I have one quick question for all you hardcore hip-hop aficionados out there: How the hell do you take a rapper whose stage name is a derivative of a children’s comic character seriously" The rapper would be Snoop Doggy Dogg (known simply as Snoop Dogg since his conversion from Death Row Records to No Limit Records). The character would be Snoopy: the loveable beagle from Charles’ Schulz’s classic comic strip “Peanuts.” Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr. was given the name “Snoopy” by his mother during childhood, due to the look of his eyes. Now, rappers generally like to cast an illusion of power, dominance, and control. Somehow, a rapper loosely named after a dog who spent his days talking to a yellow bird named Woodstock, doesn’t seem to fit in with that premise. Ah, I suppose I can drop that issue for the time being.
Snoop Dogg started his career with an already well-established fan base. This was due to his extensive (and impressive) work on Dr. Dre
’s milestone album The Chronic
. Due to his contributions to that record, Snoop was viewed as being the most notable protégé to have come under Dre’s tutelage. Snoop Dogg released his debut album Doggystyle
on the twenty-third of November, 1993. The album was (unsurprisingly) produced by Dr. Dre, and thus, was released on Death Row Records. Sine its original release Doggystyle
has sold 5.9 million copies in the United States, certifying near six-times platinum status. Doggystyle
held the top spot on the Billboard 200 for three weeks after release, spawned several hit-singles (including “Gin & Juice” which was nominated for a Grammy award in 1995), and is considered by many critics and insiders of the hip-hop industry to be an iconic masterpiece in the annals of rap’s history.
features Snoop Dogg’s trademark “lazy drawl” diction of rapping. This essentially means that Snoop’s lyrical delivery is extremely calm, laidback, and rhythmically complex, yet can be distinctively slurred at times. To be quite honest, I’ve never totally been a fan of Snoop’s style of rapping. I realize that one of hip-hop’s most vexing strong points is lyric composition. Therefore, it’s rather enjoyable when you can actually understand a talented lyricist’s brilliant wordplay. While Snoop’s “lazy drawl” allows his vocals to be perfectly audible, it just seems to have a sloppy effect on the album. In addition to this, Snoop really isn’t a talented songwriter. His songs are rather inane, and lack the natural “flow” that hip-hop should have. However, one area Doggystyle
doesn’t come up scarce in is pure, unadulterated attitude. Snoop’s debut oozes a glamorous sense of entitlement and degradation, making it one of the original “glam-rap” albums. Things hip-hop related started to get more ambitious after Doggystyle
Aside from the occasionally substandard rapping, Doggystyle
is sorely lacking in the musical department. The beats throughout the album are overly repetitive, boring, and ultimately irritating. Instruments and sound samples seem to clash with each other at times, which severely detracts from the immersion experience. Once again, everything just seems to be rather sloppy. However, there’s a very serious upside as well: not all of the songs are sonically terrible. In fact, some, such as “Serial Killer” and “Gz and Hustlas” for example, are really quite catchy. They melodies seem to mesh with the vocals with near-perfect synergy. On the whole, Doggystyle
seems to constantly contradict itself in terms of lyrical, musical, and overall song-construction. The result is a moderately enjoyable listen, which seems to exude an air of frustrating potential.
I’ll be the first to point out that praise of Doggystyle
is usually not misplaced. The album definitely contains all of the ingredients for hip-hop superstardom. This is particularly evident on tracks such as the aforementioned “Gz and Hustlas” and “Serial Killer,” but is also fairly prominent on songs such as “Doggy Dogg World” and “What’s My Name (Who Am I).” These four songs are by far and away the best tracks that Doggystyle
has to offer. From the above-average (for Snoop at least) wordplay, to the more engrossing music, to their feeling of sheer power, they are essential hip-hop masterpieces, that are marvelous in almost every respect possible. Conversely, some of the more irksome offerings, such as “Murder Was The Case,” “Gin & Juice,” and “Pump, Pump” are just rather exasperating. Songs like these suffer most from the substandard music and samplings; however, the oftentimes mediocre lyrics don’t help much either. I’ll be honest, with you, dear reader: many songs on Doggystyle
aren’t inherently bad, they’re just too damn annoying to be an enjoyable listening experience.
There is perhaps no better example of Snoop Dogg’s go for the gusto mindset than the skits contained on Doggstyle
. Of course, these are generally just filler, but they can be some of the most entertaining bits on the album. The highlight of the skits and interludes would have to be the very first one on the album, “Bathtub.” As an extremely lewd, sexually explicit, and (eventually) debauchery-laden little tale, “Bathtub” is the spoken-word equivalent of Snoop’s ego and fantastically belittling (towards women at least) mannerisms. If you want to see the pinnacle of rap’s braggadocio ambitions, then you will be well-served by giving “Bathtub” a quick listen.
Now, I know that many of you hip-hop aficionados tend to hold albums that are either breakthroughs/genre-defining moments in higher regard than others. I don’t blame you: every surface of music’s vast spectrum has its own heroes. I’ll readily admit that Doggystyle
was definitely a shining moment for Snoop, and hip-hop itself. Still, it’s a good album, whose positives and negatives come to near-balance with each other. It’s far from perfect, but isn’t anywhere close to terrible either. It is what it is. And it is Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle
. Now then, have you come up with an answer for my introductory question" Well, if you haven’t, then I suppose I have a little bit of ammunition to use against “S-N-Double-O-G” in case I want to bring him down a few notches.