Monday, March 10, 2008
TBG Reviews: Snoop Dogg's Ego Trippin'
2008 marks the 15th anniversary of Snoop Dogg's solo career. While I'm one of the few people left who was there from the beginning, I was really hedging on whether or not to buy Ego Trippin' - his ninth studio album. The first single ("Sexual Eruption/Sensual Seduction") was released last fall and I christened it Snoop's worst single ever. Not surprisingly, public response was the opposite of my own as Singin'-Ass Snoop scored a surprisingly decent (albeit, regional) hit.
This was still shaping up to be the first Snoop Dogg album I didn't buy until our friends at Geffen Records sent me an advance copy.
Now, we can all agree that 1993's Doggystyle was his finest effort (and the standard he'd unsuccessfully chase for the rest of his career). I'd personally put 1999's No Limit Top Dogg a distant second, with 2002's Paid Tha Cost to be Tha Boss album winning the bronze.
The remainder of Snoop's discography, quite simply, isn't very good. The Rhythm & Gangsta album spawned the biggest hit of his career, but not much else. Blue Carpet Treatment featured several Dr. Dre-produced cuts, but ended up as one of the disappointing albums in recent memory. Tha Last Meal was ruined by rampant bootlegging of the original version.
And, then there's the 1-2 punch that Snoop Dogg's career never really recovered from: 1996's Tha Doggfather and 1998's Da Game Was to be Sold…. Thanks to Ego Trippin', the trinity is complete.
Let's just get it out of the way: this is unquestionably the worst album of Snoop Dogg's long career.
It's rare that I'm moved to openly express dissatisfaction with an album while I'm in the middle of my first listen, but by the halfway point, my scrawny arms were aloft – gesturing at no one in particular – and making faces like a Black Malcolm.
Snoop Dogg – my n-word – what the f*** were you thinking?
None of the beats – not one – work. Snoop's co-conspirators here are DJ Quik and Teddy Riley, among others. Their inexplicable insistence on '70s soul samples and cheesy '80s synths are overused, out-of-place and, oftentimes, unlistenable.
Hey, I think it's great that Kurupt can dust his Black azz off for a cameo on "Press Play", but what it boils down to are a pair of almost 40-year-old rappers spitting over a sound that's almost 40 years old. And, the DeLorean is set for a similar timeframe on "SD is Out". C'mon, Snoop…I miss Roger Troutman as much as the next guy who barely remembers him, but do we need to hear an imitation of his fake computer voice in 2008? Thankfully, Charlie Wilson's still around to drop his ubiquitous "shabba dabba tweet tweets" on the track. Can't get enough of those.
Snoop keeps the guest spots to a minimum, as he drags Too Short in for the hyphy/down South mash-up "Life of Da Party". Equally irrelevant has-been Raphael Saddiq must work pretty cheaply these days, as his cameo on (wait for it) "Waste of Time" shows.
We go "international" for a few minutes on "Sets Up". It's got an ersatz Latin feel to it (like a knockoff of R. Kelly's "Fiesta") and, lyrically, comes across as a Snoop Dogg gangsta dance song. "Let it Out" sounds like it's India-influenced on the opening and the bridge, but it's all on cruise control from the moment Snoop opens his mouth.
The door is forever closed on that old Snoop sound here. He channels David Banner on "Staxx in My Jeans" (featuring the hook: "I got staxx in my jeans/Phantom up in my garage/My pockets look like Rerun/Your pockets look like Raj"). Then, Snoop does his best Bonecrusher on "Ridin in My Chevy". These ones still weren't as bad as the unapologetic sell-out anthem "Deez Hollywood Nights" or the country-western twang of "My Medicine" (dedicated to Johnny Cash).
From beginning to end, Ego Trippin' in exercise in Snoop Dogg's own self-indulgence. It's a vanity record within a vanity genre that plays more like a giant middle finger to anyone whose ever been on board his bandwagon. This one's worse than Doggfather and worse than Da Game is to be Sold…. It's a failure of cataclysmic proportions. Make God have mercy on your soul, Calvin Broadus.