What happened, Snoop?

Tuesday, October 31, 2017 - 12:41pm

NOSELL

Doggystyle Records

 

Snoooooooop (cue “Drop It Like It’s Hot” background vocals)! Snoooooooop! Snoop? Snoop?!           

If you’re looking for Snoop Dogg, Snoop Doggy Dogg, The D-O-double-G or any classic incarnation of the legendary G-Funk rapper who ignited the hip-hop world with his sly voice and swagger-oozing flow, you will not find him on Make America Crip Again. Instead, you’ll find an artist in the midst of an identity crisis, so torn between the worlds of old and new hip hop that he was forced to release a project full of contradictions, as undefined and insecure as 2017 Snoop himself.

In general, Make America Crip Again is an EP meant to embrace and celebrate Black culture in the midst of racial struggle under controversial leadership. Lines like, “Them black boys is balling out, the whole block been eating,” and, “The world is yours nigga, so go and see that bitch,” certainly elicit a positive message meant to encourage and celebrate Black Americans, and Snoop’s motivation behind the album is certainly commendable. However, as an artistic project, the laudable characteristics of Make America Crip Again do not extend further than intention, and listeners are left with an outdated and insubstantial collection of songs under the name of one of rap’s former greats.

Snoop’s Make America Crip Again lacks in two major areas: Message and music — two of the most basic categories regarding album quality.

Given that the EP’s title is a play on President Trump’s fabled slogan, “Make America Great Again,” one would think the album tends towards the political; it does, but in ways that are at times contradictory. On the album’s opener, “M.A.C.A.,” Snoop preaches about uniting Black communities across boundaries of color and creed with the lines, “Now just imagine if we stop shooting our own kind / I’m a Crip with no color lines, that mean I’m colorblind.” At face value, there is nothing wrong with these lines — an end to futile intraracial crime is an important emphasis in socially conscious hip hop. However, this message hits a wall when met with lines like, “Me and my homies gangbang on the field,” and, “Locked in, locked out / Talk shit, get socked out,” that only seem to emphasize and encourage the senseless violence and prideful disputes within Black communities that Snoop originally derode. This contradiction, though sometimes common in rap, feels particularly odd here. His assertion of dominance and competition seems counterintuitive to Snoop’s moral of solidarity.    

Even the title, Make America Crip Again, lends itself to a contradiction with the rapper’s supposed message of unity — can Snoop preach togetherness with an album title built on the inherently violent bipolarity of gang violence and drug wars within urban centers? The album cover is also entirely blue, only further muddying the waters of Snoop’s claims. Though many argue that the prevalence of gangs in urban centers may provide a sense of community for Black Americans who need it most, the support of such inherently competitive organizations does not quite align with Snoop’s initial “drop your weapons” message — even the most inclusive gangs still battle rival gangs; the rapper’s “colorblindness” is only superficially encouraged. If Snoop really wanted to profess solidarity within Black communities, perhaps ditching the Crip support in favor of a more unified and consistent theme would have been more effective.

Musically, Make America Crip Again is forced and simply misses the mark. Snoop, who made headlines a few months ago for hilariously impersonating trap rappers and exposing the lack of originality in today’s rap, surprisingly became exactly what he spoke out against. The music is just not suited for the Snoop we know and love; the straightforward, booming beats dilute the rapper’s charming tendency to sit back on the beat and swing his rhymes. Instead, listeners are jarred with far too simple and concise lines hidden behind slight autotune that lack wordplay and mirror the likes of Future and Playboi Carti.

Snoop obviously pigeon-holed himself with his latest project, and in doing so he became something we never wanted him to be. With an unclear message and an unappealing music array, Make America Crip Again is a failed project, and Snoop is clearly struggling to keep up with the rapidly evolving hip hop world. Instead of grasping at straws to become the next Future, Snoop should take a step back and embrace his role as The D-O-double-G, the funky and spunky Long Beach rapper who developed G-Funk and famously encouraged us to stay “laid back.” We’ve seen flashes of classic Snoop Doggy Dogg in recent years — just listen to his verse on “Institutionalized” by Kendrick Lamar and you’ll be sucked back into the height of West Coast rap in the ’90s. The sooner Snoop returns to this form with his solo projects, the better.