Artist: Snoop Doggy Dogg
Album: Greatest Hits
Label: Death Row Records
Rating: 4.5 / 10
Reviewer: A to the L
Remember Death Row? Remember when the Death Row roster of artists were feared not only for their ability to put a dent in other artists sales, but also for their CEO’s ability to put a dent in heads? Of course everyone knows the story, and everyone has heard the different versions, but what it really boils down to is this – Death Row were at one time THE premier Hiphop label. They celebrated phenomenal sales which brought in phenomenal amounts of money. Somewhere along the line, the division of the money became a sore point, and first Dr. Dre bounced to set up Aftermath. Shortly after, Snoop Doggy Dogg, left for the fresh pastures of No Limit Records, shortening his name to Snoop Dogg in the process. In the meantime, 2pac was murdered, and Suge Knight, Death Row’s CEO, was locked up for parole violation. The empire crumbled…
Fast forward to the year 2001, to find that Suge Knight is back on the scene, and intent on making green. Still not happy with the way events were handled in his absence, he has picked up where he left off, dissing those who crossed him (and some who didn’t). Unfortunately when Dre and Snoop (and the Dogg Pound) left Death Row, the lion’s share of the creative talent went with them. Filling the gaps, Death Row released a couple of sloppy compilations, some of 2pac’s back catalogue, and some of Dre’s greatest hits to try to bring the ailing label back onto a level footing. As previously mentioned, Suge doesn’t like to be crossed – but he doesn’t always hurt people physically. Sometimes he finds other places to hurt them – like in the wallet. Take the example of Dre who trumpeted the release of his “Chronic 2000” album, only to find that Death Row had beat him to the punch by releasing a weak compilation of the same name, and forcing Dre to move his title up by a year. When Snoop’s “Last Meal” album was due to drop, Death Row offered the whole thing as a free download from their site, so that heads could check it against their rival Snoop release of back catalogue material “Dead Man Walkin'”.
Now we have another Death Row Snoop release – this one a “greatest hits” package. One problem though – how can you focus on an artist’s greatest hits when you only own rights to two of his albums? (“Dead Man Walkin'” is fairly weak reject stuff after all.) Death Row have got around this by promising 8 new tracks to sit alongside the classic material from “Doggy Style”, “The Doggfather”, and Dre’s “The Chronic”, as well as the not-so-classic “DMW”.
Things start well with the world famous ‘Nuthin’ But A G Thang’. No real need to comment on this – if you aint heard it you must have had your head buried for the last 9 years. It soon becomes clear what the tracklist-planner’s ingenious idea is however, as the funky but average ‘Head Doctor’ from “DMW” is followed by the superb summer anthem ‘Gin & Juice’. Basically they’ve ordered the tracks so that a classic is followed by a weaker “new” cut. There are two ways of looking at this method – the listener could be so taken with the dope cuts that they’re willing to sit through the weaker cuts to hear the next classic. Alternatively, and much more likely, is the fact that almost everyone will already have heard the classics, and their presence on the compilation simply shows how bad the other “newer” material really is.
Thus the horrible Timbaland remix of ‘Doggfather’, the boring ‘Midnight Love’ and the stunningly average ‘Eastside’ are sandwiched on one side by the classic dark moods of the ‘Murder Was The Case’ remix and the bouncy ‘Ain’t No Fun’, and on the other by the Atomic Dog remake of ‘What’s My Name’ and the fabulously pimpish ‘Doggy Dogg World’.
The last quarter on the album is especially poor. ‘Too High’ tries to come off as another chapter in the Dogg Pound’s ‘Big Pimpin’ saga, but suffers from a uninteresting beat and an almost bored Snoop. The remake of Biz Markie’s ‘Vapors’ was bad enough on the second album, and really shouldn’t have resurfaced here. ‘Usual Suspects’ uses a hybrid version of NWA’s ‘Prelude’ – its not BAD, but its not what I would call a “greatest hit”. The tepid production on ‘Keep It Real’ and the absolutely unnecessary rock remix of ‘Snoop Bounce’ wrap things up.
Conclusion? A tough call – if this was a debut release it would probably score quite highly because of the strong classic cuts on here, but every self-respecting Hiphop fan should already have them all – “The Chronic” and “Doggy Style” are simply must-haves. However, the “new” material is at best average, and at worst horrible, and doesn’t really merit inclusion on a greatest hits package. Obviously Death Row didn’t have much to work with – put too many hits from “Doggy Style” or “The Chronic” on here, and you may as well have just reissued the two albums (which they HAVE done anyway). On the other hand if this does’t have the well known cuts on then you lose the selling point of having the classics all in once place. However, even with this problem – where was ‘Deep Cover’? Where was ‘Bitches Ain’t Shit?’ If the problem was jacking too much from “The Chronic” and “Doggy Style” then why not throw on some of the soundtrack cuts from “Murder Was The Case” or “Gridloc’d”?
Therefore bearing in mind that most people will have the “greatest hits” of Snoop already in their record collection, there’s no real reason to pick this up. Sorry Suge.