Blue Carpet Treatment
Evolution (n): a
process of change in a certain direction.
Often, reviews of major releases tend to focus (in my opinion unnecessarily) on whether or not the artist has "grown" or "matured" since his last previous album. Snoop Dogg is a beast, plain and simple. He can't possibly grow into a bigger beast, any more than he could grow into a smaller beast. A beast is a beast is a beast - even if the beast has been dormant at times.
What Snoop has done over the years is evolve from a beast into a true artist. This album proves that start to finish. First of all, there's 21 tracks. That's a lot of songs, and each one is artistically distinct from the others. That in itself is a major accomplishment, considering the fact that Snoop Dogg has been establishing his brand of Dogg-music for well over a decade.
"Think About It" is a rapid-fire, don't blink or you'll miss it wonderful
introduction to a long, long stroll through the mind of Calvin Broadus. "That's That" (f. R. Kelly) is an easy anthem about, well, ahh... ok that's not the
point, -one of those beats that makes a Midwest
guy like me almost want to learn to Crip walk. Almost. Speaking of beats, "Candy"
is equally as sick, this time courtesy of an ill Diggable Planets sample and booming 808's made for cruising in Cali. E-40 leads it off with his usually quirky vibe and Snoop comes in family style, tossing
around metaphors about different types of candy. He pauses only to introduce Mc Eiht. Daz hops on just for fun, and the result is a wonderful little west
coast party. My jaw dropped when Snoop
ended it off with an uncharacteristic "holla."
"Get a Light" is a Timbo trip
through the jungle and features Damian
Marley, but unfortunately the two don't match. "Gangbangin' 101" is
tried-and-true west coast gangsta music. The beat is slightly slipped, which
gives the track a real cali-weed feel. The
Game stars on this one, with two verses about the glamorous side of gang
affiliation. "Boss' Life" and "I Wanna Fuck You" both feature Akon, but only the former features the
hard-hitting Snoop D-O-double G that
we've all come to know and love. The song is well-put together by the Doc; a perfect blend of Hip Hop and
R&B that shows that it can be done right.
"LAX" technically features Ice Cube,
but both Snoop, Cube and the sleepy beat are overshadowed by a wonderful B.I.G. and Puff Daddy sample from "Goin' Back To Cali." "10 Lil' Crips" is
really only notable for the gritty Neptunes
instrumental, and "Round Here" has Snoop
doing a great 50 Cent impression,
singing an extended hook and much of the verse as well, all over Dre's incredible Dido-sampled beat. "A Bitch I Knew" is the latest chronology of
previous sexual exploits, no doubt inspired by Too $hort. And in case you're wondering, yes, there is the
obligatory "Vanessa/ undress-her"
rhyme. But more importantly, the beat is absolutely vicious, something out of
the early 90's.
"Like This" is like, not good. The production reminded me of being in a hotel
ballroom and hearing a wedding reception through the walls. "Which One of You"
is just as not good, this time some guy named Nine Inch Dix meanders his way through an irritating, quirky 'Tunes beat. On the other hand "Psst!"
has a lot going on. There's several allusions to pop hits (which is fun)
including Pussycat Dolls mega-hit "Don't
Cha" and T.I's "Why You Wanna." And
there's the constantly switching 808 beat, not to mention Jamie Foxx singing a sassy hook.
And then there's "Imagine." I believe that an album should be judged on its best content; not its worst. Haters are going to hate, but the key to a quality album is to exceed the expectations of your true fan base. With that being said, "Imagine" just might be the single tightest tribute to Hip Hop since Common Sense made "I Used to Love H.E.R." Snoop and Dr. Dre re-unite on the mic again to tell a hypothetical tale of a world without Hip Hop, with all of the infinite ways that our world would be different. Dre's verse is the highlight... "Imagine Russell Still strugglin/ no def jam just another nigga hustlin/ And Ain't no rocs on them fellas/ just some rocks on them fellas just trying to keep it bubblin/ imagine niggas just stuck/ from the east to the west coast e'rybody fucked up/ I can't imagine no less/ it don't take imagination to know niggas been blessed/ with Hip Hop."
And if that weren't ill enough, Snoop
ends it off with none-other than Stevie
Wonder. "Converations" is not for the young. The beat isn't the best, but
the sheer fact that you've got the Doggfather
and arguably the most influential musician in modern day music together on the
same track is staggering. Hip Hop history.
So yeah, Snoop Dogg has evolved. He's at a place and time in his career that 99% of other artists can only dream of. The Blue Carpet Treatment reflects that. Is he still on the west side-gang bangin-dope-slangin-pimp-a-bitch stuff he was on on Doggystyle? Sure. But now he's also got the benefit of a perspective on the game that few, if any can lay claim to. And that comes through in the music. Although he's sure to catch criticism for the album being too long (which it is), and for including so many guest features (George Clinton, Nate Dogg, B-Real, R. Kelly, E-40, MC Eihgt, Daz, Kurupt, Damian Marley, The Game, Akon, Ice Cube, LaToiya Williams, Jamie Foxx, Dr. Dre, D'Angelo, Stevie Wonder just to name a few) he certainly shouldn't be penalized for capitalizing on a career in which he's made so many connections and yet somehow managed to avoid real conflict with anyone. He has made his share of bad songs and less than stellar albums, but his near-15-year career is one few can compete with. Snoop is Hip Hop royalty, and The Blue Carpet Treatment is only fitting.