When Snoop Dogg’s 1993 groundbreaking debut, Doggystyle, dropped, Kendrick Lamar and Drake were 6 years old. Many artists have come and gone in Snoop’s 25 year career run. However, he has remained relevant and picked up steam along the way. He is one of the pioneers who put the West Coast on the map and made rapping cool. What other rapper do you know is best buds with Martha Stewart? So, it’s no surprise that Snoop Dogg has some words for naysayers on his fifteenth studio album, Neva Left. While many veteran Hip Hop artists have tried similar feats of reminding everyone of their past successes, Snoop Dogg appropriately gets everyone in check here.
He starts out strong right out of the gate, with the reminiscent coming of age tale and title track, “Neva Left”. He dubs himself the Miles Davis of gang banging. Snoop Dogg effortlessly glides into the infectiously addictive West Coast bass thumpers “Moment I Feared (featuring Rick Rock)” and “Bacc In Da Dayz (featuring Big Tray Deee)”. His cool, nonchalant flow is more intact than ever on the head bobbing anthem “Promise You This”. He even dives into current day trap music trends with the K CAMP assisted “Trash Bags”. Snoop Dogg takes would could have been an epic fail here and turns it into a great success.
Although the album has a ton of features (only three tracks are void of guest appearances), he holds his own on each track. Take “Go On” featuring October London for instance. The song is a smooth, breezy summer track infused with a splash of R&B. “Big Mouth” finds Snoop Dogg ranting about people with….well, big mouths. He’s clearly angry here in the song’s intro. However, when the song gets into full swing, I can’t help but hear, “Tina got a big ole butt” in the background. He has always balanced the roles of gangsta and comedian well. “Big Mouth” is proof positive of that.
“Toss It” features another rap veteran, Too Short, and Pharaoh. Yet again, Uncle Snoop Dogg shows his nephews of rap how it’s done. This one is sure to be a club favorite. I can’t say “420 (Blaze Up)” with Devin The Dude The Dude, Battlecat and Wiz Khalifa is one of my favorites. But it just wouldn’t be a Snoop album without a reference to, as he puts it, blazing up. KRS-One stops by for the cleverly crafted, trippy rock inspired “Let Us Begin”. Snoop Dogg takes his hand at remaking Biz Markie’s classic “Vapors” with the help of Charlie Wilson and the late Teena Marie. It feels like 1993 all over again.
While there are no “Beautiful” or “Drop It Like It’s Hot” pop gems on Neva Left, he goes back to the essence that made him a star in the first place. Nevertheless, Snoop Dogg simultaneously serves up street and mainstream flavors in only a way that he can. Neva Left is appropriate, because Snoop has always been here. He will be around for as long as he chooses to keep making music.