Snoop Dogg – ‘Bush’

Snoop Dogg - 'Bush'

Score

Stevie Wonder and Pharrell help the rapper out on off-the-pace but fun thirteenth record

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. If he did a gangsta rap album now, it wouldn’t wash, and neither would another reggae record like his patchy 2013 effort as Snoop Lion, ‘Reincarnated’.

Later in 2013, Snoop released a low-key synth–funk mini–album, ‘7 Days Of Funk’ with Californian multi–instrumentalist Dâm–Funk that made more sense than ‘Reincarnated’, and it’s no surprise that ‘Bush’ – his 13th album proper – ploughs a similar furrow. This time, though, the producer is Pharrell, making ‘Bush’ seem like the slicker, major-label version of ‘7 Days…’, which came on LA indie Stones Throw.

Snoop and Pharrell have previous, particularly 2004 single ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ – a monster smash that Pharrell wouldn’t top until co-writing Daft Punk’s ‘Get Lucky’ and Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’. You’d expect ‘Bush’ to have at least one huge track on it, but it doesn’t. Instead, it’s a groove of an album caught somewhere between Zapp & Roger, Rick James and Parliament/Funkadelic. Snoop takes a surprising back seat, singing low in the mix and seldom rapping. It’s an odd decision, but it works and when ‘Bush’ is good, it’s an absolute joy, like lead single ‘Peaches N Cream’ and opener ‘California Roll’, a classic ode-to-California track featuring Stevie Wonder on backing vocals and playing his signature chromatic harmonica.

An ultra-pouty Gwen Stefani appears on ‘Run Away’, then Kendrick Lamar and Rick Ross deliver verses on closer ‘I’m Ya Dogg’ – both decent songs, but lacking edge. And therein lies the problem with ‘Bush’ – it’s luscious on the ears, cleverly put together and terrifically good fun, but it feels off the pace, like Pharrell hasn’t given Snoop his best tracks, or it’s coming out too long after ‘Get Lucky’. Still, having a barbecue this summer? Stick it on; everyone will bug out.

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Director: Pharrell Williams