Snoop Dogg – Doggumentary

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It would almost be too kind to say that Snoop Dogg has been sleep walking through his career of late. The once contentious west coast megastar has, for lack of a better pun, been neutered by age and fame, his previously towering presence becoming something of a shadow to the Snoop™ media empire of movies and reality TV shows, izzle suffixes, and autotune radio-pop punch-lines.

But though Snoop’s bite has softened in recent years, his bark has been well worn with the Dee Oh Double Gee releasing frequent solo LPs, not to mention the obligatory feature rap he knocks out weekly. However his 2009 effort, the absurdly titled Malice ‘n Wonderland, marked a commercial nadir for Snoop, landing on the charts as his lowest selling release ever, a worrying honour for any rapper pushing 40 as Snoop now is. And so less than 18 months later Snoop is back with his latest LP, Doggumentary, aiming to reclaim some of his pulling power.

As it happens the threat of irrelevance is a great motivating tool for rappers, as Doggumentary turns out to be a really solid offering from Snoop, with a logic that contradicts the album’s overblown 20+ tracklist with features galore. What’s more the ‘Dogg sounds re-energised on Doggumentary, proving his staying power with instantly likable track selections and that still-smooth flow, and that fire in the belly seemingly ignites his guests to peak performance with the assembled masses of producers and vocalists like Kanye West, John Legend, Devin The Dude, DJ Khalil and T-Pain bringing their A-game to the table. The latter vocoder tragic features on album standout Boom, the album’s second single that squiggles along with thudding drums and squiggly Yazoo samples. It’s a far more successful attempt at club-rap than Snoop’s recent feature on Ian Carey’s intolerable Last Night and also a ringing endorsement for Scott Storch’s exhumed production gifts.

While just four of the 21 tracks here see Snoop without the company of a featured artist, he shows he’s a malleable MC in any environment, whether it’s the downbeat hood tribute My Own Way, if he’s getting weird with Gorillaz on the disjointed tropical funk cut Sumthin Like This Night, or if he’s playing pimp with R. Kelly on Platinum. What’s most impressive about the contributing talent pool is its surprising diversity; though there are some obvious attention grabbers present including Wiz Khalifa and David Guetta for the plain-awful bonus track Sweat, Snoop doesn’t pander to of-the-moment heat (all the time), instead recruiting veterans like E-40, Bootsy Collins and Too $hort to add some journeyman esteem to highlight tracks like We Rest In Cali and Toyz N Da Hood.

Snoop’s collaborative bent occasionally get the best of him – as can be heard on the Willie Nelson assisted porch-swing cut Superman – and his rotating cast of artists on call prevent Doggumentary from ever achieving any lasting coherence, but other than the album sounds like Snoop Dogg stirring from his slumber, no longer as content to rest on his laurels.

Doggumentary is out now through EMI.