Snoop Dogg has been puttin’ it down for a minute, to say the least. From when he first took the world by storm with his appearance on the 1992 hit song “Deep Cover,” the artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg hasn’t ceased to captivate audiences of all ages. Now being a family man who is very established, it is only fitting that his music reflects this transformation one way or another. This is modestly achieved on the uneven, but highly creative, Ego Trippin’.
On this album, Snoop truly pushes not only his own artistic abilities, but the actual boundaries of hip hop itself. With tracks emphasizing voice variations and diverse delivery, Snoop shows why he has been able to stay relevant throughout the years. A prime example is the Shawty Redd produced lead single “Sexual Eruption.” Snoop devotes this track to explaining how he is going to seduce his female counterpart all the while raising her to a level of ecstasy, “I’m gonna take my time/She going to get hers before I/I’m going to take it slow/I’m not going to rush the stroke…” This song is out of Snoop’s element, but it is refreshing to see that he is willing to take risks musically. Many artists in his position would just enjoy the success and fame that they have accumulated and try not to rock the boat. Another attempt at nuance, maybe not the best one, is the Everlast AKA Whitey Ford produced “My Medicine.” Snoop takes the time to give the late Johnny Cash a shout out on a track devoted to your “poison” of choice while he elaborates on some his own. This track doesn’t seem to work, in the fact that it is too much of a shot at trying something different. However, it is still good to see that he is willing to do something outside of the box.
The production on this album is top notch and custom fit for Snoop. Sans Dr. Dre, there are a wide range of producers making a contribution. It turns out that Snoop and Teddy Reilly make a good team with a couple of tracks that are tailored for Snoop’s style like the Time sampled “Cool,” the hypnotic ode to chiefin’ “Let It Out,” and the heavy based “SD is Out.” DJ Quik also makes a strong appearance with the Isley Brothers sampled “Press Play.” As Snoop takes you on a voyage through his own Atlantis via his persona, fellow Dogg Pound member Kurupt validates the West Coast King’s legacy, proving that the top dog still got it.
Ego Trippin’ is impressive, but it definitely has its shortcomings. For one, it is entirely too long with 21 songs. Even though it consists of mostly full length tracks, there is no reason to have this many songs on one LP, especially in this day and age. In addition, the Don of the West Coast makes the repeated mistake of trying to revert back to the G that he was. Most notably, his second single release “Gangsta Like Me” is truly a reach that is backed up by poor lyrics and even poorer delivery, uncharacteristic of Snoop. Another area of concern is when Snoop goes out of his way for bi-coastal/subgenre support. On “Staxx in My Jeans,” the Doggfather tries to gain southern support through subject matter and his rhyming style. The hyphy inspired “Life of the Party” featuring Too Short and Mistah F.A.B. just doesn’t fit, while the Polow da Don and Hitboy produced “Why Did You Leave Me” is a total contradiction to what Snoop is, or portrays to be, as he cries over lost love.
Snoop has come a long way since his days on Death Row. Ego Trippin’ proves this as Snoop embarks on a journey to make music that is suitable for him. And by not being afraid to try different things, one could only learn more about themselves. But one cannot be afraid to embrace it and Snoop shows that he still has trouble coming to grips with life outside of his early days as he constantly tries to relive it. If he truly wants to make groundbreaking music then he should and if he wants to stay stagnated on the same lifestyle that he used to lead, no one can blame him as it was pretty successful. Either way, it would not hurt his legacy, but with some focus, he could take it to a level only one could imagine. – Ryan Harrison
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