Snoop Dogg, "Ego Trippin"' (Doggy Style/Geffen)
Leave it to Snoop Dogg to breathe new life (and a few laughs) into a borderline-overused urban music trend. On the slinky first single "Sexual Seduction," the West Coast rap veteran utilized the popular Auto-Tune processor " the production device that digitizes music to sound much like Roger Troutman's vocoder-assisted vocals " and scored with a major hit and a hilarious '80s-inspired throwback video.
But that shrewd ability stay in step with the times while not taking himself too seriously is partly what has enabled Snoop to extend his career long past his gangsta-rapping, early '90s heyday.
After more than 15 years, Snoop may be covering familiar lyrical terrain on his ninth studio album, "Ego Trippin'." His brags again reference his gangsta-slim sex appeal, his gang affiliation and undeniable star power. But Snoop's brand of cool make the redundancies seem more like excusable character ticks than artistic liabilities. On "Press Play," a stellar, horn-accented track produced by DJ Quik, Snoops explains: "Still toking, title holding, Desert Eagle 4-5 toting ... yeah, I'm still focused."
For periods of "Ego Trippin'," Snoop does sound focused. The first half is chocked with bangers, including a wistful look back at his career, "Neva Have 2 Worry," and the bass-heavy, Neptunes-helmed, "Sets Up." But two-thirds in, it's clear that Snoop has trouble editing himself as he crams in odes to a range of musical influences. "Cool" is an average remake of The Time's synth-funk party-starter. "Staxxx In My Jeans" meekly mimics the trunk-rattling Southern rap sound and contains an inane, slo-mo hook: "My pockets look like Re-Run's/ your pockets look like Raj." Snoop even goes country-western on the Everlast-produced "My Medicine." However, that track, like most of the disc, is an undeniable good time, and further proof Snoop's still not wasting his breath.
CHECK OUT: While Snoop raps of his "big blue Chucks" and his coast's "sunshine and palm trees," Pharrell Williams details the steps of what might be a new dance craze on "Sets Up."