Snoop Dogg - Malice in Wonderland

Posted December 14, 2009
Tags: Snoop Dogg,

We all want the next new thing. Kobe hadn’t even finished his rookie season before he was the...

Malice in Wonderland Album Review

We all want the next new thing. Kobe hadn’t even finished his rookie season before he was the next Jordan (turns out he wasn’t), and when Doritos came out with their Pizza flavor America went crazy, until a couple years passed and everyone realized the old school Nacho Cheesier were still the best. Consistency is admirable, but it’s not exciting, it’s not sexy, and so we all overhype the hot new thing and downplay what came before, a paradox that’s affected even the almighty Snoop Dogg. An astounding sixteen years after he first entered the scene, no other rapper in hip-hop history has been on top of the game for so long, but now that we’re staring 2010 in the face, that unbelievably consistent run of domination is both a blessing and a curse for the Doggfather.

In order to stay relevant Snoop has to continue to innovate, but long time fans will always demand that classic laid back flow we first heard on Gin and Juice. Caught between the past and the future, Snoop’s forced to walk an almost impossibly precarious line, a feat he accomplishes admirably on his new album Malice in Wonderland. His tenth studio album, Malice in Wonderland comes on the heels of the sometimes boldly experimental but only moderately successful Ego Trippin, so we shouldn’t be surprised that on Malice Snoop doesn’t venture into unfamiliar territory, choosing instead to rework his tried-and-trued formula while relying on guest features to keep the younger generation interested. More specifically, Malice in Wonderland is an album that contains both Crip-walking and an auto-tuned Soulja Boy. Exactly.

Snoop Dizzle is undeniably at his best on Malice when he’s by his lonesome, free to drop the kind of intensely relaxed flows that first made him famous. Just take That’s The Homie, the album’s most lyrically oriented cut, a Danja and Timbaland produced banger that features almost six minutes of Snoop’s always mellow flow and not much else. I don’t care how hard you try to restrain yourself; you’re nodding your head to this one. In terms of pure emcee ability the vicious 2 Minute Warning comes in a close second. One of the hardest tracks Snoopy’s dropped in years, 2 Minute Warning is a minimally produced cut that Snoop uses as an opportunity to remind us just how deep his resume runs: “I promise, no Shug, no Dre, I’d a did this regardless.” Mission accomplished. As powerful as these tracks are as reminders of Snoop’s undiminished mic skills, the true key to his success has always been his ability to translate those rhymes into hits; hits like I Wanna Rock. Wanna Rock is more than that new song that every rapper wants to freestyle over (I can’t blame em, that Scoop Deville and Dr. Dre beat is ill), it’s the latest testament to Snoop’s ability to transform his heavily west coasted sound into something the entire country can rock to. And with that we’ve covered every Snoop-only track on the album, meaning that, ironically, one of my biggest complaints about Malice in Wonderland is that it doesn’t contain enough Snoop.

Speaking of which, we might as well starting digging into the album’s myriad guest features, starting with the album’s lead single Gansta Luv. Featuring some trademark danceably electronic production and yet another catchy hook from The-Dream, Gangsta Luv is Malice in Wonderland’s mandatory song for the ladies, and on that level the track’s hard to hate on. The same can be said for deeply enjoyable Different Languages featuring Jazmine Sullivan and the R. Kelly collaboration Pimpin Ain’t EZ, a smoothly styled track that’s good but not nearly as great as you’d hope for from these two. Unfortunately the album’s biggest stumbles come when Snoop gives his guests too much influence, starting with the failed attempt at a club hit 1800, featuring an aggravating Lil Jon, and ending with the regrettable Pronto, a terrible track that will hopefully at least introduce Snoop to some of Soulja Boy’s fans; because if it doesn’t, then Snoop just made one of the worst songs of his career for nothing.

In the end what we need to appreciate about Malice in Wonderland is not how good it is – it’s only slightly above average for Snoop – but that sixteen years after his debut album Snoop Dogg is still putting out top-shelf albums. That kind of consistency may not be exciting, but it’s the reason Snoop will still be making hip-hop after today’s hot young rapper has faded back into obscurity. Suckas better recognize.

DJBooth Rating - 3.5 Spins

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Posted December 14, 2009
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