Reviewed by Daniel Serotsky
So now Snoop Lion has shed the mane, metamorphosed back to a canid again; we have a new record with which to get busy, ten new tracks from the D.O. double Gizzy. The first the two lines of this review, whilst informative indeed, also exemplify my skills as a rap lyricist. Now, if there was one snag to my chances of making it on the rap scene, it’s that I can’t ‘spit’. Snoop Dogg’s flow prowess is well documented and he’s welcome to those two lines, gratis, on the strict proviso that he raps them.
Bush is a frustrating album from the man who has put out solid work from the inaugural Doggystyle to one of my favourite tracks ever: his mighty duet with Dre on Still DRE, all the way to his sterling voiceover work for MoneySupermarket.com. Pharrell Williams brings his vintage disco LPs to the party and that’s all very nice, we’re all feeling good because Snoop will show up soon and when those two guys get together it’s revelry incarnate ( remember Drop it Like It’s Hot? Aah, good times!) Sadly, Snoop’s off the gin and juice; he’s brought a six-pack of J2O instead. Dropping the party metaphor and giving it straight: Snoop Dogg delivers us a cheap, puzzizzling RnB record.
It’s not that Bush is an awful album, it isn’t. An easy listen indeed, funky rhythms and some catchy hooks present themselves well on the opener, California Roll and tasteful cameo vocals permeate the album. The problem is that it’s just not Snoop. Sure, the lyrics are playful as ever, covering many of the classic themes such as enjoying a smoke and courtship but the most lyrically inspired it gets is Snoop describing himself as a squirrel after a nut (see R U A Freak). RnB might be the Dogg’s new favoured style and I have no problems with people pursuing the pulmonary path but just as young lads are wont to wear the blighted ‘mun’, it doesn’t mean they wouldn’t look better with a classic short back and sides.
The problem isn’t with RnB itself, it’s mostly that it seems an ill fit for a rap extraordinaire and there are issues with the width of Snoop’s vocal range. I suppose he gets the job done, but lack of inspiration and narrow range presents like a canal boat struggling on the Ganges or trying to ram a spoon through steak because the knives are on the other side of the kitchen. Perhaps the Pharrelling is overzealously carved in; Snoop seems locked into the pastels of burbling semi-sung verses, relying on splashes of colour from featured artists to rather than using his own unique vibrancy. Sure enough, Pharrell gets to whine the hook on a couple of tracks too: California Roll and So Many Pros (they also happen to be two of the singles).
It’s something of a hallmark these days, the Pharrell brand means you’ll get a well serviced product but it must come with the Pharrell© watermark, a la Ed Sheeran, Robin Thicke and Daft Punk. Certainly in my mind, Pharrell’s cheery digits left their finger-prints all over the album and this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does feel a little cheap. Cheap is also fine with me and perhaps it’s comforting to have a record industry equivalent to Nando’s. Snoop would however benefit from swapping Pharrell brand perfunctory pop piri-piri for his cherished, more inimitable brand of hip-hop hot sauce.
We get just one real glimpse of a hip hop track in the shape of Bush’s first single: Peaches and Cream. One of just a few tracks that I was drawn into repeating, Peaches and Cream reminded me of how much fun Snoop Dogg and Pharrell can be. It’s no Beautiful or Drop It Like It’s Hot but it is the standout offering in this otherwise forgettable album.
Recommended song: Peaches and Cream