Review Summary: He may have been reincarnated, but he is yet to be enlightened.
The dog has died and has been reborn a lion. Snoop Dogg, a name synonymous with gangsta rap, hos, bitches, guns, hos, joints, blunts, hos and referring to oneself in third person has been reincarnated, without actually dying, and has transformed into the majestic lion. A symbol of his newly discovered Jamaican roots. Or something like that. Snoop 'Lion' took a vacation in the Caribbean island and whilst over there and presumably whilst higher than the peak of Blue Mountain had an epiphany. He was living a life of sin. To repent for his evil ways he had to change his ways. And with great change comes great responsibility, he is now responsible for getting on his soapbox and preaching to any that will listen the evils of pollution, crime, guns, hos and hate.
Now taking this album for what it is, carrying the most ridiculous concept of all time, it was never going to down as an instant classic. But if you take it for what it is; a delusional, hypocritical yet somewhat charming train wreck, it's only 80% as bad as it should be. You can use that as an album blurb RCA Records!
As usual Snoop blends his always smooth and laid back dulcet tones with a penchant for catchy hooks. Snoop sounds in his zone, and sounds like he firmly believes in his new direction as he spreads the feel good message of Jah and one love and all those other Rastafarian clichés...for a couple tracks anyway.
After that, the album becomes less about reincarnating the tired and often uninspired genre of reggae and more a free for all of sorts. During his rebirth Snoop must have neglected to acknowledge that reggae by all accounts is rather dull and boring. Its simplicity means that all that could have been said and done, already has been said and done. This leads to the deployment of bewildering house and trance pumping over the top of the attempted roots revival. The album seems confused as to whether it wants to be in Jamaica or Ayia Napa by the fifth track as the panic button has well and truly been beaten relentlessly and the bobsleigh has completely fallen off the track.
Add the constant diversions in place in the form of electronica with the horribly nauseating female looped choruses and the album's already become less about reggae and more an exercise in trying to unsuccessfully cash in on what's popular in the pop music scene at the moment without hitting the nail on the head. The female voices are far too high pitched and irritating, and don't feel at all at place next to Snoop's trademark chilled vocal stylings. However, that being said the art of drilling the same vocal patterns and drum and bass sequences into the listeners brain at an almost irresistible pace leads to the creation of some shamefully catchy songs. If you manage to look past the brain cell killing lyrics, most songs have redeeming qualities in their infectiously stupid hooks and rhythm. As many times as my face found itself in my palm, I found my feet tapping subconsciously away. Yeah, it's dumb. But at least it retains an element of fun.
If only it had chosen to stick to one mood throughout, we'd have definitely been treated to a more cohesive, consistent album. Instead this album switches emotions more times than a Black Veiled Brides fangirl. One moment the album's going with a reminiscent, sit back and light one up feel, the next Snoop's making a desperate plea to save mankind and a minute later he's absolutely ecstatic without a care in the world. Perhaps the marijuana consumption has effected his mood greatly and each track represents a stage in the cycle of getting high and coming down but I doubt anyone involved in this project has the intelligence to come up with an underlying meaning like that. The album suffers from just being too over the place as Snoop tries to take on a task he is not capable of fulfilling and that's encompassing a bit of everything into one project. This explains the bi-polar syndrome in place and the addition of various electronic music styles which do just feel randomly tossed in there to appeal to a larger market.
However, as I've touched on this album has an undeniable innocent charm. It carries itself with enough carefree character and personality that it's impossible to truly hate. Tracks such as 'The Good Good' show flashes of something (greatness is too strong a word, but you get the gist) and had Snoop opted to stick with the sunny day, no problem mentality that track promotes he could have had a happy-go-lucky album that is no technical masterpiece but does enough to leave the audience with a smile on their face. The album still retains that aspect but incorporates other not so positive elements.
These include Snoop acting like a complete douchebag. Who'd have thought a weed smoker would become so eager to talk about the fact that they do indeed partake in smoking it. Don't worry Snoop lets you know many many times that he is partial to the occasional bong.
If anyone was wondering if the drug carries any symptoms, becoming completely hypocritical and possessing an overbearing self righteousness should deter those thinking of giving it a go. The last person I want to hear lecturing me on gun control is Snoop Dogg, who has several criminal convictions for firearm possession and one for involuntary manslaughter. 'No Guns Allowed' smacks of hypocrisy and I have a hard time believing anyone will seriously heed Snoop's words. Snoop also goes all Al Gore on us, telling us how we should all protect 'Mother Earth' although Snoop himself owns several SUV's. He also tells us of the evils of money and material wealth. No, seriously. There is also a track or two where Snoop goes all sentimental on us as he addresses his dead homies. Talk about contrived.
Added to Snoop's complete negligence for taking his own life into account when telling you to live yours, he brings others down to his level. The usually on-point Drake drops his most insincere verse to date and sounds genuinely uncomfortable doing so, as he adds to the anti weapons propaganda. But hey, at least Drake's relevant. Snoop must have blown the majority of his budget using archived 90's eurotrash beats as the quality of guest artists is questionable. Akon hasn't had a hit in God knows how long. Miley Cyrus has moved from making Z-List music to Z-List movies. And Rita Ora?! What even is that?
It's also somewhat uneasy listening to Snoop throwing his individuality out of the window in an ill-advised attempt to sound like every carbon copy 'born and raised in Kingston' modern reggae artist out there. His attempts at incorporating patois just feel far too forced. And unnecessary.
But whilst weighing up the negatives, one must ask; was it ever expected to be better? Admit it, we all laughed when we heard that Snoop had seen the light. We laughed when we heard the singles from the album. There's no need to get all serious now. And this album sure as hell can't be taken seriously. But for what it is, it still retains a novelty value with some genuinely contagious songs and the odd glimmer of potential. Reggae has never set the world ablaze so in a genre devoid of innovation and diversification, this is probably a good record. Take that as you will. To summarise this album in one sentence; it's as I said earlier: It's only 80% as bad as it should be.