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|Snoop Dogg: Malice N Wonderland|
|20-12-2009 10:44 | 0 comment(s)|
| Snoop Dogg's tenth studio album in sixteen years, Malice N Wonderland, is an even-keeled fourteen-track effort featuring production from Nottz, The Neptunes, The-Dream, Terrace Martin and Scoop DeVille. The old-school OG's are given a backseat this time around in favor of a more youthful bounce and commercial appeal, but that's not to say we're wasting our time here. Snoop may have shifted his narratives from clever street tales to a more club-friendly middleground, but he's still undeniably Snoop, and some things never change.
Half the album focuses on being the "Malice" through gritty, dark lyrics and content while the other half comprises the Wonderland element, showing Snoop's more lighthearted side. The bleak narratives of the past are replaced, in part, by pandering to the L.A. dance scene ("I Wanna Rock"), but that doesn't mean he's hung up his straps, stopped pushing his own flow. As evidenced on "2 Minute Warning," Mr Broadus is still putting new spins on his couplets and keeping his bag of tricks full of treats.
Soulja Boy and Lil Jon are dead-fad anchors, and they weigh down an otherwise impressive guest showing from the likes of Malice, Brandy and R.Kelly. Oficial first single, "Gangsta Luv" featuring The Dream with production help from Tricky, marks the very first cut released by EMI Music's newly re-launched Priority Records, where Snoop serves as Creative Chairman of the historic West Coast hip hop label. Having previously signed to Priority nearly a decade ago, the release symbolizes a homecoming for the rapper, who's seen his share of record label downsides (Suge Knight, anybody?). The song itself is Autotuned and intentionally cheesed out, while the video, directed by Paul Hunter, is an ultracolor fun-ride in the backseat of a Cadillac, riding through several comical scenes and scenarios.
"I Wanna Rock" samples Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock's school-dance hit "It Takes Two" and mutates it into a modern hip-hop anthem, while G-funk colors bleed into "Secrets" with a little help from Battlecat and rapper-singer Kokane, who twists the main lyrics from The Romantics' "Talking in Your Sleep" into a thinly veiled threat of gangsta retribution. R. Kelly makes an impressive turn on "Pimpin' Aint EZ," bringing a relieving counterbalance to the Dirty South pandering with Soulja Boy on "Pronto".
The quality moments outweigh the passable ones, but the distinctive West Coast sound that Snoop helped lead the charge on for so many years is noticeably absent. There's a void that older fans are going to feel with this album; after all, this is not the Snoop from The Chronic and Doggystyle that sounded hungry and dangerous. This Dogg is well-fed and content to appeal to an audience that has no use for gangsta theatrics - one under strobe lights with drinks in their hands.
Snoop's flexibility and resilience as an artist is on full display on Malice N Wonderland, proving yet again that his brand is a fit for any scene he sets his course on. After all, who else rolls with both Willie Nelson and Dr. Dre?
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