It’s 2015, the year that Snoop Dogg returns to the stage with Bush. We won’t bore you with the yawn-inducing history of Snoop’s personae (whatever happened to Snoop Lion?), just know that this latest incarnation sees him reunite with Drop It Like It’s Hot hitmakers The Neptunes (aka Pharrell Williams & Chad Hugo) who have handled production on the entire album.
Bush is a surprise for many reasons, not least because Snoop barely features on it. Sure, his voice is supposed to be on the album, but various uncredited backing vocalists drown out Snoop on literally every track. This is by no means a bad thing; in fact, it gives us the feeling that Snoop’s created his own super group. Can’t hit a high note? Get Charlie Wilson to sing it. Can’t sound sexy? Get Pharrell to back you up. You get the idea.
Bush’s main strengths lie in it’s uniqueness. Half 70s throwback, half future-soul, and 100% not a rap album. Opener California Roll leads us into the album with laid back guitar, sweeping strings and Stevie Wonder joining Pharrell to say Los Angeles over and over again. It’s an impressive combination but ultimately underwhelming.
This City finds Snoop crooning playfully over a laid-back electronic East Coast bed. Could this be Snoop’s 2015 equivalent to his mega hit Signs? Probably not, but it’s an infinitely catchy pop banger and a clear album highlight.
R U A Freak is a male/female duet with dubious lyrics (“She’s DTF/ ’cause she’s down to feel”) that are luckily saved by a catchy melody and spaced-out synthesisers. This disparity between production and lyrics seems to be a theme throughout the album, but luckily, as with this track, the production is enough to distract from the cheesy one-liners.
Another album highlight finds Gwen Stefani crafting her finest pop moment since Sweet Escape on the similarly-titled Run Away, where she trades verses alongside The Doggfather over a beat that was surely made for Kelis.
Despite its puerile title, Bush is an album that redefines Snoop as female-friendly a pop artist. Around 70% of the album has him duetting with backing vocalist Rhea Dummett and his misogynistic lyrics are a thing of the past. Ultimately the chilled-out grooves, syncopated rhythms and weed rhymes throughout the album somehow hark back to his early days and brings them into a new context for what might be Snoop’s finest project in a decade.
Bush by Snoop Dogg can be ordered here.