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Reviewed by Jim Washington
Now, of course, he’s a multimedia personality, with his own reality show, movie roles and porn series under his belt (ahem). At first listen, Snoop’s latest album seems to fall into a pattern arguably going back to his first solo disc – a couple of killer singles surrounded by a lot of filler – but the more you listen, the more the filler grows on you, and the singles reveal themselves as some of his most entertaining work in years.
For Ego Trippin,’ his ninth album (not counting all those mixtapes and other collections), Snoop looks backward, from his influences to the production style. First, he put together an ace old-school production team consisting of himself, new jack swinger Teddy Riley and Compton homey DJ Quik. They drape the album in ‘70s-style soul reverb, piano loops and samples from folks like the Isley Brothers and Brooklyn Dreams. He even does his best Morris Day on a faithful and funky cover of “Cool” by the Time. And check out the way-back machine video for “Sexual Eruption” on YouTube (known as “Sensual Seduction” on the album’s clean version).
You would think by this time that not much new could be done with the menage a trois of rap, soul and R&B, but damned if Snoop and his team don’t pull out some surprises. The slinky “Gangsta Like Me” is a standout, with a menacing bass line and funny dialog between Snoop and some friendly female fans, and “Sexual Eruption” sounds like the soundtrack to a (really dirty) ‘70s prom. “Deez Hollywood Nights” is another stylistic throwback, where Snoop trades girls with Leonard DiCaprio and “Jessica Alba, Jessica Simpson and even Jessica Biel, wanna know I feel.” Lyric-wise, the album covers the basics, bragging on Snoop’s women, skills, lifestyle and money (a favorite boast: “My pockets look like Rerun, your pockets look like Raj.”) Check out the country(!) song dedicated to Johnny Cash, who I believe never actually said “My love will last as long as my high / And I’m high all day long.”
At the same time, Snoop the family man rears his cornrowed head, sometimes in only marginally family-value terms, such as telling a random groupie “we can do our thing but you can’t be wifey.” But on “Been Around tha World,” Snoop does an honest-to-God love song, all about being on the road too long and waiting to get back home to his baby Boo.
At 21 tracks, the album could use a good edit, but at this point in his career, too many songs is not a bad problem to have. Really, is it ego trippin’ if you’re still the real deal (Holyfield)?