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Snoop Dogg Presents Tha Eastsidaz: Duces N Trayz-The Old Fashioned Way

Album: Duces N Trayz-The Old Fashioned Way
Label: TVT

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Back when Snoop Dogg was wasting away as just another foot soldier in Master P's army, few could have guessed that a whiny, blond-haired white kid from Detroit would be largely responsible for West Coast gangsta rap's commercial resurgence. But Dr. Dre's shrewd teaming with Motor City misanthrope Eminem paved the way for Dre's 2001, and ever since, West Coast stalwarts like Xzibit, Kurupt, Nate Dogg, and Snoop Dogg have reaped the rewards of G-funk's renewed credibility. The second album from Snoop Dogg's side project Tha Eastsidaz, Duces N Trayz finds the Doggfather taking a back seat to Tray Deee and Goldie Loc on 20 tracks of wildly uneven Crip-hop, rooted in familiar slow-rolling grooves, thugged-out rhymes, and the smooth harmonizing of gangsta crooner Kokane. Though Dr. Dre is missing, his presence can be felt in the work of second-generation G-funk producers Meech Wells, Battlecat, Fred Wreck, and Ric Roc. Like a lot of contemporary West Coast gangsta albums, Duces N Trayz is only as good as its beats, but its production quality varies as wildly as its inflated roster of guests. Duces often feels like a compilation album, especially given the presence of producers as dissimilar as Swizz Beats, The Alchemist, and Hi-Tek. As song titles like "Gang Bang 4 Real," "Crip Hop," and "Break A Bitch Til I Die" suggest, Duces N Trayz' lyrical content is about as original and unexpected as the homage to The Warriors that opens it. But some institutions are sacred even to the clique of the world's most lovable Crip. Accordingly, "There Comes A Time" pays tribute to Tha Eastsidaz' beloved mothers, while "Sticky Fingaz" offers hip-hop's umpteenth love letter to Tommy Chong's herb of choice. For the most part, Duces N Trayz aspires to nothing more than a carefree gangsta party, and at its best ("Gang Bang 4 Real," "Cool"), it succeeds. Still, with a running time of just under 80 ridiculously padded minutes, Duces N Trayz offers further proof that in the bloated, quantity-above-quality world of gangsta rap, more is generally less.