Love him or hate him, over the past two decades of his innocuous career, Snoop Dogg has become an undeniable icon of the urban scene. Since his start 23 years back, the Dogg’s gone 6x platinum with debut album Doggystyle (now on anyone with a heartbeat’s list of essential hip-hop records), reggae with the stylings of Snoop Lion, R&B, and even k-pop with “Gangnam Style”-infamous PSY on “Hangover”. The one string of similarity that brings all of these various releases throughout the years onto the same singular rung comes in one simple statement: Snoop’s done it all justice. While finding varying degrees of success with his miscellaneous side projects, one can’t slight the guy for always discovering new avenues for his musicality and image to grow with each passing era, and now he’s banking on another area of expertise to dazzle listeners in the form of 1970s-style funk and soul.
Recruiting long-time industry collaborator Pharrell (“Drop It Like It’s Hot”) on board to run the production of the album, alongside additional assistance from Chad Hugo, the three strived to devise a record primarily dedicated to the ’70s sound that they had grown up with throughout their childhoods. The brainchild of this collective thinking process is Bush, and for the most part, it succeeds in its primary goals of developing a soundscape reminiscent of the hip-hop of decades gone past. Production is smooth and sultry from top to finish, with Snoop bringing a solid game to the table as he raps and sings across the ten tracks of which the album is comprised. Occasionally, Pharrell and company tend to get a little overzealous with the production of Snoop’s voice; he might not be the best singer, but he can handle a melody in his own individual way, and the overuse of vocal synthesizers tend to, at times, take away from that fact.
Where Snoop shines, he does so with the same relative ease one would expect out of an individual who’s marked his name on the map as many times over as he has, such as on the breezy opener “California Roll”, easily one of Bush‘s best. Featuring the slick caterwaul of Stevie Wonder’s trademark harmonica right out of the gate, “California Roll” establishes the mood of the record in its entirety astoundingly well within its four minutes and twelve seconds. Newly-endowed soul man Pharrell manages to work the song’s hook with infectious charisma while Snoop eases into the track with an astoundingly persuasive croon. Debut single “Peaches N Cream” is another keeper, featuring an a retro club-style beat and hook, with Charlie Wilson and Snoop Dogg feeding off of each other’s energy for one of Snoop’s most instantly catchy releases in quite a while. Elsewhere, modern hip-hop icons Kendrick Lamar and Rick Ross join Snoop for electro-hop “I’m Ya Dogg”, closing the album on a high note.
Snoop Dogg has long been considered hip-hop royalty, and Bush has its part in further solidifying his image in the modern music industry. In his 40s, Snoop hasn’t slowed down in terms of musical output and the tenacity behind his delivery, and even though his latest tunes are intentionally old school, they feel like yet another natural extension of the Dogg as he pays homage to the music that made him. Occasional vocal overproduction keep Bush from being an absolute home run, but it’s too much of a catchy, feel-good record to really slight. All in all, Bush is another consistent release from Snoop to add to his portfolio, with enough freshness to still be spinning his name in the clubs.