Nowadays when an artist records 40 or 50 songs for an album, most of the leftovers will appear on mixtapes and leak online over a couple years. But in the days before the Internet Revolution, the only time an artist’s vault of unreleased material was emptied was if they died and the industry vultures picked their copse clean. When WIDEawake purchased the legendary Death Row Records, they promised to empty the vaults from the golden years of the label when Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg [click to read] and Tha Dogg Pound [click to read] reigned supreme.
A good chunk of Snoop Doggy Dogg: The Lost Sessions Vol. 1 isn’t “new” old material but original and/or alternative versions to songs that have since been released. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, over the years we’ve been treated to a lot of superior original versions that were shelved due to sample clearance issues and the like. “Serial Killa” from Doggystyle is reincarnated here as “Eat A Dick.” Much of the beat is in tact (likely Dre‘s infamous perfectionism at work), but Kurupt, Daz [click to read], RBX [click to read] and D.O.C. are replaced by more S-N-double-O-P. This version may trump “Serial Killa” for some, but either way it’s a great song. Best known as a standout track on Daz‘s Revenge, Retaliation & Get Back, “O.G.” [click to listen] appears here with a slightly different beat and no Daz verses. This version certainly feels like it was made in the mid ’90s, unlike Daz‘s more refined version that appeared on his acclaimed, ’98 solo debut.
While it is basically just an outro with Snoop talking, “The Root of All Evil” is one of the better tracks on the LP. This is mostly for Dr. Dre‘s production, which notably features a bassline he later reused for the album version of 2Pac‘s “California Love.” “Fallin’ Asleep On Death Row” [click to listen] is easily the best “new” song here as a Chronic-era Snoop reminds us how ferocious he was. What was to be the title track on his debut appears here (featuring George Clinton rather than just sampling him), clearly a wise choice to leave off the album. It is a quality song, but would have been sorely out of place on Doggystyle.
The bad comes with songs such as “Put It In Ya Mouth.” No, it’s not an Akinyele cover, it is yet another unreleased version of “Head Doctor.” After two versions appearing on Suge‘s baller-blocking Dead Man Walking and Death Row’s Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Greatest Hits, this one should have been left alone even if it wasn’t the worst of the three (which it is). “One Life To Live” is also pushing the boundaries as a superior version was just released on The Chronic Re-Lit [click to read] barely two months ago as “Poor Young Dave.” Other material will bring the phrase “I can see why this was left on the cutting room floor” to mind. “Funk With Ya Brain,” “Caught Up” and especially “Gravy Train” fall into that category. “Life’s Hard (A Dedication To 2Pac)” is in fact a remix/cover of a still unreleased 2Pac song. Cover songs are often done to pay tribute, but usually it is well known material and not obscure, unreleased material. Was Snoop going to try and pass this off as his own at one point? Who knows? But it is strange.
“Hoez,” featuring Tha Dogg Pound (and produced by Daz) perfectly represents the dichotomy of these types of albums. On the surface the song is nothing short of awful, with pseudo freestyle raps over throwaway production. But at the same time, it is a snapshot of the era, where the studio sessions full of booze, drugs, homies and hoes were as legendary as the music. Without question, this was the scraps of Snoop‘s unreleased catalog from his Death Row years with nearly two full albums of “lost sessions” already released by Suge. Casual fans have little reason to pick this one up, but for those of us who were around for Death Row‘s domination, this is must-have material.