Deep Album Cuts Vol. 39: Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg is easy to take for granted. The Chronic and Doggystyle were like somebody winning the Super Bowl in their rookie year, and it's hard to go anywhere but down from that. For a while, it felt like he did lose his way pretty quickly -- he was too big to fail on Tha Doggfather, but having to make it without Dr. Dre all but ensured a sophomore slump. Hopping to No Limit was a shrewd survival method to get away from the sinking Death Row ship, and in retrospect it's probably what saved his career and allowed him to still be a star today. But at the time, it just seemed like the west coast's biggest rapper was jumping on the southern bandwagon and switching his style up.

But even as Doggystyle looms over his career, Snoop has been impressively resilient. Doing TV and movies and guesting on pop records for Katy Perry and others has helped him transcend rap to just become an avuncular hip hop celebrity almost completely apart from his solo career. But he released 7 albums after Doggystyle that went platinum or better, which is a pretty long tail, far better than other rappers who started their career with a blockbuster debut and then slid from prominence like 50 Cent or Nelly. And even if none of them are classics, a lot of them are better than their rep suggests.

Snoop Dogg Deep Album Cuts (Spotify playlist): 

1. Gs And Hustlas featuring Nanci Fletcher
2. Ain't No Fun (If The Homies Can't Have None) featuring Nate Dogg, Warren G, Kurupt and Nanci Fletcher
3. Tha Shiznit
4. Serial Killa featuring The D.O.C., RBX and Tha Dogg Pound
5. Freestyle Conversation
6. Snoop Bounce featuring Charlie Wilson
7. Snoop World featuring Master P
8. Game Of Life featuring Steady Mobb'n
9. Buck 'Em featuring Sticky Fingaz
10. Buss'n Rocks
11. Set It Off featuring MC Ren, The Lady Of Rage, Ice Cube, Nate Dogg and Kurupt
12. The One And Only
13. The Bidness
14. Crazy featuring Nate Dogg
15. 10 Lil' Crips
16. Press Play featuring Kurupt
17. SD Is Out featuring Charlie Wilson
18. 2 Minute Warning
19. Pimpin' Ain't EZ featuring R. Kelly
20. The Way Life Used To Be

Tracks 1, 2, 3 and 4 from Doggystyle (1993)
Tracks 5 and 6 from Tha Doggfather (1996)
Tracks 7 and 8  from Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told (1998)
Tracks 9 and 10 from No Limit Top Dogg (1999)
Track 11 from Tha Last Meal (2000)
Track 12 from Paid Tha Cost To Be Da Boss (2002)
Track 13 from R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece (2004)
Tracks 14 and 15 from Tha Blue Carpet Treatment (2006)
Tracks 16 and 17 from Ego Trippin' (2008)
Tracks 18 and 19 from Malice n Wonderland (2009)
Track 20 from Doggumentary (2011)

Snoop's discography is messy, in every sense. He hopped around different labels, worked with vastly different producers to keep up with the times, and did genre exercise albums as 'Snoop Lion' and 'Snoopzilla' that I won't even try to cover here. He has an album with both "tha" and "da" in the title, for no apparent reason. But the up-for-anything attitude that's defined his post-Death Row career makes for a pretty entertaining and wide ranging catalog.

I like Snoop's new album Bush because it's so cohesive, 10 songs with Pharrell all mining the same basic sound. But what made trawling through his back catalog enjoyable is that most of his albums are all over the place, and never quite what you expect. The No Limit albums don't all sound like No Limit beats, he's worked frequent collaborators like Charlie Wilson and Kurupt into all sorts of tracks over the years. "The One And Only" is way better than I ever would've expected from Snoop and DJ Premier collaborating well past their respective primes.

Some of these songs are more interesting than great. "Freestyle Conversation" is the bizarre flow experiment on Tha Doggfather that begins with Snoop being asked if his beats will be "delicate" without Dre and defensively responding "I don't give a fuck about no beat." It's also weird to hear a sample of Ma$e's voice on "Snoop Bounce" from late '96, at the height of Death Row/Bad Boy tensions. But a lot of these tracks are just great and show that Snoop had a strong sense of his sound with or without Dre and Death Row. There were long stretches of his career when he was pretty much the only west coast rapper making music at the level he was, and it feels like he took that seriously and never stopped updating the G-funk sound, even as he messed with the Neptunes or whoever to keep afloat.

Previous playlists in the Deep Album Cuts series:
Vol. 1: Brandy
Vol. 2: Whitney Houston
Vol. 3: Madonna
Vol. 4: My Chemical Romance
Vol. 5: Brad Paisley
Vol. 6: George Jones
Vol. 7: The Doors
Vol. 8: Jay-Z
Vol. 9: Robin Thicke
Vol. 10: R. Kelly
Vol. 11: Fall Out Boy
Vol. 12: TLC
Vol. 13: Pink
Vol. 14: Queen
Vol. 15: Steely Dan
Vol. 16: Trick Daddy
Vol. 17: Paramore
Vol. 18: Elton John
Vol. 19: Missy Elliott
Vol. 20: Mariah Carey
Vol. 21: The Pretenders
Vol. 22: "Weird Al" Yankovic
Vol. 23: Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
Vol. 24: Foo Fighters
Vol. 25: Counting Crows
Vol. 26: T.I.
Vol. 27: Jackson Browne
Vol. 28: Usher
Vol. 29: Mary J. Blige
Vol. 30: The Black Crowes
Vol. 31: Ne-Yo
Vol. 32: Blink-182
Vol. 33: One Direction
Vol. 34: Kelly Clarkson
Vol. 35: The B-52's
Vol. 36: Ludacris
Vol. 37: They Might Be Giants
Vol. 38: T-Pain
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