It's many a year since the pigtailed rapper spat an inspired or original line, but he does at least recognise what some more articulate verbalists fail to grasp, which is that character and delivery counts as much as meaning – and few of his peers have as instantly recognisable a style as Snoop's laidback, lascivious drawl.
And even by the industriously collaborative standards of hip-hop, none has quite as bulging a contacts book. All but three of these 21 tracks features at least one guest artist, from Bootsy Collins's blithely sardonic announcement that "We're just having fun, and nobody gets shot" on the opening "Toyz N Da Hood" to LaToiya Williams's standard R&B emoting on the concluding "Cold Game". In between, Snoop's people have rounded up the likes of Kanye, Kokane, T-Pain, Too Short and several less stellar rappers, along with John Legend, R Kelly and Gorillaz, returning a favour for Snoop's Plastic Beach contribution.
It's an implicit acknowledgement both of hip-hop's move from album to individual track format, and of the fact that the genre's big successes are usually collaborations; but while a dozen singles will probably be lifted from Doggumentary, as an album experience it's an utter dogg's breakfast – as might be expected from a project that credits no fewer than 20 different producers and 35 engineers.
Accordingly, it's a hit and miss affair, most successful when his collaborators put Snoop on his mettle, as with Young Jeezy's bullish asperity on "My Fucn House", and Kanye's typically grandiose "Eyez Closed". But, elsewhere, things get too perfunctory: the standard sales boasts of "Platinum" ("you fail, we sell") are a waste of R Kelly's smoochsome talents, while Gorillaz' "Sumthin Like This Night" elicits a comparably nursery-rhyme contribution from Snoop, in clumsy white-man-rapping manner. The most absurd collaboration, however, is the ridiculous impromptu duet with Willie Nelson on "Superman", their only conceivable connection being a shared interest in Jamaican agribusiness. The most successful collaboration, though, is likely to be the crossover hip-house of "Wet", in which Snoop's autotuned vocal is measured to fit the electro-house stomp of David Guetta – it's brutally catchy, and has the added cachet of being recorded specially for Prince William's bachelor party, a connection which speaks volumes about celebrity culture, from both ends.
As regards content, Doggumentary is the now-familiar mix of childhood reminiscences, gangsta posturing, hedonist celebration and ganja anthems, albeit with the unexpected addition of the surprisingly solicitous "Peer Pressure", in which an apparently straight-faced Snoop Dogg advises girls not to take drugs or behave like a ho. But then, who would adorn his hot tub?
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