Snoop Dogg is a Hall of Fame rhymer who, incredibly, is criminally underappreciated. Why?
The west coast icon has consistently received props for Doggystyle and his contributions to The Chronic, and rightfully so - both of those are indisputable hip-hop classics. But for many rapfans, the feeling is that his contributions to hip-hop didn't extend any further. It’s the same type of thinking that has plagued rap for years: the classics or bust mentality. As soon as a rapper creates a once-in-a-lifetime work, we dismiss just about anything they do afterward.
To the credit of sleepers and detractors, Snoop Dogg did suffer from the much dreaded sophomore slump with The Doggfather. A second album with a drop in quality can hurt the perception of an artist even more than a debut, but Snoop has released 14 (!) solo albums and more than a half dozen collaborative albums, and rarely did he sacrifice quality for quantity.
If you’re a full album listener, there’s 2006’s Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, which is virtually perfect from top to bottom. He also made magic with Pharrell on R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece, and the pair reunited for last year’s Bush, a flawless summertime soundtrack and quietly one of the best albums of 2015.
There’s also the credit Snoop deserves for taking chances musically. He's transitioned seamlessly from working with Dr. Dre to No Limit’s Beats By The Pound to Pharrell. He took on Auto-Tune and made "Sexual Eruption" with Shawty Redd. He's made a reggae record and had a collaborative project with Dam-Funk. Snoop takes on new ideas regularly, and he has struck gold with at least one hit almost every time.
On the flipside of all the highlights there are albums that are relatively forgettable but still good enough to enjoy throughout, such as Doggumentary and Malice n Wonderland.
Snoop has never gone more than two years without releasing an album, but his music is widely disregarded in light of his pop culture persona as a fun-loving, weed-smoking reality star and children’s football coach. It seems to be a conscious decision, as TV and film are much more loyal than a fickle rap fanbase (to say nothing of his advancing age).
Maybe this is the way it should be, though. If the attention paid toward Snoop was focused on his music, would he still be as adventurous musically? Would he still be making reggae or funk albums if he didn’t already have so many other notable projects to give him that freedom?
It’s reasonable for casual and younger fans to have missed a lot of Snoop’s music, he's released a mind-boggling amount over his two decades-plus career, but anyone who considers themselves a new school hip-hop head needs to revisit his past works and better familiarize themselves with a discography that doesn't seem to get the credit it deserves.
By William E. Ketchum III, follow him at @WEKetchum
Photo Credit: Tyler Brooke