(AllHipHop Reviews) Having been a fan of Snoop Dogg since before he dropped “Doggy” from the middle of his name, I had very high expectations when I first saw the cover art for Neva Left last month. Fortunately, the album doesn’t disappoint and I believe it is a landmark release in Snoop’s iconic discography.
Coming less than one year after his Coolaid LP, Snoop Dogg’s fifteenth solo release finds him at the top of his game. The Doggfather succeeds at tapping into every phase of his 25-year career in just over an hour. In the hands of a lesser artist, it could easily seem like he or she is spreading themselves too thin. However, with Snoop, that is not the case. In a recent interview with AllHipHop.com, he said, “I am the voice of the people that can’t speak,” and I commend him for using his stature to speak for people from so many different walks of life. Neva Left is him doing that in musical form.
The title track and album opener has Snoop rhyming over The Charmels’ 1967 cut “As Long as I’ve Got You”, which is better known to Hip-Hop audiences as The Wu-Tang Clan classic “C.R.E.A.M.” And he does the track justice just like Raekwon, Method Man, and Inspectah Deck did almost a quarter of a century ago. Elsewhere, on “Bacc In Da Dayz,” A Tribe Called Quest’s “Check the Rhyme” is sampled as Snoop flows perfectly over the J-Massive produced track.
Other highlights include the synth soaked “Go On” with R&B singer October London and DJ Battlecat’s remix of Snoop’s “Vapors” cover both of which will hopefully make their way onto numerous summer playlists. Then there’s the politically-charged “Lavender (Nightfall Remix)” which has lyrics just as powerful as the video which was released in March with S-N- double- O-P aiming a fake gun at 45, a/k/a President Donald Trump. “Stay black, payback from way back / I’m the homie, but the motherf****n’ homie don’t play that.”
One of the few criticisms I have of this album is that it is a bit too littered with features, especially since Snoop didn’t collaborate with writers this go round and had a clear purpose. That issue is very minor though because Snoop never feels like a guest on his own project, and, in fact, he makes use of his collaborators exceptionally well. KRS-One delivers a very memorable performance on “Let Us Begin” where he and Snoop kick knowledge without sounding at all preachy. The two weed-themed songs “420 (Blaze Up)” and “Mount Kushmore” are both dope and all the rappers on each song come off more like a united ensemble cast as opposed to trying to outshine one another. And other than a trap record with Atlanta rapper K. Camp which misses the mark (“Trash Bags”), this album is a true testament to Snoop Dogg’s ability to create hit music with a wide range of sounds and artists. The only thing that Neva Left is still missing guest-wise, for something that’s quite nostalgic, is an interlude from DJ Saul T. Nuts over at W. Balls 187.4 and a beat from Dr. Dre.
Neva Left finishes strong with Kendrick Lamar on the intro of “Still Here,” the album’s penultimate track, where he informs a young Hip-Hop fan that even after decades since his entrance in the rap game, Snoop didn’t ever move away from it. And then the project’s closer, “Love Around the World,” is a self-explanatory song about how Snoop receives admiration “from the streets to the suites.”
No other entertainer, for 25 years straight, has consistently changed with the times, delivered quality content, and shifted popular culture like Snoop Dogg. Ever since he made his first appearance on “Deep Cover” in 1992, he has been in the public eye. From having a role in an Academy Award winning movie [2001’s Training Day] to being “America’s Most Lovable Pimp” to co-hosting a cooking show with Martha Stewart and everything before, after, and in between, none of it would have been possible without the charisma and credibility he first garnered as a rapper and that is why it’s something Snoop never left behind. And based on the quality of this 16 track collection, hopefully he doesn’t plan on leaving it anytime soon either.
What do you think of Snoop’s latest offering? Please share your thoughts in the comments section?