herald

Saturday 3 December 2016

Snoop Dogg

The PR spin doctors certainly did good for Nero. Mention the Roman emperor's name and we think of a party animal who fiddled while Rome burned. Mind you, Nero, a noted songwriter, did himself no favours.

It's alleged he lit up his parties by having Christians dipped in oil and set alight. After he died, there was a spate of Nero lookalikes. As with Elvis, his followers believed that Nero hadn't died and would, one day, be back with a few new tunes.

Like them, we all yearn for a return of the good times.

And here comes Snoop Dogg with a set of beats that recall the heady days of 70s and 80s funk. Celebrity gardner Alan Titchmarsh would surely award Snoop's album sleeve, an array of neatly shaved topiary, Silver Gilt.

Snoop is cruisin'. Hood down, stash on his lap, he rolls through a suburban Nirvana, crooning the self-satisfied song of a man whose appetites have been sated.

"Come along to the friendly skies," he urges on Edibles, a hymn to hash brownies. "Get that body high, girl." So far, so all very Nero.

That he has the ubiquitous Pharrell as producer ensures that these 10 streamlined and airbrushed tracks are as lovingly curated as expensive museum pieces.

But here's a thing. What are we to make of the timing of Snoop's release?

Right now, there's trouble on the streets. From LA to Baltimore, and places in between, people are proclaiming that Black Lives Matter. There's some heavy stuff going down. D'Angelo (Black Messiah) and Kendrick Lamar (To Pimp a Butterfly) are just two artists whose recent acclaimed work carries a political punch.

As he gets older, Snoop seems to be fiddlin' on the comfortable equivalent of the cabaret circuit. He's still smooth. Lecherous, even. "I'm Ya Dogg," he assures us. "Keep me coming."

Stevie Wonder's trademark harmonica sound conjures mythic images of place on the looping California Roll, which is also graced by Pharrell's familiar pipes. Radio hit? You betcha.

Laden with unmistakable P-Funk tropes, Bush has an easy-going charm that's about as substantial as a 99. There's plenty of ear candy, for sure, including Peaches N Cream, a body-poppin' floor-buster which features contributions from The Gapp Band's Charlie Wilson and, the man himself, George Clinton.

It's all suitably relaxed. But, in these dangerous times, Snoop is becoming a bit too Val Doonican for his own good. HHHII

Columbia

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