With his new album, Snoop Dogg returns from a two album detour into the
realms of reggae and funk, which were overseen by alter egos Snoop Lion and Snoopzilla respectively. And this lengthy experimental trip has clearly done him good, as Bush, his thirteenth album, is easily his most confident, enjoyable work since at least 2006’s Tha Blue Carpet Treatment.
The album finds Snoop reunited with frequent collaborator Pharrell, who executive produces every song here. Surprisingly, for two artists whose public images, and debatably work, have of late veered dangerously close to becoming pop cultural punch lines, the natural fit and easy chemistry between the pair makes for a surprisingly fulfilling team up.
It’s very much a collaborative record, with Pharrell’s instantly recognisable spare beats bringing out the best in Snoop’s laid back Cali drawl, and the two have great fun bringing some funk to the album’s laid back, loosely structured tracks.
Running at just ten songs, the album is slight, which is just as well, since the record has little on its mind other than a good time. Lyrically a meditation on girls, drinks and easy living, Bush knows the best things in life are passing pleasures. Current single and album opener ‘California Roll’ draws us immediately into the album’s zen outlook, establishing the blueprint for the album’s chilled, funky production, with an assist from Stevie Wonder.
Bush is full of great collaborations, particularly from Pharrell’s stable (or should that be kennel!?) of regulars. ‘Edibles’, with its T.I. guest appear- ance, finds both rappers either loved-up or with the munchies, depending how you want to read it. Elsewhere Gwen Stefani, firmly in deadpan mode, is utilised to far more interesting effect than on recent Pharrell re-team and comeback attempt, ‘Spark the Fire’. She and Snoop trade silly come-ons in the undeniable chorus, her voice recalling the female background singer that dips in and out of the record, allowing Snoop’s eye for the ladies, like the record’s sound, never quite to spill over into uncomfortably sleazy territory.
Other highlights include the playful ‘So Many Pros’, ‘Peaches N Cream’ and ‘I Knew That’, all chock full of Snoopisms, ad libs and good, summery vibes. Only ‘This City’ really changes up the formula much, with its slightly heftier production and meditation on ambition providing a nice counterbalance.
The album’s uniform production, loose hooks, and relatively interchangeable concerns make for a coherent listen, crafting a breezy forty or so minutes with Snoop and pals. If album closer ‘I’m Ya Dogg’ tells us anything, with his easy-going flow holding its own against the more aggressive presence of Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar, it’s that Snoop knows exactly what he’s best at. With Bush, Snoop is back, and he’s still our Dogg.