Monday, October 21, 2013

Snoop Dogg Returns to His Roots with 7 Days of Funk

The twentieth anniversary of Doggystyle is about a month away, and although it isn’t listed in too many best of lists these days, it’s aged remarkably well. Unlike every album Snoop’s done since, it’s pretty filler-free and Dr. Dre’s guiding hand across the record allowed Snoop to put out a remarkably tight, focused record. The hits still go over at parties, and the deeper cuts still knock as much as they did twenty years ago.

Since Doggystyle, Snoop’s biggest problem is an overarching lack of direction. He’s always been one of those artists who really benefits from a good executive producer helping to shape his projects.[1] Not only that, but he needs to work with someone whose vision complements Snoop’s own. Snoop’s first No Limit album Da Game is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told had Beats by the Pound at the helm, but unlike Mystikal and Fiend, Snoop was never a good fit for their beats, and the bloated twenty-plus songs approach to albums that No Limit favored doesn’t allow for the kind of quality control that Snoop needs. As a result, Da Game is to Be Sold is one of the worst albums in Snoop’s catalog. Major Lazer was also a poor fit for Snoop, as the already rightfully forgotten Snoop Lion album is testament to.[2] Throughout the rest of his catalog, there are some good albums (Tha Doggfather, Paid the Cost to Be the Boss, The Blue Carpet Treatment), but even the best of his post-Doggystyle output has fallen victim to bloating and lack of both quality control and focus.

7 Days of Funk, Snoop’s upcoming album with modern funk czar Dam-Funk looks like it will fix all of these problems. It’s going to clock in at a lean thirty minutes, and it has one producer overseeing the entire album. Most importantly, it’s bringing Snoop back firmly to his roots of funk. 7 Days of Funk is not a g-funk album. It goes back even further, to the roots of g-funk, the funk of Parliament-Funkadelic, Rick James, Slave, The Gap Band. It’s only fitting that Snoop has taken on the moniker Snoopzilla in honor of the great Bootsy Collins AKA Bootzilla.

Dam-Funk spent some time back in the mid-‘90s as a session musician on g-funk records by Westside Connection, MC Eiht, and Warren G, and g-funk has been an important if under-recognized component of his music since. While few have gotten the opportunity to work with Dam so far, truly funk inclined west coast O.G.’s seem to have an instinct for his beats.[3] MC Eiht managed to elevate Toeachizown[4] standout “Hood Pass Intact” even higher on the EP of the same name, sounding more comfortable than he has on any beat this side of We Come Strapped. Snoop sounds just as good on “Faden Away,” the first song released from the project. He sounds even better on the songs heard in the promo video for the album. Snoop built his career on funk, and it’s still the best place for him musically. Dam-Funk is the most exciting artist in funk right now. This collaboration needed to happen.

As Snoop says in the video, “Anything else would be uncivilized.”

7 Days of Funk will be out on December 10 on Stones Throw Records.

[1] See also: Inspectah Deck, who finally got that direction from 7L & Esoteric on Czarface. That he never got his RZA-produced solo album during the five year plan is still the greatest disappointment of  the Wu’s early years.
[2] I’ve seen people taking shots at Snoop for taking the name Snoopzilla so soon after rechristening himself Snoop Lion, but the album itself seems to be a footnote to the name change at this point.
[3] If more west coast legends get an opportunity to work with Dam, that would be amazing. I wouldn’t be opposed to a Soul Survivor type album with as many west coast rappers want to contribute verses.
[4] Toeachizown is a modern classic, and along with Erykah Badu’s New Amerykah albums it’s the best funk album of the last five years.

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