The “Doggfather” of West Coast rap has had a busy 2004 so far with the reunited 213 releasing The Hard Way and the underwhelming Welcome To Tha Chuuch Vol 1. R&G certainly sets out its aims from the title Tha Masterpiece, which is as modest a title you’re likely to get from an “old G” like Snoop.
The album begins with exactly the type of track you would expect from a mature Snoop Dogg with its content seemingly following the trend of autobiographical lyrics. It is just a little on the arrogant side with Snoop declaring himself as a modern-day John The Baptist. It almost works, given the gospel feel to I Love To Give You Light.
The first noteworthy track on R&G, Drop It Like It’s Hot, is a real grower. It’s helped no end by producers The Neptunes (as N.E.R.D.‘s Pharrell Williams and Chad Hugo are also known as) returning to their grinding bass-lines, creating a dark vibe but one suited to the chilled out West Coast. Although it may not be as aggressive as N.E.R.D’s Lap Dance it has a definite gangster feel with more than a few mentions of guns and specifically the notorious Crips.
You then get the feeling with Can I Get A Flicc Withcu and Ups And Downs that the album is going to descend into the average of, frankly, most of Snoop’s solo releases. The Bidness does a job of calming those fears with its dangerously uplifting and funky beat.
Snoop D.O.Double G is another decent track oozing in feelgood factor but it only really works on an aesthetic level because there’s no depth to the simplistic lyrics. Step Yo Game Up is quite a fitting title for the song that does bring the album up a level. Fair enough it is more self-indulgence with more than a sprinkle of misogyny, but musically, it’s a definite head-banger of a track.
Perfect is labelled as Beautiful Part II, but that would be an insult to Beautiful, which was a hip-hop/ R&B crossover track that puts Perfect to shame. It’s a bad chat up line in song form: “When God made you I wonder if he kept the mould”. Cringeworthy. On the plus side, it’s a brief slap in the face for all those who claim rap is all about demeaning women. However, with tracks like Fresh Pair Of Panties on and Can U Control Ya Hoe the case for the defence is small.
Oh No is the blatant stand-out track of Tha Masterpiece. The excerpt from Samuel L Jackson’s Pulp Fiction character sets the expectation high and the 50 Cent-backed track doesn’t fail to deliver. The dark feel is much more suited to a winter release, and this track is one of few examples of gangsta that the album delivers.
Justin Timberlake helps the infectious Signs, but the track seems to be out of place on the album. It’s definitely got a retro vibe and I can see it getting people moving on dance floors but as Nelly and Christina Aguilera‘s Tilt Ya Head Back proves, two superstars on one track isn’t always the formula for success.
It’s really no great shame when the album ends, and you can’t help feeling short-changed. Admittedly this isn’t the worst album I’ve ever listened to, but it’s just a really disappointing offering with only two or three noteworthy tracks. Advertising standards should investigate the title for false advertising.