Artist: Snoop Dogg
Album: Paid The Cost To Be The Boss
Rating: 7 / 10
The story of a certain Snoop Dogg is one of the saddest tales in hip-hop. His performances on €œDeep Cover €, €œThe Chronic €, not to mention his legendary, classic solo debut album €œDoggystyle €, propelled a young Calvin Broadus to the very summit of the rap game. But, of course, the bigger they are, the harder they fall. Snoop is the epitome of this curse. He lost the aid of his long-time collaborating goliath Dr. Dre, and he saw the record label he had helped build, Death Row Records, slowly sink. He released a true crime of an album, 1998 €™s disaster €œDa Game is to be Sold not Told €. He was criticised heavily for falling-off completely, losing that old Snoop flow, and becoming redundant as an artist. To cut a long story short, Snoop has seen it all. His latest attempt at a comeback album, 2001 €™s €œThe Last Meal €, was received generally well but I wasn €™t impressed. At all.
Snoop Dogg has somewhat overhauled his approach to hip-hop with his latest crack of the comeback whip €œPaid the Cost to be Da Boss €. As a lyricist Snoop Dogg fell off a long time ago, which was obvious to everyone apart from (as it would seem) Snoop. He tried too hard to be something he wasn’t with past releases. But this time, it seems, he has learnt from his mistakes. Most of the best moments of Snoop €™s sixth full-length album are the slow ones. ‘Believe In You € is a mellow, relaxed jam with soulful vocals from affiliate LaToiya Williams and chilled-out rhyming from Tha Dogg Father. It is funny saying this, but few other rappers could make ‘Ballin €™ work. Soul positively invades this song, and fans of ‘Doggy Dogg World’) will be delighted to hear The Dramatics joining up with Snoop again, lending a magnificent hook to Battlecat €™s funky beat. While these tracks are excellent in their ways, if you listen to them expecting raw street-lyricism, then you’re not gonna like this album. Snoop has wisely abandoned this futile course of action, and mellowed, chilled and become more relaxed.
You see, at the age of 30 Snoop is no longer a young ‘un in the game. He’s a veteran who has been through the thick and the thin and who doesn’t need to be something hip-hop purists want him to be anymore. €œStoplight € is a return to a classic Snoop style – Fredwreck €™s bouncy, pulsating synthesized beat blends with Snoop’s distinctive voclas as he gallops lazily through witty braggadocio reminiscent of €œG €™z and Hustlas €. Elsewhere, €œBatman & Robin € is a track that I think all hip-hop fans will champion. DJ Premier obviously interpolates the Batman theme for the beat, which adds some crazily cool comic-book atmosphere to proceedings, but what really whets the appetite are the appearances from Lady of Rage and RBX. Two talented figures from Snoop €™s past, Rage and Snoop tag-team throughout bringing back images of €œG-Funk Intro €, and RBX adds his great growling voice to the hook. These tracks seem to effortlessly return to Snoop’s golden years, with little of the forced, calculated nature of recent efforts.
Considering Snoop in recent years has become synonymous with filler, €œPaid the Cost to be Da Boss € has remarkably little, especially considering the length of the album. The Neptunes produced ‘Wasn €™t Your Fault’ is definitely below-average and the title track €œPaid Da Cost to be Da Boss € is definitely one of the wackest cuts of the year (and also put me off The Neptunes for life). Asides from a disappointing absence of Dr. Dre beats (Snoop and Dre have always been a great duo) and these slight disappointments, I can find few major faults with this LP. Which I like.
Whatever the status of Snoop €™s position with the critics, however, he is still one of the biggest figures in the rap game. €œPaid the Cost € has enough heavy-hitters gracing it to shame a Funkmaster Flex mixtape. Jay-Z drops by on the tongue-in-cheek ‘Lollipop’, alongside Dogghouse stalwarts Soopafly and Nate Dogg. This is an old-fashioned humorous Westcoast pimp song with a quirky, cheeky Jellyroll flute-based beat and falsetto-style chorus lending a relaxed atmosphere. ‘From Long Beach 2 Brick City’ has a typically insane performance from New Jersey luminary Redman, and ‘You Got What I Want’ features stellar guests in the form of Dirty South rapper Ludacris and Eastsidaz member Goldie Loc.
Adding to his already impressive track, DJ Premier has another dose of his magic for ‘The One And Only’. With a dope jangling guitar-based bassline as well as a cool scratched chorus (a requisite for a Primo song), Primo €™s beat actually suits Snoop wonderfully, and the Long Beach rapper doesn €™t disappoint. His lyrics are vaguely autobiographical, and deal with his rise to the top, the obstacles he’s faced in his career, and general thoughts about his life: “Ain’t no more Calvin Broadus/ world on my shoulders/ But I can handle it/ Now that I’m older, I’m sharper/ can you remember when I slid in on Deep Cover?” Great introspective mind-set in this song, and as a result my favourite cut.
And Snoop is definitely out to try and reaffirm his position as one of hip-hop €™s relevant and main players. The spoken interlude ‘A Message 2 Fat Cuzz’ is obviously addressing Snoop’s nemesis Suge Knight, which he then expands on in ‘Pimp Slapp’d’. This diss song circled around the net a few weeks back, and it is Snoop €™s response to much of the controversy surrounding Tha Row and Snoop. He calls out Suge repeatedly, not to mention popping off minor shots at Kurupt and Xzibit: “Cos I’ll fuck every last one of them up/ Especially Kurupt/ now that’s my lil’ homie, see he knows what’s up” and “I’m not Xzibit, you can’t pull my hoe card”. Here the emcee in Snoop resurfaces – he sounds lean and focused throwing barbs at the aforementioned rivals. Rumour has it Suge even paid a visit to Priority Records to try and get this track removed from the album; a move which thankfully didn €™t work.
After the minor disaster that was €œTha Last Meal €, I €™m glad to report that €œPaid the Cost to be Da Boss € is certainly an above average 2002 release. Obviously, it ain’t no “Doggystyle”, and it isn’t probably even “Tha Dogg Father”, but it is Snoop’s best effort for a long time. Which is saying something.