Tha Dogg Pound
This is not Dogg Food, but DPG is one of the few '95ers not trying to make a sequel - just pay homage.
Even the mere mention of The Chronic by Dr. Dre brings up a nostalgic feeling. The group that was born out of the famed 1992 release, Tha Dogg Pound, opted to revive the cast - without the reclusive host of course, for their first official album in three years. With Kurupt's lyrical revival on this year's Streetlights and Daz Dillinger's always outspoken bars, 100 Wayz is easily DPG's most anticipated project in close to a decade. 100 Wayz doesn’t disappoint, Kurupt shows why he was once on everyone’s Top 10, and the Daz keeps it funky behind the boards with the help from longtime partner Soopafly. They may not have started this gangsta shit, but they kept it rolling into the '90s and early '00s and 100 Wayz is a reminder that they still do.
People tend to forget Daz Dillinger's production repertoire. Credited with some of 2Pac’s best work, and helping create Death Row's biggest hits alongside Dr. Dre, he kept a generation vibing. From the jump on 100 Wayz, Daz tries to put himself back in the conversation of the great producers. It is hit or miss, but without a question the work he puts in behind the boards is his best in years. “All You” hears Kurupt slaying the track. The lyricist and his flow are top notch. This is one of the Philly/South Central emcee's best appearances since The Streetz Iz A Mutha. Like any great duo, Daz as always complements Kurupt perfectly behind the mic. He never has a shining moment, but that has never been his forte. Instead, Daz' often melodic chant verses are consistent, never wavering.
"Dogg Pound Gangstaz" is classic DPG material. Tha Dogg Pound is really able to capture their mid-'90s magic. Production-wise, this creation carries the nod-factor. The work doesn’t overwhelm at first, but three minutes in, the groove has set in. “Skyz Tha Limit” is the best single released from the duo in more than a decade. Soopafly is still a genius behind the boards, with a beat that builds. The production brings the best out of Kurupt. He is still a once and a lifetime lyricist and "Skyz Tha Limit" sees him as focused as ever.
“Cheat’n Ass Lover” is Chronic-inspired content. This is G-Funk 20 years later, and it doesn't sound dated. It features a rare Nate Dogg appearance, and he does what the 213 members always does best: make the track a song with a stellar hook. “I Fears No One” refreshes a "Lyrical Gangbang" verse and sounds like R.A.W.-era Daz. The back-and-forth between Daz and Kurupt is classic and it’s four-and-a-half minutes of audio bliss. When the duo make this type of music its not hard to remember why they can be so revered. The bar for the duo is high and when they reach it, they seldom disappointment.
“I Don’t Care” sees a classic MC Shan lyric sampled and a guest appearance by the wickedest female emcee to ever touch the microphone in Lady of Rage. The production is questionable, but Rage’s verse alone makes every other element of the track forgettable. “Fly Azz Fucc” sees Rage and Snoop Dogg make appearances over old school production. Daz sets the tone with an impressive first verse and its followed by a solid Snoop guest spot. “Spread the Love” is G-Funk through and through and is a highlight of 100 Wayz. “Otha Side of Town” is top notch and Kurupt demonstrates his lyrical weaponry on a phenomenal first verse. His ability to use alliteration while maintaing his word play and multi-syllable rhyme patterns is applause-worthy.
For its triumphs, 100 Wayz has its flaws, like “Good Pu$$y.” The production is surprisingly solid, but Kurupt "singy songy" flow fails miserably alongside awful content. “Smells Like Brand-New Money” sounds like a Dem Franchise Boys outtake. “Do You Drank” production is so-so and though the emcees rock an impressive flow they can’t salvage a very underwhelming track. “Crazy in the Club” fails from title to delivery. Cliché tracks like the above have plagued the duo in recent releases. For all the Chronic-inspired themes, half of the album feels a heavy helping of the same mediocre DPG that arguably destroyed the duo's brand post-Death Row.
Although the album wavers, it gives glimpses to the fact that Daz and Kurupt still have the chemistry and the hunger that made them, and the sound that fans loved the most. This is not Dogg Food, but DPG is one of the few '95ers not trying to make a sequel - just pay homage.