Evolution (n): a
process of change in a certain direction.
Often, reviews of major releases tend to focus (in my opinion unnecessarily) on
whether or not the artist has "grown" or "matured" since his last previous
album. Snoop Dogg is a beast, plain
and simple. He can't possibly grow into a bigger beast, any more than he could
grow into a smaller beast. A beast is a beast is a beast - even if the beast
has been dormant at times.
What Snoop has done over the years
is evolve from a beast into a true artist. This album proves that start to
finish. First of all, there's 21 tracks. That's a lot of songs, and each one is
artistically distinct from the others. That in itself is a major
accomplishment, considering the fact that Snoop
Dogg has been establishing his brand of Dogg-music for well over a decade.
"Think About It" is a rapid-fire, don't blink or you'll miss it wonderful
introduction to a long, long stroll through the mind of Calvin Broadus. "That's That" (f. R. Kelly) is an easy anthem about, well, ahh... ok that's not the
point, -one of those beats that makes a Midwest
guy like me almost want to learn to Crip walk. Almost. Speaking of beats, "Candy"
is equally as sick, this time courtesy of an ill Diggable Planets sample and booming 808's made for cruising in Cali. E-40 leads it off with his usually quirky vibe and Snoop comes in family style, tossing
around metaphors about different types of candy. He pauses only to introduce Mc Eiht. Daz hops on just for fun, and the result is a wonderful little west
coast party. My jaw dropped when Snoop
ended it off with an uncharacteristic "holla."
"Get a Light" is a Timbo trip
through the jungle and features Damian
Marley, but unfortunately the two don't match. "Gangbangin' 101" is
tried-and-true west coast gangsta music. The beat is slightly slipped, which
gives the track a real cali-weed feel. The
Game stars on this one, with two verses about the glamorous side of gang
affiliation. "Boss' Life" and "I Wanna Fuck You" both feature Akon, but only the former features the
hard-hitting Snoop D-O-double G that
we've all come to know and love. The song is well-put together by the Doc; a perfect blend of Hip Hop and
R&B that shows that it can be done right.
"LAX" technically features Ice Cube,
but both Snoop, Cube and the sleepy beat are overshadowed by a wonderful B.I.G. and Puff Daddy sample from "Goin' Back To Cali." "10 Lil' Crips" is
really only notable for the gritty Neptunes
instrumental, and "Round Here" has Snoop
doing a great 50 Cent impression,
singing an extended hook and much of the verse as well, all over Dre's incredible Dido-sampled beat. "A Bitch I Knew" is the latest chronology of
previous sexual exploits, no doubt inspired by Too $hort. And in case you're wondering, yes, there is the
obligatory "Vanessa/ undress-her"
rhyme. But more importantly, the beat is absolutely vicious, something out of
the early 90's.
"Like This" is like, not good. The production reminded me of being in a hotel
ballroom and hearing a wedding reception through the walls. "Which One of You"
is just as not good, this time some guy named Nine Inch Dix meanders his way through an irritating, quirky 'Tunes beat. On the other hand "Psst!"
has a lot going on. There's several allusions to pop hits (which is fun)
including Pussycat Dolls mega-hit "Don't
Cha" and T.I's "Why You Wanna." And
there's the constantly switching 808 beat, not to mention Jamie Foxx singing a sassy hook.
And then there's "Imagine." I believe that an album should be judged on its
best content; not its worst. Haters are going to hate, but the key to a quality
album is to exceed the expectations of your true fan base. With that being
said, "Imagine" just might be the single tightest tribute to Hip Hop since Common Sense made "I Used to Love
H.E.R." Snoop and Dr. Dre re-unite on the mic again to
tell a hypothetical tale of a world without Hip Hop, with all of the infinite
ways that our world would be different. Dre's
verse is the highlight... "Imagine Russell
Still strugglin/ no def jam just another nigga hustlin/ And Ain't no rocs on them
fellas/ just some rocks on them fellas just trying to keep it bubblin/ imagine
niggas just stuck/ from the east to the west coast e'rybody fucked up/ I can't
imagine no less/ it don't take imagination to know niggas been blessed/ with Hip
And if that weren't ill enough, Snoop
ends it off with none-other than Stevie
Wonder. "Converations" is not for the young. The beat isn't the best, but
the sheer fact that you've got the Doggfather
and arguably the most influential musician in modern day music together on the
same track is staggering. Hip Hop history.
So yeah, Snoop Dogg has evolved.
He's at a place and time in his career that 99% of other artists can only dream
of. The Blue Carpet Treatment
reflects that. Is he still on the west side-gang bangin-dope-slangin-pimp-a-bitch
stuff he was on on Doggystyle? Sure.
But now he's also got the benefit of a perspective on the game that few, if any
can lay claim to. And that comes through in the music. Although he's sure to
catch criticism for the album being too long (which it is), and for including
so many guest features (George Clinton,
Nate Dogg, B-Real, R. Kelly, E-40, MC Eihgt, Daz, Kurupt, Damian Marley, The
Game, Akon, Ice Cube, LaToiya Williams, Jamie Foxx, Dr. Dre, D'Angelo, Stevie
Wonder just to name a few) he certainly shouldn't be penalized for
capitalizing on a career in which he's made so many connections and yet somehow
managed to avoid real conflict with anyone. He has made his share of bad songs
and less than stellar albums, but his near-15-year career is one few can
compete with. Snoop is Hip Hop
royalty, and The Blue Carpet Treatment
is only fitting.