"I'm just trying to keep this Snoop thing popping," declared Snoop Dogg while previewing his 11th studio album, "Doggumentary" (Priority/Capitol, March 29), at Capitol Records Studios in Hollywood. The rapper played 21 tracks, featuring guest turns by Kanye West, Wiz Khalifa, R. Kelly, John Legend, E-40, Young Jeezy and music legends Willie Nelson and Bootsy Collins. On the production side, Snoop Dogg has enlisted a lineup that includes West, Battlecat, Lex Luger, David Banner and Scoop Deville.
Piggybacking on the start of NBA All-Star weekend (Feb. 18) in Los Angeles, the preview was more a party than a listening session -- complete with Colt 45 girls, the beer itself plus cans of Blast and soda, as well as a catering truck serving up beef, pork and vegetarian barbecue sandwiches. The man himself -- wearing a purple sweat suit with orange stripes and a purple Lakers shirt -- sat front and center on a podium, alternately dancing, rapping, smoking and sharing insights behind the album as each track was introduced.
While recording the album, Snoop Dogg explained, the process took on a documentary feel inspired by the music and videos he's churned out thus far in his ongoing career. "I thought, let's put the two G's there and make it more," he added," versus recreating a 'Doggystyle, Part 2.' It's just me doing me."
Oftentimes, the crowd seemed more intent on talking rather than listening. But among the previewed tracks that sparked their attention were current single "Wet" (aka "Sweat"; currently No. 40 on Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs); the Battlecat-produced "Wonder What It Do," which skillfully integrates three samples including Boz Scaggs' "Lowdown"; "Platinum" featuring R. Kelly; the Scott Storch-produced "Boom" featuring T-Pain and Snoop's own Randy Newman-esque nod to the City of Angels, "L.A.," produced by Deville.
Wiz Khalifa comes aboard on "The Weed Is Mine" ("Our connection is so natural," said Snoop), while West produced the introspective "Eyes Closed," which also features John Legend. Of West, Snoop noted, "He's next-level genius; one of the dopest MF's to ever make music. When he cries about losing awards, he deserves that shit. I'll cry, too."
The album's most left-of-center track is the playful "Superman." Accompanied by guitar and harmonica, Snoop and Willie Nelson trade riffs on living life with the hands they've been dealt and realizing, "I'm not Superman." The idea to work together took shape when the two artists found themselves in Amsterdam doing shows there. "We got some studio time and wrote this song," said Snoop. "It's some cold, classic shit."