Excellence to the ears is rare and evanescent on Snoop Dogg’s 11th studio album, Doggumentary. He doesn’t sound 40 years old, but on a scale of one-to-My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, Snoop’s latest LP finds itself many meters away from Kanye West’s altitude of fresh masterpiece.
A documentary is usually defined as a film, radio or television program based on or re-creating an actual event, era, life story, etc., that purports to be factually accurate. Well, Snoop’s dog-version of this fictional autobiography centers on sex, weed and the West Coast. The lyrics from his latest record indicate that his life is much more successful than the musical caliber of Doggumentary.
Along with a few singles, Snoop pre-released his opinion for this album, saying it’s less about “recreating a ‘Doggystyle, Part 2’ (his 1993 debut studio album). It’s just me doing me.”
Those words are hard to believe, especially considering there are no fewer than 18 featured artists on Doggumentary, which is partially produced by Swizz Beatz. Though it seems Snoop is scraping for inspiration and hiding behind collaboration on his 21-track record, the outside influence is much appreciated as it adds a bit of true sunshine to his Cali-identity.
None of this talk matches up to his elusive album cover art — an empty royal blue chair fit for a king with a black splotch of paint brushed behind it, both popping against the white backdrop. Has the Doggfather of hip hop gone artsy?
His music isn’t quite as mysterious. One of his singles, “Boom,” which features T-Pain, is forgettable beer-pong background soundtrack. Though it’s catchier than the majority of the album, it lacks originality from Snoop or his producer for this track, Scott Storch. “Boom” falls from respect directly into mediocrity (retirement anybody?) along with “I Don’t Need No Bitch,” “Wonder What It Do” and “It’s D Only Thang.”
Other disappointing collaborations are “The Weed Iz Mine,” featuring Wiz Khalifa and “Sumthing Like This Night,” featuring Gorillaz.
A more agreeable track is “El Lay,” featuring Marty James, which breathes bare-minimum life into Snoop’s efforts. Relaxed beats and airy, marijuana-related vocalizations spawn mirages of summertime like bikinis, Kool-Aid and hot leather seats.
“Gangbang Rookie” features Pilot, and introduces a jazz vibe as the Dogg sets his documentation straight with zing — “I’m not down with the Republican Party or the Democratic Party / I represent the gangster party.”
Taking big steps away from anything gangster and heading towards the barnyard, Snoop features Willie Nelson and his harmonica on “Superman.” The addition of “Superman” on Doggumentary adds some dimension, which is canceled out by the Greek life-happy track, “Wet,” which is about exactly what you’d think. Snoop’s tenor clouds over the simple cadence, “Tell me baby are you wet (wet, wet, wet, wet, wet) / I’m gonna get you wet.”
“Eyez Closed” features Kanye West and John Legend, and isn’t as impressive as their names look on paper. But it feels the best of them all, and the chorus resonates deeply.
The lyrical harmonization of Legend and West layers electronic beats and electric guitar with a smooth caress. The chorus (“And I can see it with my eyes closed, now / Feeling like my life froze / I’m about to hit the ground”) is Snoop’s saving grace on this track.
It looks as if Snoop is spinning a Dogg-wheel that’s already broken.