When Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr., a.k.a Snoop Dogg, premiered as a feature on Dr. Dre’s breakout solo album, ‘The Chronic’, nobody knew who he would become. Since that day, Snoop has dropped 15 studio albums, experimented with several different styles and genres of music, won countless awards, become an icon for many different things, and through it all, he has never left that rap game. This feat was the inspiration behind his latest album, ‘Neva Left’, which was released May 19.
Early in his career, Snoop Dogg started his career as one of the more prolific west coast ‘gangster’ rappers. Along his side were other familiar names such as: Tupac, Ice Cube, Nate Dogg, Warren G, and of course Dr. Dre. At the time of Snoop’s start, the rap group N.W.A had gained attention from across the globe. Most of the rappers he associated himself with were all members of Death Row Records, a record company founded by Dr. Dre & Suge Knight specifically specialising in rap artists. The name of the label is a good indication that trouble was never far behind these members. Before and during the time he was writing his breakout album Doggystyle in the early 1990’s, Snoop Dogg was in and out of prison for charges such as possession of drugs with intent to sell and illegal weapons possession.
In April of 2013, Snoop released his 12th studio album, except this one was different from all of the others that came before it. For one, it was a Reggae album. And secondly, he changed his prevailing rap alias, Snoop Dogg, to Snoop Lion. All of these changes, you’d think he had gone through an epiphany. Well, that is actually exactly what happened. During a two month trip to Jamaica in 2012, Snoop began practicing the rastafarian religion while traveling all across the tropical caribbean island. During this spiritual journey Snoop Lion wrote and recorded the album Reincarnated. The release of the album doubled with the release of a documentary also titled Reincarnated. It captured all of the best life changing realizations that occurred on this 60-day pilgrimage.
Eventually the artist of multiple genres returned to the beloved name, Snoop Dogg. Since the switch back, the musical mogul has released three more albums, the newest of them being Neva Left, which was released May 19th. Noticeably obvious from the title of this new tracklist, Neva Left is all about Snoop and his immortal life in the rap game. This album is all about a throwback to the classic rap style that Snoop and his colleagues from compton began with way back in the late 80’s. The first song on the album, also titled “Neva Left,” speaks about how some people may have thought that his last album, Coolaid, was a comeback for the vintage rapper. This song reminds anyone who believes this that he has never left, therefore a “comeback” is simply impossible.
Although his first album, Doggystyle, was in-fact released in 1993, Snoop Dogg has more albums released in the current millennium, with a ratio of about one album per 1.5 years. Many of his most acclaimed and beloved albums have come within the past five years, including the already mentioned ‘Reincarnated and Coolaid. It would be hard to compare Neva Left to previous albums such as Bush, which is a disco/funk album, or Reincarnated, which as noted earlier is a reggae album. Yet it can be compared to all of his other albums, which are almost entirely rap, other than a few choice songs. And although this new album does relate mostly to his retro albums from his early career, it is never hard to find similarities in any of Snoop’s songs, as they all have a familiar and similar sound to them.
During the album, Snoop Dogg calls on other current rappers, such as Drake or Lil Yachty, stressing not to forget who started it all. To show respect to the fathers of rap, all while insulting their current music being released. He speaks of them becoming lazy with rap, which is evident in the popular artists such as Future or Young Thug, who have created a subgenre of rap, dubbed “slur rap”, which is literally just gibberish ramblings, where the listener can understand every other 10th word spoken (at its best).
But the album isn’t all about hate for the less fortunate artists; it’s also about creating new songs with the same beloved lyricists from the beginning of rap, such as KRS-One, Method Man, Redman and B-Real. You can see this in songs such as “Mount K***more” or “Let Us Begin”. Since the album’s general message was to show that Snoop is still here and releasing good music, these features are crucial to the albums legitimacy.
Neva Left as an album would fail to disappoint even the stingiest of rap critics. Not just the content, but the nostalgia of it all is truly phenomenal. From the Doggystyle era album cover, to the throwback voices of Snoop himself and KRS-One, it is truly a blast to the past. But the most important thing to remember while listening to this album, is that Big Snoop Dogg has not, and never will, leave the rap game.
Overall, I rate this album 4 out of 5 stars
**WARNING: This album contains explicit language that may not be suitable for younger audiences
–BY ROBERT MAYFIELD