovery by Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg (real name, Calvin Broadus) has been recognised by many for his smooth, chilled rap technique, his revival of ‘izzle’ talk and ability to freestyle with unerring flow. His last album, before the release of Bush, saw him take on a new persona in reggae music; Snoop Lion and while the experiment was a fairly successful one, many of his fans wanted their pimping Dogg back (and yes, for a while Snoop was a pimp).
With a deliberately ambiguous title, Bush sees a return to rap for Broadus, and with such successes as “Drop It Like It’s Hot”, “Snoop Up Side Your Head” and “Gin & Juice” in his west coast hip-hop style, it’s sure to be lucrative for the Rastafarian rapper. For this, his thirteenth album, Snoop has enlisted the talents of many-a recognisable artist (and when you’ve sold 35 million records, it’s got to be pretty easy). With features by Stevie Wonder, Pharrell Williams and Gwen Stefani (to name a few), the ganj-advocate has managed to amass a serious list of friends and acquaintances.
While Snoop has returned to his rapping roots, there is a lot of R&B influence (as opposed to the g-funk of his classic records) on Bush. Lead single, “Peaches N Cream” features rhythm and blues titan Charlie Wilson who sings through most of the song and this only adds an extra strength to a strong track that continues to build upon a reputation that isn’t about to be sullied. The catchy hook, west coast beat and big-yourself-up lyrics are almost typical of the Doggystyle rapper and this is clear throughout the album. Opening track “California Roll” is another case of this R&B influence, as there are guest vocals from Pharrell Williams and Stevie Wonder – each bringing a signature skill set to their positions on the tracks. Williams’ hook is infectious and when coupled with Dogg’s auto-tuned semi-rapped vocals (almost like Ye’s “Blood on the Leaves”), it makes for an apt opening to Bush. The main issue with “California Roll”, however is Stevie’s relegation to backing vocals (despite his voice/playing being as strong as ever) and, under the circumstances, this is near criminal. It’s a shame he doesn’t take any times at the fore, but Williams’ production is strong and it makes a passable entré to Bush.
One of the oddest experiences on the album comes with the closing number; “I’m Ya Dogg”. Much of the track doesn’t feature any Snoop rapping and then there’s the difference in ability of the two feature rappers: Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar. Ross clearly has friends in high places as he continues to wheeze through his rapped verses on recordings and features and it’s a shame that he drags down an otherwise competent track. The spotlight, clearly, should be shone on Lamar’s verse as he runs through his signature stop/start articulate rapping in an inimitable fashion. Lines such as “I’m your D-O-double-G and I need more Pedigree / What it D-O? Puppy chow, I’ve been grown and so off the leash” display and express how much Lamar has grown since his humble beginnings on Section.80.
What holds Bush back is inconsistency. There are highlight tracks or moments, but there’s very little consistency throughout the record. Snoop’s rapping has been stronger and a mixture of neo-disco, R&B, west coast hip-hop and pop don’t fit as well as they could do. Pharrell Williams’ producing skills have done some favours to the album, but, again this is in no way dependable. Snoop does, at least have a legacy on his side so this slight blip shouldn’t harm him too much.
Release: 12th May 2015
Genre: West Coast Hip-Hop / R&B / Pop
Previous Works: Doggystyle (1993), Reincarnated (2013) and R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece (2004)
Influences: N.W.A., George Clinton and 2Pac
Contemporaries: Dr. Dre, Ice Cube and Nate Dogg
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