Snoop Dogg’s been in the game for a minute -seventeen years since his debut on Dr. Dre’s legendary The Chronic, Snoop remains a pop icon and more relevant than ever. Endorsing everything from gum to dog toys, and recently lending his voice to a GPS system, Snoop has become one of Hip Hop’s most prominent business moguls, but how does his music fare? While I wasn’t feeling Snoop’s experimental sound on last year’s Ego Trippin’, I thought his previous effort The Blue Carpet Treatment was one of 2006’s best albums. Malice N Wonderland seems to pick up where Blue Carpet left off in many respects, but also has some of same commercial appeal as Ego Trippin’.
The Scoop Deville crafted “I Wanna Rock” has all the appeal of a classic West Coast anthem. From the heavy bass, the chants of “Snoop Dogg,” to the laidback emcee letting us know “Long Beach with me,” the lead single is a true attest to Snoop managing to maintain his skill after nearly twenty years. On “2 Minute Warning,” Snoop goes all in. From the gate the Doggfather unleashes bars like, “sometimes I feel lost like a runaway, read over the diary while I stay getting richer than Pryor/need to put the gun away ’cause I’ve got priors/it hard to stay rolling when the world’s full of liars.” This track compliments the album well despite its length. It demonstrates Snoop’s consistent flow and lets the audience know this album is far from the “Sexual Eruption” Snoop, more of the “Deep Cover” Dogg we all know.
Snoop attempts to craft a club-anthem on behalf of Lil John on “1800.” Although the beat is pretty basic in comparison to some of Lil John’s other productions, Snoop rides it with perfection in his tribute to the tequila. “Different Languages” has the appeal of “Beautiful” to it with a feel-good production. Jazmine Sullivan’s vocals fit perfectly over this instrumental as well.
The album gets a little off track on “Gangsta Luv” featuring The Dream. The song has “radio single” written all over it. Unsurprisingly Snoop can take a pop track and make it worth listening to, which ability is rarely found in rappers these days. The same can’t be said for “Luv Drunk” featuring The Dream which is just overly cliché. It seems like the Malice title is justified when Soulja Boy’s unimpressive auto-tune crooning graces “Pronto.” Although Snoop holds it down the best he can, this is definitely the album’s low point.
“That’s Tha Homie” gets the album back into gear. Although this isn’t his most striking effort, Snoop consistently rides the beat while bragging about his connects all over the world. Snoop welcomes some of his younger homies on “Upside Down” with Nipsey Hu$$le and Problem. Each emcee gets it in on this joint, but the production and chorus aren’t that notable. Nipsey drops a nice verse at the end on the track, but overall Snoop and Nipsey can definitely cook up something better. Battlecat offers a beautiful production on “Secrets,” which is an interesting track. The hook is Kokane singing The Romantics “Talking in Your Sleep.” Of course Snoop comes correct and blesses this beat. R. Kelley’s presence on “Pimpin’ Ain’t EZ” makes it a straight jam. Malice N Wonderland closes on a good note with Brandy and Pharrell chiming in over “Special,” one of those few Snoop love songs.
Malice N Wonderland serves as a reminder to many that Snoop Dogg is one of the most consistent artists in the game. Although he might stray from making exclusively gangsta rap, he knows when he has to prove himself and silence his critics. Malice N Wonderland definitely isn’t the best Snoop Dogg album by any means, but it’s a welcome addition for any Snoop fan.