At this point in Snoop Dogg’s career, it’s safe to say that the man can literally do whatever the hell he wants and it will solidify himself as one of the most iconic figures in music. His stint in renaming himself ‘Snoop Lion’ a couple of years ago to release his Reggae album, would have been something that he himself probably would have laughed at in the 90s. Yet if anything the stint gave the world more reason to love him than before. The man is now barely known for his music and is instead known as a figurehead for promoting marijuana and being an all round character.
This gives him the creative freedom that no one else in Hip-Hop has. ‘BUSH’ is pretty much Snoop’s take on funk and disco with some elements of Hip-Hop thrown in. He’s decided to collaborate with Pharrell Williams once again after some very successful collaborations in the past. The result is that Pharrell gives us some of the most enjoyable production he’s done on his own in the last few years since his comeback. The instrumentals could have been inspired by Williams’ collaboration with Daft Punk in 2013. There are lightly plucked Chic-esque guitars and a quirkiness in the basslines, synth leads and the general odes to the past that seeps into most of the tracks on here. Pharrell lays the groundwork for what could be some fantastic pop songs.
Over the top of these instrumentals Snoop Dogg does something strange. He decides that his calling in the music industry is in fact soft singing instead of charismatic rapping. The lead single for this album ‘Peaches N Cream’ is somewhat an exception to this as Snoop strikes a balance between rapping and singing over one of the most poppy and accessible tracks on the album. But for the most part Snoop is just singing; quite uncharacteristically as well. As one can imagine Snoop’s ability as a singer isn’t all that impressive so what happens time and time again is that the vocals are taken with a fair amount of auto-tune (something not entirely a bad thing) and then it’s unfortunately buried underneath Pharrell’s production. It’s odd because this sometimes makes it sound like Snoop is a guest on his own track. The opener for the album ‘California Roll’ just sounds like a collaboration between Pharrell and Stevie Wonder (who seems to be everywhere at the moment) with some occasional guest spots from the Dogg.
It’s not that Snoop is particularly bad on this album – all the hooks on this album do stick such as the infectious ‘R U A Freak’, ‘Edibles’ and the aforementioned ‘Peaches N Cream’ – it’s just his presence could have been felt so much more. T.I rides over his beat so well on his guest spot on ‘Edibles’ and Kendrick Lamar has a decent spot on the closing track for the album ‘I’m Ya Dogg’, but Snoop’s talents of having so much character and filling so much space on a track isn’t felt on here. There’s a lingering feeling that if Snoop had struck more of a balance of rapping/singing or if his singing had been dealt with a bit better this project would have benefited greatly.
But that’s the price of being able to do whatever the hell you want without it having any detrimental affect on your career – you can afford to experiment and make mistakes. Snoop’s status as a long living legend in Hip-Hop will not be altered because of this album, and Snoop will probably continue to make music however the hell he wants. ‘BUSH’ isn’t a particularly good album or a particularly bad one, it’s one that is just distinctively unmoving.
Best Tracks: Peaches N Cream, I’m Ya Dogg