Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus is one of the most popular rap artists in the entire goddamn galaxy. It's arguable that he's even all that known for his actual music these days: the man has permeated pop culture to such a degree that it's grown exceedingly difficult to imagine a world without him in it. Snoop has successfully embraced so many diverse business ventures that he could never pick up the microphone again and still can leave behind a legacy, plus his massive wealth, for his great-great-great grandchildren, which is quite a feat for a guy who grew up struggling in Long Beach, California and could have easily had it all taken away from him very early in his career, had that whole “on trial for murder” thing not worked out in his favor.
Obviously the man Snoop owes much of this to is Andre “Dr. Dre” Young, who discovered the guy and gave him a co-starring role on his own solo debut, The Chronic. But if you have to pad the article, as I do, there are two others who deserve some credit for making Calvin the man he is today. There's the (former) head of Death Row Records, Marion “Suge” Knight, who infamously bullied his way to the top of the Billboard charts with the fabled gangsta rap that hip hop heads didn't realize they deserved in the 1990s: without his incessant need to control every aspect of his label, up to and including altering songs and artistic visions just to service his own desires, Snoop wouldn't have had anyone to rebel against after the defection of his mentor (and label co-founder) Dr. Dre and the murder of his friend and labelmate 2Pac. (Nope, haven't quite forgotten about Pac yet. Sigh.)
The other guy in this tale is Percy “Master P” Miller, who famously gave Snoop a place to crash when he skipped out on his contractual obligation to continue recording for Death Row. The various details of how Percy managed to do this without being brutally murdered by Suge Knight are still not widely known (I realize that he obviously entered into some sort of deal with Suge, but whether Knight profited off of Snoop's sales like Eazy-E did on Dre's after Dre left Ruthless Records to form Death Row is beyond me), but the end result was three full-length albums on No Limit Records that found Snoop Dogg facing both the ups and the downs of his career, sometimes simultaneously.
As I've written before, his first post-Death Row release, Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told was pretty much Snoop's take on the No Limit formula: a packed-to-the-fucking-gills mess featuring cheap instrumentals that took all of three minutes apiece to create, guest spots galore (all filled by his new labelmates, since it seems that every No Limit artist always appeared on every other No Limit artist's projects), and a gaudy-as-shit album cover designed to promote excess and tackiness. His follow-up, No Limit Top Dogg, was more of a throwback to his earlier work: if the previous album was Snoop's way of thanking Master P for letting him crash on his couch while he worked out some shit, No Limit Top Dogg was Snoop purchasing both the couch and the house, creating space for himself while Percy moved into a much bigger mansion down the block. The No Limit Influence was substantially subdued for No Limit Top Dogg, as Snoop was given carte blanch to do whatever the hell he wanted in the booth, and whatever the hell he wanted to do included getting Dr. Dre and his Dogg Pound brethren back into the fold, so as to let his fans know that he hadn't forgotten about what made him popular in the first place.
Snoop's final album for No Limit, Tha Last Meal, goes all out: in addition to heavily resorting to the West Coast sound of the day to get his thoughts across (Percy and his crew barely factor into the project), he even commissioned album artwork from Darryl “Joe Cool” Daniel, the same guy that designed the cover for Doggystyle, the man's seminal debut that features “Gin & Juice”, a song that everyone I know still fucking loves to this day. Tha Last Meal doubles as the first album released on Snoop's own vanity label, Doggystyle Records, signifying that it was time for Calvin to move on and take control of his own destiny within our chosen genre. Which he obviously has: you don't film music videos with the likes of PSY unless you believe that you are in total control of your public image.
As I've mentioned before, I used to be a huge fan of Snoop Dogg (more so back when he still went by Snoop Doggy Dogg), but he lost me around the time he signed to No Limit Records. The music snob in me felt that he made a terrible choice: had Snoop ended up on Def Jam or Loud or something else even remotely respectable in my eyes, I may have followed his career a bit more closely. I'm more familiar with Tha Last Meal than I was No Limit Top Dogg, but I still haven't bothered to listen to the whole album until now. So I had better get to work, as I just found out that I haven't written about Calvin Broadus in about three fucking years, and that's no way to finish what I started.
Um, was there really a reason to waste Dr. Dre's production on this inessential rap album intro? Not only is there no rapping, it also doesn't serve to remind fans of their previous work together on Death Row. The fuck, man?
2. HENNESSEY N BUDDAH (FEAT. KOKANE)
At least Dre rectifies that last mistake by also producing the first actual song on Tha Last Meal, an enjoyable mission statement that finds Calvin re-exerting his dominance in the rap game (I could have written “pop culture” instead of “rap game” and that sentence still would have been completely accurate, and you know this) with verses, a sing-songy hook, and another chorus entirely, from guest star Kokane, that bookends the track. Snoop cribs from the KRS-One playbook for both the intro and outro to this song, running through a list of famous friends as though the audience was asking for clarification of his social status, but other than that unnecessary bit, this was a pretty good way to start things off. Dre's beat also sounds entertainingly elastic, which was a nice touch. (Dre also mixed a lot of the tracks on Tha Last Meal, so he had a bit more input in how this project sounds than you might have realized.)
3. SNOOP DOGG (WHAT'S MY NAME PT. 2) (FEAT. TIMBALAND)
Snoop Dogg wouldn't have been my first choice for an artist to rhyme over a Timbaland beat, but given Timbo's high profile at the time (that dude's been pretty popular for quite a while now, huh?), it's not surprising. Having both Dr. Dre and Timbaland produce on Tha Last Meal must have made this the most expensive No Limit Records project ever fucking released. Anyway, Snoop takes Timbo's bland-to-okay beat and turns in a sequel to one of his early Death Row solo shots, but while the end result is at least better than Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told's “Gin & Juice II”, this was still plenty boring. Snoop sounds uninterested, the hook is apathetic, and there is really no reason for anyone to ever want to listen to this shit. So of course it was a single. Obviously.
4. TRUE LIES (FEAT. KOKANE)
Snoop front-loads Tha Last Meal with A-list production, which worries me, since there's still fifteen tracks left to run through. Our host uses Dre's simple instrumental to comment on the lies people will tell in order to function, even underscoring all of this with an extended sound bite from former President Bill Clinton taken from around the time of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. As expected, Snoop fails to stay on topic, which disrupts the overall flow of the track, but it didn't seem that he had all that much to say about this subject anyway. Guest star Kokane lends another hook, but “True Lies” is easily forgettable, so that shit doesn't even matter in the long run.
5. WRONG IDEA (FEAT. BAD AZZ, KOKANE, & LIL' HALF DEAD)
Our host performs on the hook and lends a verse, but “Wrong Idea” never really feels like it's his song, a fact that makes more sense when you learn that guest star Bad Azz actually released this as his own single while promoting his own sophomore project, Personal Business. Jelly Roll's production is West Coast to a fault: it sounds so lazy that he may as well have affixed the Hollywood sign to the beat itself. Snoop, Bad Azz, Lil' Half Dead, and Kokane don't fare any better: they've all done better work throwing up their respective sets and owning their California love. I can't imagine this track as being well-liked, which means it was probably a massive hit that somehow slipped past me. Oh well.
6. GO AWAY (FEAT. KOKANE)
The Keith Clizark / Meech Wells beat is pretty good, and our host is as entertaining as he usually can be, but there's one thing keeping “Go Away” from being a truly good song, and that is the repetition of the entire first verse as the third verse. This tactic works in other musical genres, but in hip hop, which is dependent on its words, this approach comes across as really fucking lazy. Which is too bad, because aside from that miscalculation, “Go Away” isn't half bad. A shame.
7. SET IT OFF (FEAT. MC REN, THE LADY OF RAGE, ICE CUBE, NATE DOGG, KURUPT, & TIMBALAND)
Timbaland's other beat for Tha Last Meal is a much catchier monster that helps “Set It Off” become the best song on the entire fucking project, although it earns that title based on the strength of its guest list alone. MC Ren, who kicks things off, even delivers an opening that ranks as one of the most memorable in the history of our chosen genre, if not just for me alone: “Here come the villain again, grab your ho and get the fuck outta town”. I'm sure Timbo never thought that he would get the chance to score an N.W.A track, and he still hasn't, but “Set It Off” is the closest we'll ever come these days. Unfortunately, Cube only lends a hook, rendered useless when the late Nate Dogg starts crooning a chorus of his own, and Kurupt only ad-libs at the very end, but Ren, Rage (who wasn't even signed to a label at this time, as evidenced by the confusion surrounding her appearance in the liner notes), and Snoop sound invigorated and turn in killer verses as though they were excited as fuck to work together. It's weird that this collaboration never lead to anything aside from this one song. But this one song? Pretty fucking great.
8. STACEY ADAMS (FEAT. KOKANE)
Snoop's pimp tales, on which he sounds so passive about the entire process, never goes much of anywhere in the first place, so when our host interrupts his own proceedings by having the fictional WBALLS radio station take over the back half of the track, it's a welcome diversion, albeit one that also never goes much of anywhere. (Also, the actual call letters WBALLS are never used, although the implication is very clear (an intellectual property argument with Suge Knight and Death Row Records, maybe?), and I stand by my assertion that someone dropped the ball by not offering Snoop his very own satellite radio station.) DJ Battlecat's beat is bland, Kokane's singing is limited to one sentence repeated to death, and Calvin sounds like he just can't wait to get to the next song. So it goes.
9. LAY LOW (FEAT. NATE DOGG, BUTCH CASSIDY, THA EASTSIDAZ, MASTER P, & DR. DRE)
After a quick, unnecessary Dr. Dre voicemail interlude, Tha Last Meal launches into a posse cut that served as what I thought was the project's second single, but is apparently the third, at least according to Wikipedia. Andre's instrumental is the best of the ones he lent to Snoop, and Calvin sounds great, actually giving a shit about his delivery. Both crooners on here, Butch Cassidy and the late, great Nathaniel Dogg, add to the overall experience, but I do wish Snoop used “Lay Low” as more than just a showcase for his Eastsidaz weed carriers and as an excuse to work his label boss Master P onto a Dr. Dre prescription. Percy, predictably, sounds awful over the most expensive beat he will ever have the pleasure of pillaging. But the rest of “Lay Low” still connects today.
10. BRING IT ON (FEAT. SUGA FREE & KOKANE)
I have it on good authority that Snoop picked up Kokane at a bulk rate, as there is no other reason why the dude would show up so goddamn often on Tha Last Meal. I don't know how Jelly Roll, a producer I'm fairly indifferent to but sometimes turns in nice work, managed to craft a West Coast beat that sounds instantly tired, but he's done, by gum, and Snoop, pimp-slash-rapper-slash-pimp Suga Free, and Kokane all sound relatively bored over the results. The bars themselves are decent, and Suga Free gets in a nice dirty joke, but overall this just wasn't what anyone wanted.
11. GAME COURT (SKIT) (FEAT. MAC MINISTER)
It sure was nice of Snoop to work in a bathroom break at the halfway point of an already-exhausting album. I should send him a fruit basket or something as a show of thanks.
Aside from the obvious reference to the then-current year during the track itself, this one-verse wonder sounds as though it could just as easily have been recorded during the Doggystyle era, as Calvin mixes his youthful enthusiasm with, for lack of a better, more proper word, swag to turn in a track where all he does is speak the truth (except for when he doesn't). Over Meech Wells's flexible instrumental, Snoop talks himself up while, surprisingly, touching on the breakup of Tha Dogg Pound, which, you may have forgotten, was a bigger deal back in 2000, with Kurupt even defecting back to Death Row Records for a spell. A nice hidden gem that doesn't take up too much of one's day.
13. BRAKE FLUID (BIIITTCH PUMP YO BRAKES) (FEAT. KOKANE)
I've always liked Scott Storch's beat on here, as it sounds like something that could have seamlessly slid onto Tha Dogg Pound's Dogg Food (aside from the whole “not produced by Dat N---a Daz” thing, anyway). But I've also always felt that Snoop Dogg was not the right man to tackle it: our host squanders the instrumental by talking about the various women in his life and how he disrespects pretty much all of them (because, sadly, this is hip hop's way). Kokane's hook is kind of goofy, but all in all, this track was a waste of time for all parties involved. And why the hell was this shit more than five minutes long?
14. READY 2 RYDE (FEAT. EVE)
Just because Kurupt was having problems with DMX doesn't mean that all of his friends also had beef, as evidenced by Snoop's Scott Storch-produced collaboration with Eve, the first (and possibly only, unless I'm remembering this wrong) lady of the Ruff Ryders camp. Well, that, and the fact that Eve was actually signed to Dr. Dre's Aftermath label first, so it was inevitable that she and Calvin would eventually cross paths, possibly at the office Christmas party or something. Storch's beat isn't bad, and as Eve is one of the more engaging female emcees out there, her back-and-forth with Snoop (which, thank fuck, does not cover the well-worn “battle of the sexes” territory) is entertaining enough. The track as a whole isn't quite ready for prime time, but it wasn't objectionable.
15. LOOSEN' CONTROL (FEAT. BUTCH CASSIDY)
Soopafly's production aside, meh.
16. I CAN'T SWIM
When I first read through the album credits, for a split second, I thought co-producer Casey Wilson was the same actress from the late, fucking great TV show Happy Endings. I'm just kidding, but would that have made this shit far more interesting? Although I do have to give Snoop credit for choosing to rhyme over such an unorthodox-ish beat. Said credit is then revoked when he chooses to rap in the guise of a woman. It isn't Nas-performing-as-”Scarlett”-on-two-tracks-off-of-Street's Disciple creepy, but it was still skippable.
17. LEAVE ME ALONE
Snoop's flow has always lent itself well to actual sung vocals, but “Leave Me Alone” (sadly, not a cover of the Michael Jackson standard) is one of the few instances in his career where he essentially sings a rap song. This may suit him slightly better than, say, a Nelly or an Auto-Tuned Kanye West, but this track still didn't quite work for me.
18. BACK UP OFF ME (FEAT. MR. MAGIC & MASTER P)
Master Percy, making his second appearance, and the late Mr. Magic are the only two members of the No Limit roster to strongarm their way into cameos on Tha Last Meal, making it incredibly clear to everyone involved that Calvin was pretty much done with the label at this point, and the (really tiny) tank logo on the back cover was but a mere legal formality. Thanks to Carlos Stephen (of Beats By The Pound, just in case you didn't think that team would sneak on here somehow) and his beat, “Back Up Off Me” is also the most No Limit-esque track on here, as it is a spiritual cousin to C-Murder's Snoop-and-Mr. Magic-featured “Down 4 My N----z”. Percy sounds, well, you've already guessed, and Mr. Magic comes across as a more coherent Mystikal, which is an odd choice, since Mystikal had left No Limit just one year prior, but whatever, maybe he missed him. The song isn't awful, but the most memorable bit arrives at the end, when Master P acknowledges that Snoop has fulfilled the terms of his contract and wishes him well in the future, all while speaking in an ill-advised Tony Montana-ish accent. Still, it was awfully nice for Percy to give Calvin final cut, even though that meant his own label got much of the shaft.
19. Y'ALL GONE MISS ME (FEAT. KOKANE)
Tha Last Meal ends (finally!) with “Y'all Gone Miss Me”, a fitting conclusion to this particular era of Calvin's career. Scott Storch's instrumental is reflective and serious, which lends snoop an air of genuine sincerity when he thanks Percy for the opportunity, as he walks away from No Limit without burning even the smallest of bridges (which is far from what he did with Death Row, but that's a story for another day). Kokane puts in his final guest appearance of the evening, his voice cracking just a tad bit while expressing Snoop's sentiments in a way Snoop himself can't quite do. Obviously, that song title could be directed at everyone else within our chosen genre, as well, given how much of an impact Snoop Dogg has made in hip hop. A pretty good way to end it all, I suppose.
THE LAST WORD: Tha Last Meal works as a decent swan song to Snoop Dogg's No Limit era, mostly because the guy gets all nostalgic and sentimental and shit at the very end, but up until that point, this was yet another overlong album with no real focus. One of Snoop's biggest problems is that he doesn't really know how to quit while he's ahead: hell, there are tracks on Doggystyle that outright suck, too. He's friendly and will pass the microphone to pretty much anyone with a pulse, but there are only so many ways for him to relay the same messages, and as of Tha Last Meal, he hadn't quite figured out any new tricks. There are a few outright bangers on here (his collaborations with half of N.W.A. and “Lay Low” stand out for obvious reasons), but they aren't enough justification to spend money on the actual album. Hell, that's what iTunes is for. You can pick up those two songs and leave the rest of this alone, and you won't feel like you missed out on much.
Catch up with Snoop by clicking here.
Oh, you're still here? Okay then.
My Gut Reaction: Snoop Dogg - Dead Man Walkin' (October 31, 2000)
Now even though Suge Knight willingly gave up Snoop in his deal with Master P, nobody really expected him to not be a dick about it. To that end, Suge compiled and released Dead Man Walkin', a collection of songs Snoop recorded during his tenure at Death Row Records that never saw the light of day for whatever reason (probably because they all suck? What, too soon?). Over the course of twelve tracks, the project found Calvin treading much of the same water as he had throughout his career, but with beats coming from the likes of Daz Dillinger, among others who he worked with prior to his big move to New Orleans, which should have made this a somewhat interesting throwaway, to say the least.
A lot of labels pull this kind of sneaky shit, so Dead Man Walkin's existence came as no surprise to anyone who followed hip hop. Snoop was on Death Row for quite a while: of course not every song he ever recorded would have been released. And this compilation hit store shelves a few months before Tha Last Meal, an approach intended to steal the focus away from Tha Last Meal and possibly make a few bucks from unsuspecting patrons who apparently didn't know how to fucking read. Again, though, this shit happens a lot. Suge had even done it before, releasing a glorified label sampler called Chronic 2000 just to fuck with his former friend Dr. Dre, who had been promising an album called The Chronic 2000 for years before this shit caused him to switch up his plan and change his then-upcoming project's name to 2001, which, of course, you two are obviously more familiar with. (I'm actually surprised Suge hasn't tried to release an album called Detox, to be honest: it seems like the kind of petty shit he would be into.)
But the real dick move came when Tha Last Meal leaked to the Interweb, as all albums eventually do (and rap albums substantially so). Suge had a website commissioned that asked Snoop's fans to decide which of the two competing projects was the better one, but while it only offered streams of the tracks on Dead Man Walkin', it offered an illegal download of Tha Last Meal, so as to take away Snoop's sales, because duh. Considering that this was, as I mentioned in the last sentence, illegal, the site didn't last for very long, and apparently Calvin's fanbase was conditioned at this point to not trust anything with Suge Knight's name attached to it, so sales of Tha Last Meal weren't really affected all that much. And most of you two may be aware of this album's existence, but you never bothered to seek it out because you were convinced that it had to suck, right?
Let's find out together!
1. MAY I (FEAT. LIL' MALIK)
Eschewing formalities of any kind (as unauthorized compilations tend to do), Dead Man Walkin' kicks off with our “host” seemingly mid-conversation, which doesn't bode well for the song quality of relative complete-ness of any of the tracks on this shit. Soopafly's beat sounds insufficient, but Snoop has rhymed over worse. Speaking of Snoop, he sounds as confident and cocky as ever, even though this song is the very definition of “aimless”, going so far as to include a hook that is wholly disconnected from the rest of this world. Then again, most of Snoop's songs consist of shit-talking and vague threats, just like all good rap music (and a lot of bad rap music), so it isn't that difficult to imagine a Snoop fan liking this song. A bit hollow, though.
This Myrion and Big Hutch beat is among the most minimalist Snoop has ever performed over. (The Beats By The Pound instrumentals from Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told weren't “minimalist” as much as “cheap”.) At least until the hook kicks in, which reinforces our host's respect for the West Coast gang culture that he grew up within. He tries to play diplomat by mentioning both Crips and Bloods, but that's just ridiculous, considering the actual name of the song: even your grandmother would be able to decipher where Snoop Lion's set-claiming loyalty lies. Our host's storytelling abilities is one of his unsung strengths, and he uses it to his advantage on here, making this an interesting excursion into a neighborhood you may not want to visit late at night.
3. HEAD DOCTOR (FEAT. RAPHAEL SAADIQ & SWOOP G)
A different collaboration with R&B stalwart Raphael Saadiq (formerly of Tony! Toni! Toné!), “Midnight Love”, is one of my favorite “lost” (read: two-second Google searchable) Snoop Dogg tracks from his Death Row days: to this day I have no idea why it was never officially released (except for on some Death Row greatest hits compilation). It definitely eclipses their other collaborative effort of the time, “Head Doctor”, on which Saadiq is such a nonfactor that I forgot he was even a guest on here. His vocals don't line up at all with the rest of this ode to the blowjob (which, ridiculously, had a video commissioned for it before Snoop defected: I believe it may be available on the DVD for the short film Murder Was The Case, and it appears uncensored, because boobs), but Snoop and guest rapper Swoop G do their best to make with the filthy sex talk and misogyny while trying not to completely alienate the female audience. Kind of dull, actually.
4. HIT ROCKS
A surprisingly interesting, old-school-tinged DJ Pooh / Snoop beat (coupled with some weak scratching that was probably recorded by your three-year-old nephew, who really does need to stay in his lane already) accompanies Calvin's shit-talking, which holds up fairly well, since Snoop's bullshitting transcends eras. Besides, it's not like he's dating himself by dropping highly specific time-sensitive references into his bars or anything. Kind of corny (Snoop doesn't really excel when he tackles monologues at the end of his performances), but actually kind of entertaining, too. Weird. Could have used a better title.
5. TOMMY BOY (FEAT. DAZ DILLINGER)
Snoop and Daz's ode to the defunct hip hop record label. Just kidding, but if you squint your eyes and tilt your head to the side like you just saw some probably-tits in a scrambled porno on your television screen (which doesn't happen anymore, that's what the Interweb is for, so I don't know why I just made that comparison except to significantly date myself), you could treat this track as a cautionary tale against signing with Tommy Boy Records. Or as yet another gang tale, I don't care. The Daz beat is simple but sounds unpolished (which isn't a shock, given the rest of the project so far), but it was alright, I guess. My beef is with the actual verses, which are so mind-numbingly dull that they make gang-banging and pimping sound like the most boring hobbies a man can have. And what the shit was with Snoop's “Southern” accent at the beginning?
6. CHANGE GONE COME
It takes approximately ninety-seven goddamn motherfucking hours for the song to actually start, but when it finally does, you'll be attacked by a surprisingly (because Dead Man Walkin' was pretty much a throwaway-slash-middle finger, mind you) dope beat (credited to L.T. Hutton, Soopafly, and our host) that damn near overrides the other iffy elements of “Change Gone Come”, namely the sing vocals, all of which sound flat. Snoop himself is okay, I guess, but he's drowned out by the instrumental on more than one occasion, and there really isn't anything on here that could justify the song's inclusion on any actual album. Still, that beat, though.
7. TOO BLACK
The dialogue sample played at the beginning implies that “Too Black” is going to be a socio-political critique, or at the very least a discussion of race. Shit, the very title “Too Black” lends itself to that much. Guess what? We're all wrong: this song is all about coffee and is yet another exercise in shit-talking and microphone dominance and isn't about coffee at all, so I'm fairly sure Suge and producer L.T. Hutton (who turned in a rather funky beat on here, with an assist from our host) added all that extra shit in post. Calvin's lackadaisical flow is turned up to eleven on here, as his bars sound as though they were mumbled out of his piehole while he was stoned out of his fucking mind, and they're a bit too lazy to mesh well with the music. But not everything can be Doggystyle, I suppose.
8. GANGSTA WALK (FEAT. DAZ DILLINGER & KURUPT (because they couldn't be credited as just 'Tha Dogg Pound' on the back cover? What the fuck?))
Calvin renews his membership with Tha Dogg Pound for the disjointed mess that is “Gangsta Walk”. I'm thinking that Snoop was really fucking annoyed that Daz and Kurupt had been forced to increase their annual dues for economic reasons, and he took it out on the duo passive-aggressively by recording this horseshit with them. At least, that's one explanation: another would be that this is merely another boring song in the back catalog of Snoop Dogg that never saw the light of day because it sucks. I'm certainly hoping that there aren't any rappers that deliberately decide to record bland, boring songs, anyway. Daz's beat was one-note and meh, and all three collaborators sound like they want nothing more to do with one another, regardless of the actual words coming out of their mouths, which helps Snoop's comments on Tha Last Meal hit a bit closer to home. Groan.
9. COUNTY BLUES (FEAT. KEVIN VERNADO)
For the most part, Snoop sticks with a singular theme for “County Blues”, an audio travelogue describing the fun times that can be had while on an iron vacation. Calvin sounds sober and unmoved, desensitized to all of the insanity going on around him, as he explains to the listener why they really and truly don't want to go to prison without ever specifically telling anyone to change their ways (rappers aren't always that good with the follow-through). Snoop's tone is akin to reading from a grocery list, and his lack of engagement tanks the song, which had an interesting blues-y feel, thanks to the Big Hutch and Daz beat, and probably the song title itself. Oh well.
10. I WILL SURVIVE (FEAT. KEVIN VERNADO, KURUPT, & TECHNIEC)
Snoop Dogg's cover of the Gloria Gaynor hit bravely discards the lyrics, music, and general theme of the original in favor of a composition that showcases lesser-known artists Kevin Vernado and Techniec, for the most part. Kurupt chimes in for a bit, and Calvin does contribute some verses (and a bar that I recognized from the hook of Doggystyle's “Serial Killa”, which has now just dumbfounded me, as it would seem that Dr. Dre sampled the line from “I Will Survive” but this song (probably) didn't exist when “Serial Killa” was recorded and wow my head just exploded), but this track is really the Kev and Tech show. For the record, they sound alright over Soopafly's minimal beat, but the song itself isn't all that special.
11. MY FAVORITE COLOR
So what is Snoop's favorite color? Blue, due to his allegiance with the Crips? Green, as in the color of money and (most) weed? Black, as in the color of his true love's hair? Or none of these, because the words “My Favorite Color” are never fucking mentioned once? I'll let you two guess. But you should probably listen to the song before doing so, because you'll be wrong otherwise, as our host uses this track to actually get a bit serious.
12. ME AND MY DOGGZ (FEAT. TECHNIEC)
Calvin is buried underneath the L.T. Hutton beat on this, the final song on Dead Man Walkin'. Indeed, you can barely hear his vocals at the beginning of the actual song (not counting the film sample that opens the track). This ode to Snoop's many friends meets our host's requirement to include the word “dogg” in at least one song title per project, but it's a fucking poor way to end said project. Whoever sequenced this shit should be punched in the dick. That's all I got.
THE LAST WORD: So yeah, Dead Man Walkin' isn't very good, but you knew that already, because compilations made up of tracks left on the cutting-room floor for a reason tend to not make for entertaining listens. There are a couple of good ideas sprinkled throughout, and with some more love and care, Snoop could have potentially turned a few of these songs into, if not winners, at least things you wouldn't want to skip past right away. But the circumstances surrounding the release of Dead Man Walkin' are too sketchy to ignore: thankfully, only “Hit Rocks” is worth hearing, if not just the once. Just to support Snoop alone, you should ignore this shit, but if you must hear it, a burn is sufficient, because, well, do you really feel like giving Suge another dime?
You can still catch up with Snoop by clicking here. Nothing's changed.