Album: 213

The Hard Way, TVT
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The Independent Culture

213 is the area code for Los Angeles, including the Long Beach neighbourhood in which Snoop Dogg, his cousin Nate and their mate Warren G grew up and took their early hip-hop lumps. The trio took it as their group name when they started out, but soon developed their own individual careers once Warren's cousin Dr Dre got involved. Between them they perfected the G-Funk style that changed the face of rap. A year or two ago, the three decided to reconvene, and the result is The Hard Way, sort of a last hurrah for the G-Funk era. Here again is that once-winning blend of good music and bad attitude, its rolling funk grooves built on 1970s jazz-funk samples from the likes of Mtume, Herbie Hancock and Steely Dan, and its world-view drawn from a poorly-digested diet of porn and gangster movies. It's okay for a while - Nate's mellifluous vocal hooks can smooth the passage of even the weakest raps, and on his day Snoop can deliver a line with as much panache as anyone in hip hop - but it soon palls. So while it's enjoyable enough to find Snoop down at the club, scoping out the ladies over a nice kalimba groove before getting back to the hot tub, the constant lapses into sexism and bogus criminality ultimately sabotage the album as a whole.

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