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Snoop Dogg: Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told


Snoop Dogg

Album: Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told
Label: No Limit

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For a brief period following the massive success of Dr. Dre's vastly influential The Chronic, but before the release of his comparatively underwhelming debut Doggystyle, Snoop Dogg was the biggest rap star in the world. With his undeniable charisma, formidable skills, and widespread appeal, Dogg seemed unstoppable. But in the four years since Doggystyle, pretty much everything that could go wrong for Snoop has gone wrong. Death Row labelmate Tupac Shakur was murdered. Label chieftain Suge Knight was sent to prison, Tha Doggfather flopped, and Dr. Dre departed Death Row to form his own record label. Four years later, Dogg, desperate to be rid of Death Row's roving black cloud, has hooked up with Master P's No Limit Records, apparently on the condition that he not be shot to death or regularly beaten by a group of large men. But while most of Dogg's contemporaries outside the No Limit sweatshop have either died or abandoned the gangsta aesthetic, Snoop Dogg's latest finds him once again embracing the nihilistic ethos of gangsta rap with disturbingly bloodthirsty enthusiasm. While recent articles have painted a picture of Dogg as a paranoid father and husband fearing for the lives of his family, Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told still finds him pushing the guns, gang, and weed rhetoric of gangsta's golden age. Spread over 21 tracks, Dogg's monomaniacal gangsta orthodoxy quickly grows tiresome. The production work by No Limit's much-maligned house producers, Beats By The Pound, isn't all that bad, though the team's trademark N.O. Bounce sounds a lot like watered-down, third-generation G-Funk. But while it would be tempting to write off Dogg as an atrophied, out-of-touch gangsta revivalist, there are moments in Da Game when it appears there's still some transgressive power left in his music. With the right producers and an appropriate level of quality control, it's possible that Dogg will yet fulfill the boundless promise he displayed on The Chronic and Doggystyle. This doesn't.