Snoop Dogg : Tha Last Meal
Make no mistake, this is a poor, poor album....
Fans from across the world rushed to the site to download the album, surprised yet pleased that their hero's new album was available for free. Snoop's label, Priority, meanwhile, were also surprised, if perhaps a little less pleased, as they hadn't slated the album to be released until December 18.
At the time of writing, details are sketchy as to why Death Row would want to do such a thing to their former artist. Listening to 'Tha Last Meal' doesn't help cast any light on this question either, sadly.
Make no mistake, this is a poor, poor album. Fans visiting the Death Row site could be forgiven for thinking what they had downloaded was maybe an off-cuts compilation of old Snoop material. Beyond a lyrical skit about Bill Clinton that precedes one of the album's few peaks, the off-key 'True Lies' ("What's the use of the truth if you can't tell a lie sometimes?" asks Snoop), there is nothing here you haven't heard before. The titles may have changed, but the songs remain resolutely the same.
For some, AC/DC perhaps, repetition represents the pursuit of artistic perfection - just within very narrow perimeters. Snoop, however, is nearer a hip-hop Status Quo. He just churns out the same record over and over in the vain hope of recapturing the sunny glory of his debut, 'Doggystyle'.
He continues to live the Californian gangsta rapper lie of bitches and blunts to the max and, Jesus, it's boring. After seven years of Snoopiness one would imagine he feels the same way. Nope, he's still the cartoon adolescent who thinks women are there to be fucked or smacked, who thinks smoking dope is particularly masculine, and who has an almost homoerotic love of violence. Snoop Dogg is 29 years old.
Frustratingly, it's a waste of talent. For Snoop has lined up an array of musical back-up here (Swizz Beats, Timbaland, Eve, Master P: all marshalled by Dr Dre), and his is one of the most distinctive voices in rap, but he chooses simply to repeat himself with it. And as Dre pumps out the formulaic, one-paced P-funk, NME is forced to ask if it was actually Eminem who musically re-invented Dre, rather than the other way round.
Perhaps Snoop just isn't a long-playing guy. His singles over the years have usually been good and, as his recent Wu cameo proved, his guest-spot collaborations are often successful. But give the guy a bit of space to explore and he just digs himself a hole and climbs in.
"I'm a gangsta... and I'm still controversial", he claims, over the ludicrous George Clinton chintz of 'Stacey Adams'. It's a tragic boast. In the year 2000, he's less controversial than Coldplay.
To read all our reviews first - days before they appear online - check out NME magazine, on sale every Wednesday
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