I forgot where and when, but Snoop Dogg has said that he would have been making funk music had he been born in another time. His love for funk and R&B has been demonstrated clearly since the beginning of his career, so detours like the songs Beautiful and Sexual Eruption, and now this album, BUSH, should be of no surprise to those who’ve paid attention to him.
What’s surprising about BUSH is that it doesn’t at all sound like the funk that inspires Snoop. Being totally produced by Pharrell Williams, it sounds much more like outtakes from the William’s last album, G I R L, than it does anything by Bootsy Collins. (And both albums’ names are one word in all caps, so clearly there’s a conspiracy going on here…) Pharrell’s version of R&B, as shown here and in his solo music, is very fun, upbeat, full of obviously synthesized instruments, and this wouldn’t be a bad choice for Snoop, if Pharrell hadn’t just better performed this style on his own album. The beats on BUSH are a lot less catchy and they can sound extremely similar to each other (a frequent personal criticism I have of Pharrell’s music). This is especially evident when comparing R U A Freak? to This City, two songs which were very mistakenly put next to each other. Elsewhere, the songs are pretty ok individually, but still melt together during any sustained listening.
Snoop’s singing is also just ok, maybe even inoffensive. He sings on every song, most of which are about women, and only raps a few mediocre verses throughout the entire album. I know not to expect vocal acrobatics here, but that makes the beats’ failure to incite interest all the more troublesome, because then nothing about these songs is compelling. That said, the only bad song is Run Away, which features Gwen Stefani, mainly because I don’t like her voice.
The best songs are Edibles with T.I. and I’m Ya Dogg with Kendrick Lamar and Rick Ross, because these beats do a bit more than the rest of the album, and the feature verses are pretty good. But even these songs are far from spectacular.
Overall, BUSH just doesn’t break any new artistic ground. It doesn’t do anything out of the ordinary besides being an album where Snoop sings every song. Everything about this record, from the lyrics to the instrumentals and vocal sounds, is ho-hum. Despite his funk hero-worship, Snoop’s own singing ventures have lately chased current sounds much more than I’d like. Instead, I’d love to hear him attempt an album that wears the 70s inspiration on its sleeve, as I’m sure it would sound miles more authentic than BUSH.