Snoop Dogg - Malice N' Wonderland
Once one of rap's most irreverent characters, Snoop Dogg has cruised the past decade with minimal fuss or invention, although by all accounts the 38-year-old has become something of a family man these days. Does that mean that the Californian has toned down his guns 'n' hos/gin 'n' juice stance when it comes to his music? Well, yes. Cordazar Broadus' tenth studio album may not be as bombastic as his early material, but it's a record with clean lines and its nose pointed at mainstream success - something he's tasted in recent years with big hits like 'Drop It Like It's Hot' and 'Signs'.
As is the fashion with most rap albums, Malice is brimming with supposedly top-end guests: the ubiquitous R. Kelly crops up, as does the huge-in-America Soulja Boy Tell 'Em and even BLACKstreet's Teddy Riley, Dr. Dre and The Neptunes take the production reins on a track apiece. Does that mean that Snoop's stylings are smothered by his collaborators? On occasion, that seems the case; yet he seems happy for Brandy and The Neptunes to take control on 'Special', or Timbaland and Danja's production to overwhelm 'That's Tha Homie'.
Yet the album starts out with his nonchalant delivery stamped all over it. 'I Wanna Rock' and '2 Minute Warning' are minimalist without being boring, unburdened by synths or bravado while maintaining a degree of street coolness. The brighter, poppier songs with smooth soul singers also work well - 'Different Languages' and 'Secrets' are both standout tracks.
These days, though, it seems that our suspicions have been confirmed: Snoop is mostly interested in writing about his wife ("Jay got Beyonce, I got Shante") and kids (as heard on 'Intro' and 'Outro'). It's no bad thing at all - at least he's not inventing nonsensical chest-beating tosh like many of his contemporaries. It does mean, however, that his most ardent fans may be disappointed by his softer side. They shouldn't be, though - this is a completely likable effort.
Review by Lauren Murphy | 09:00 | Friday 4th December 2009 | Album Review
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