Sunday, December 14, 2008

Snoop Dogg -- Ego Trippin

Rating: 4/5 stars

Pros: Snoop and production team dabble successfully in wide range of genres.

Cons: Bloated tracklist could be shortened significantly.

Bottom Line: Snoop displays star-power and charisma that made him a star.

Recommended Tracks:

Sensual Seduction

Can't Say Goodbye

In the opening scene of the "Sensual Seduction" video, Snoop wails on talk box under flashing disco lights while shimmying in flamboyant 70's-era outfit. It's a classic Snoop moment -- ridiculous yet still captivating. He called it a mix of Prince, Roger Troutman, Rick James and Michael Jackson. Add some rapping and you have a good description of his new album Ego Trippin.

And while his trademark laid-back rapping is still sharp, Snoop is more entertainer than rapper these days. Freely admitting to no longer writing his own lyrics, he's a rapper whose transcended rap. Ego Trippin is a fearless album that finds Snoop signing over a remake of the 80's hit "Cool" and dedicating "My Medicine", a country song about a dope fiend, to his "main man Johnny Cash".

He has reason to celebrate, as he explains on the darkly nostalgic "Never Have to Worry": "15 years in the game and I'm still relevant, it's a blessing." There's been enough drama for 5 careers -- from debuting on Death Row, the 'most dangerous label in rap' through a widely publicized murder trial, a stint with Master P and a long-running feud with Suge Knight.

His care-free attitude extends to the genre-bending production, masterminded by 80's maestro Teddy Riley. It blurs the line between rap, soul, g-funk and 80's pop, while still leaving room for gems like the Irish-melody "Why Did You Leave Me" and the gospel-tinged "Can't Say Goodbye".

At over 80 minutes long with 20 skit-free songs, Ego Trippin could have tightened significantly. It's a credit to Snoop's mic presence and the album's cohesiveness that you don't really mind.

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