Tha Blue Carpet Treatment

Artist: Snoop DoggTitle: Tha Blue Carpet TreatmentRating: 4 StarsReviewed by: Paine

In 2004, Snoop Dogg scored his biggest hit in the post riding shotgun with Dr. Dre years with The Neptunes-assisted "Drop it Like it's Hot". But while R&G was aimed at the charts with Southern and East Coast-seasoned production, Snoop's Tha Blue Carpet Treatment (Doggystyle/Geffen) uses production from in and out of California, culminating in an album that lyrically spotlights the West Coast sound, style, and legacy. While The Game is turning heads and churning charts with an energetic flow and hard-nosed lyrics, Snoop faithfully follows his script of laid back drawl and pimpish charm, a gift and a curse.

"Conversations" may be the wisest Snoop has ever sounded. As DJ Pooh re-recorded Stevie Wonder singing his classic, "Have a Talk With God", Snoop preaches to wayward women and misled youth over one of the best examples of feel-good music in 2006. In contrast though, "Gangbangin' 101" highlights some of the most blatant gang references heard on a mainstream record since the DJ Quik/MC Eiht glory years. As The Game tells a story of running out of gas in Crip infested streets, Snoop uncovers elements of being jumped in and rising the ranks. Speaking of Eiht, he, E-40, Tha Dogg Pound, and Goldie Loc appear on "Candy". Though the track shows Snoop's rekindling with four former adversaries, and one legend, "Candy" feels like an overstuffed mixtape effort. Rick Rock supplies another looped-up Digable Planets beat, carbon-copy to his "Yay Area" for E-40.

Tha Blue Carpet Treatment is the most Dr. Dre has participated on a Snoop album since 199's over-hyped Tha Last Meal. Though none of the three collaborations have that smash hit sound, the quality is impeccable. "Imagine" sees Dre on the mic, admiring the accolades of the 15-year contribution he and Snoop have made over a minimalist piano beat. Veteran producers Rhythm D and Battlecat supplied "A B***h I Knew", which has the thump and the chorus of an early Too Short classic. Timbaland gives Snoop a classic gem "Get a Light", which is an eerie drum-and-bass creation that not only appeases the club crowd, but allows Snoop to get convincingly gangsta on a pop track, something he's failed to do since "B***h Please".

Just as Nas had repeatedly tried to outdo Illmatic, Snoop appears to be chasing his Doggstyle hunger pains. Thus, Tha Blue Carpet Treatment is not about being a boss, but rather an album that recognizes all levels of the street struggle. From The Game and Akon to MC Eiht and DJ Pooh, Snoop recognizes his formers and followers better than ever before. Tha Doggfather plays his position, coercing old and new fans to respect his gangsta, by giving both crowds an album they can trust.