SO SO Gangtsa

Later, people would also recognize

D-A-Z as the producer of classic Death Row jams like "Tha Doggfather"

and "Ambitionz Az A Ridah". Unfortunately, after swooping under the

mainstream radar following his departure from Tha Row, the West Coast

figure would become as well known for his controversial interviews and

questionable independent output as he would for his best material. With

major-backed set So So Gangsta (So So Def/Virgin), this Dogg

Pound 'G' has a bone to pick with anyone who dared to dismiss his

talents after leaving Suge’s one-time empire.

Beginning with the ominous "Thang On My Hip", the rapper lays

waste to his lyrical adversaries over a thunderous No I.D. production

that refuses to let up on its menace. Warning the hypothetical

opposition that he keeps his weapon of choice by his side, Daz's

subject matter harks back to the lyricism of Dogg Food, albeit not quite as fresh as it once sounded. Needless to say, many of the cuts on offer here live up to the albums

eyebrow raising title. The self-explanatory "Rat-A-Tat-Tat" works well

because Daz's flow sounds as good here as it did in his Death Row

heyday, and another classic beat ensures some sloppy lyrics can be

forgiven. Other tracks don't fare quite as well: haven't we heard

enough odes to being a Dogg Pound Gangsta without another in the form

of the mediocre "DPG Fo' Life"?

In the presence of strong company, Daz excels. "Strizap" is saved from being another

gun homage via a stellar Ice Cube verse that motivates Dillinger to

come with his 'A' game. On "Weekend", meanwhile, it's nothin' but a

gangsta party, with an inspired JD production and the sultry vocals of

Johnta Austin combining to provide a clear standout.

There’s no question that some will be put off by Daz’s relentless

gangsta persona, which is certainly beginning to show some age.

However, great production work from Scott Storch ("Money On My Mind")

and, of course, Daz himself, coupled with the sheer energy that

pulsates through every offering, means So So Gangsta avoids the dog house. Having said that, this canine could stand to showcase some newer tricks next time he's unleashed.