R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta)

Artist: Snoop DoggTitle: R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta)Rating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Jozen Cummings

Let’s forget all the hyperbole about Snoop’s illustrious 12-year career in Hip-hop; it has no place in an album review, it belongs in a Hip-hop history book. Rather, let’s stick to current events. Snoop Dogg has a new album, R&G Rhythm and Gangsta: The Masterpiece (Geffen), and it’s exactly that – a masterpiece. From the album’s intro, “I Love to Give you Light” produced by Alchemist, to the lead single, “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” Snoop’s latest is perhaps his greatest since 1993’s Doggystyle.

As a rapper, Snoop has made progress, and therein lies the most impressive thing about R&G. When he debuted in 1992, the young Long Beach native was shy, and though his flow was uniquely his, he had a tendency to sound like a kid in the back of the classroom who just wouldn’t speak up. But now Snoop spits like he owns that flow (and truth be told, he does), and is daring someone to step up and try to do it better. On “The Bidness” he warns any haters who choose to confront him personally with their hate to “Close your chops/ I knows your spots/ keep talking nigga/I’ll expose your knots.”

Another sign of Snoop’s wisdom is the healthy balance between songs for the street and songs for the club. The aforementioned “The Bidness” and “Oh No” featuring 50 Cent are just as good as any other banger in the hood. Then there’s the grown and sexy feel of “Let’s Get Blown,” which has Snoop crooning like a ghetto Sinatra over a streamlined beat by The Neptunes. He switches between both styles of Hip-hop better than Bo Jackson did football and baseball.

Of course, R&G also has its fair share of guest appearances. Some of the more impressive ones are Pharrell from The Neptune’s on “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” where he says slick lines like, “The Phantom/exterior like fish eggs/the interior like suicide wrist red/I can exercise you/this can be your phys-ed/cheat on your man ma, that’s how you get ihizead.” Then there’s Nelly who brings his Midwest pimp game on “Girl Like You,” as the two trade lines about a pair of females they want to talk to. And, in what has become a Hip-hop boilerplate, “Step Yo Game Up” featuring Lil Jon and Trina, Snoop flows so easily over the dirty South 808’s that it’s hard to believe he was once mocked and laughed at for being on No Limit.

Going on about how great of an album R&G is, is easy, and there’s really little room to criticize Snoop on one particular thing, because the range he displays and the chances he takes can probably answer every one of them. It’s no secret that he has become a rapper of superstar proportions (more people probably know his name than own any of his records), which might make some miss the days when he was just a rapper, and that right there may be the only problem: It took two years to release R&G, and after one listen, you can only pray that he doesn’t let movie roles and endorsement deals get in the way of making another album sooner.