Review Summary: I prefer "then" to "now."
The demise of Death Row Records – one of the greatest rap empires of all time – synced up with not only the ending of west coast’s vicegrip on hip-hop, but the crumbling of many artists’ careers. Obviously, the main rappers were Dr. Dre, who didn’t put out an album until seven years after his first and quietly transitioned from the mic to the boards; Snoop Dogg, who moved to No Limit Records and is, well, what he is today; and Tupac died. And while they don’t come to mind instantly, Tha Dogg Pound belongs in that category. The duo composed of the two less successful cousins of Snoop Dogg, Daz Dillinger and Kurupt, are honored for their contributions on The Chronic
and for their multiplatinum debut album Dogg Food
. But, after we pass over those three items on their résumé, they are all too easily labeled as irrelevant. Surprisingly enough, the weak technicalities are actually overcome by the musical aspect provided by Kurupt and Daz Dillinger…that is, when the musical aspect is on point.
Other than the occasional nice line, Daz and Kurupt only succeed at creating lyrics that generate shameful head shakes and mocking chuckles (“I’m gangsta, like Eazy,” “It’s on like Donkey Kong.”) This is bad news, because Tha Dogg Pound doesn’t have the kind of offensive vulgarity N.W.A. had when they deliver their brand of L.A. hood nigga rap, which is a weaker, less effective adaption of its originating version. Rather than ruthlessly detailing their violent actions, Tha Kingpin and Dillinger commonly just make note of doing such, and move on to talk about money, liquor, weed, and sex.
But there’s no need to worry, as the musical aspect counters out the technicalities…sometimes. Daz’s deep voice and smooth delivery provides great contrast to Kurupt’s punchy, upper range voice and kick of a delivery. The beats on the album have the common theme of being hip-pop/g-funk hybrids. Half club synths and heavy bass, half whiny synths, deep bass, rattling percussion, and 70’s funk elements. But the best instrumentals on the album aren’t produced by Daz. It’s rather the converse, as the weaker ones are produced by Dillinger. The maracas, sludgy bass, twinkles, sudden strings, and uptempo flow of Deepeegee produced by Soopafly make for the best instrumental on the album. But the pop-ish, slow dance synths, claps, and screechy bleeps of Money Fold”N, which was one of the album’s lesser instrumentals, was produced by Dillinger. Daz gets pretty lazy and uncreative at the back end of the album, sampling Biggie and Pharrell for poor hooks for two songs (On & On, Cheat [respectively,]) and tends to favor the pop elements over the g-funk elements. Beats like Get My Drink On & My Smoke On with bass, slowly-elevataing, rapidly-descending synths, claps, and tons of percussion are more common than beats like Y’all Know What I’m Doin’ with buzzing horn synths, techno bloops, and symbals.
And thusly, seeing as the majority of the album was produced by Daz, this album is inconsistently shifting between being pretty good to below average. When Swizz Beats has one of the best beats on your album, you know your production aspect is somewhat flawed, as all his beats are just so predictable.
In short, this album is nothing to be excited about. It’s just evidence that many careers that thrived under the reign of Death Row Records were muffled after the company’s downfall. I resent Dre for postponing Detox so many times, I mock Snoop Dogg incessantly, I say ‘R.I.P. Tupac’ and I completely and totally ***ing ignore Tha Dogg Pound.