Let’s be honest: Snoop Dogg hasn’t put out a brilliant album since Tha Doggfather.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing. For an artist who’s transcended music and become a cultural icon, it makes sense that he would choose to spend more time on narrating National Geographic documentaries and appearing on talk and game shows than writing rhymes in a studio. It also makes sense that — as a man who has already penned a number of classic hip-hop albums in the earlier part of his career — that he would choose to experiment and try new things, like the funk and disco on last year’s album Bush. Add to this his laid-back persona, and what you get is an emcee that has the potential to create another classic but hasn’t capitalized on it, and it shows on Coolaid.
One wouldn’t realize this, however, by only listening to the first few songs. Even though Snoop’s “Legend” is a blatant rip-off of Drake’s “Legend” (complete with a gigantic trap beat and thick bass), he is right in claiming, “Even if I die I’m a legend”. It’s certainly one of the few times that the Californian has sounded aggressive behind a microphone, and it continues on the hook-heavy G-Funk banger ‘Ten Toes Down”. And, with the exception of the instrumental on “Super Crip” — which makes the song sound like Snoop hopped on Iggy Azalea’s “Fancy” single — the next three tracks are colorful, G-Funk hits with solid verses and stellar hooks.
This string of groovy tracks also closes out the album exceedingly well. The lead single “Kush Ups” features Snoop and his prodigy, Wiz Khalifa, rapping over a beat that sounds like it stole its melody from a Turkish bathhouse, and is as fun as it is exotic. “Got Those” and “Let the Beat Drop (Celebrate)” also have great instrumentals with even better hooks, “What If” is classic G-Funk through and through, and “Revolution” even shows Snoop Dogg dipping his toes into political waters as he quotes Gil Scott-Heron’s “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised”. This last third of the album isn’t just G-Funk, but also a bit of exploration for the Long Beach rapper, and he navigates these unknown waters better than expected.
Had it just been these tracks, Coolaid would have been a worthy return to form for the Californian rapper, but the music sadly takes a nosedive in the middle of the album. Most of them are generic, unnecessary and simply bad songs, such as “Double Tap” and “My Carz”, but they all suffer from forgettable verses as well as lackluster and overproduced instrumentals. A song like “Light It Up” will be forgotten (and for good reason) in a few months, while “Side Piece” is nothing more than an over bloated sex anthem. I don’t know whether it was Snoop’s inability to kill his darlings, or whether he truly thought that these were quality songs; either way, they have no reason being in an album with Snoop Dogg’s name on it.
It would be wrong to say that Coolaid is some of Snoop Dogg’s best work, but it’s nothing to slouch at either. Buried within the filler, cringe worthy hooks, and recycled verses are quite a handful of amazing G-Funk throwbacks ripe for the picking. The Long Beach rapper hasn’t evolved much from his early years, but that lack of development is negligible when he does the West Coast sound so much justice. As a lifelong fan, I pray for the day when Snoop Dogg will finally realize this, but until then Coolaid is good enough to hold me over.