Teaching an Old Dog New Tricks
Few rappers can match the storied career of Snoop Dogg. Over the span of 20 years, he’s pioneered West Coast funk rap alongside Dr. Dre, accumulated eight platinum records and still had some spare time to transform into a reggae artist under the moniker Snoop Lion. While Snoop has a place in the history books thanks to iconic singles like “Gin & Juice” and “Still a G Thang,” few hip-hop songs are as universally loved as “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” The addictive single proves that magic can be made when combining the pop jam sensibilities of Pharrell Williams with the laid-back styles of Snoop.
Bush creates an album out of that logic. The album, entirely produced by Pharrell, is a return to form for Snoop Dogg, who’s last album was the reggae project, Reincarnated. For the most part, it seems Snoop hasn’t lost a beat. “She too fly for words / And where I’m at now I’m too high for birds” accurately captures the spirit. Simple but delightful rhymes suit both Snoop and Pharrell’s style of easy-going, relaxed beats. Snoop’s goal isn’t to create dense wordplay, just an easy-to-digest jam that goes well at a smoke session–BBQ or weed.
Snoop Dogg remains fresh after all these years because he understands what he’s skilled at, but is willing to share the spotlight to create better music. Pharrell’s fingerprint is all over Bush, making this release feel more like GIRLPart 2 than a Snoop album. The Cali rapper also brings an array of features to Bush: Stevie Wonder’s harmonica on “California Roll,” old-school vibes with Gwen Stefani on “Run Away” and current superstar Kendrick Lamar too. Thankfully, Snoop has a distinguished voice that can weave between features and fit into practically any production.
Snoop Dogg is not breaking any new ground with Bush, nor does it seem like that’s his priority. His legacy is secure and he’s already tried new things with Incarcerated. Instead, Bush is a celebratory album, almost a self-congratulatory victory lap for the veteran. It mixes the new with the old to prove an old rapper can still make new sounds. It’s self-indulgent and laid-back, but after 12 albums, it’s about time Snoop celebrated with his listeners.