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Snoop Dogg: The Blue Carpet Treatment

B+

Snoop Dogg

Album: The Blue Carpet Treatment
Label: Geffen

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Snoop Dogg, a pop star with a cartoon dog's name, a teenage girl's velvety high voice, and a gangsta's unwholesome preoccupations (and arrest record), won the hearts of record buyers with his stellar contributions to Dr. Dre's The Chronic and his own Doggystyle. But his increasingly irrelevant subsequent albums did little to disprove the idea that constant marijuana use destroys ambition and focus. Snoop has always been able to knock out infectious radio singles, but his albums generally strand a few knockout songs amid oceans of lazy filler, opportunist trend-hopping, and derivative, second-rate G-funk. Sleepy, anticlimactic recent reunion albums from Dogg Pound and 213 (Snoop, Warren G, and Nate Dogg) failed to rouse Snoop out of his longstanding professional funk.

So why does Snoop's shockingly good The Blue Carpet Treatment sound more like a loose, revitalized follow-up to Doggystyle? Dr. Dre's reappearance certainly doesn't hurt. Dre has always brought out the best in Snoop, and his presence seems to have reignited Snoop's passion and hunger. No track better exemplifies the disc's ethos of delirious excess than "Candy (Drippin' Like Water)", an insanely catchy candy-coated R&B song with clever nods to hyphy (E-40 and producer Rick Rock) and retro jazz-rap (check out that crazy Digable Planets sample!), plus guest raps from a small army of past-their-prime gangstas.

When faced with a choice, Snoop here inevitably chooses all of the above. So Treatment gives listeners Dr. Dre and The Neptunes, The Game and Ice Cube, red-hot polygamy enthusiast Akon and old standby Nate Dogg, George Clinton and Stevie Wonder, gangsta shit, pimp shit, and at least one song encouraging pee-wee football players to go hard or go home. With his lush Blue Carpet Treatment, Snoop Dogg finally seems intent on building and expanding his musical legacy, rather than merely coasting on it.