What We Learned From Snoop Dogg's 'Neva Left' Album Listening Session in New York City

Rick Kern/WireImage
Snoop Dogg performs at Austin360 Amphitheater on Aug. 21, 2016 in Austin, Texas. 

After stirring up controversy with his music video of BADBADNOTGOOD's "Nightfall" remix -- which included a mock shooting at a clown version of president Donald Trump -- rap legend Snoop Dogg will return with his fourteenth studio effort Neva Left.

As the album name suggests, Neva Left finds the Long Beach native back on his gangsta s--t. He also gets jiggy on 4/20-friendly jams like "Blaze Up" and calls out snakes on "Big Mouth." The album serves as an ode to every phase of Snoop Dogg's career and also hosts collaborations with fellow rap vets like KRS-One, Too $hort, Red Man and Method Man. 

On Friday (April 7), the D-O-double-G hosted an intimate listening session of Neva Left (due May 19) at New York City's Electric Lady Studios. While smoking blunt after blunt and showing off his limber dance moves, Snoop let the album play in full before hosting a roundtable-style interview. Here are a few things we learned about the Doggfather and his upcoming project. 

Back to rap

"I never left the rap game, despite all the other things that I do whether it's coaching football, doing TV, movies, my own television show GGN News Network -- whatever it is I'm doing, I never left the rap game, like completely step out of it and leave it alone," Snoop told the audience in the room while sparking weed before playing Neva Left. "What I wanted to do on this record -- and it was a spontaneous move -- was to make a record to engulf every phase of Snoop Dogg that you’ve heard over the last 25 years. 

"From hearing me on “Deep Cover” to hearing me on The Chronic, to my first album to hearing me with Pharrell to No Limit to the reggae album to a funk album -- all the different evolutions of Snoop Dogg. but taking a snippet of each one and enhancing this new record with that same spirit, still keeping it new and fresh."

"So with this record, it’s more about me just doing something that felt good to me. Wasn’t under no pressure. Wasn’t nobody telling me I need to do a record, or I have to do a record," he continued. "I just felt like I wanted to put out some music to represent the generation of hip-hop that I come from, just to let people know that I’m still here and I still do what I do." 

Sample and feature game strong

Among the samples heard throughout the LP were Wu-Tang Clan's 1993 smash "C.R.E.A.M.," A Tribe Called Quest's "Check The Rhime" off the Queens rap crew's 1991 sophomore effort The Low End Theory as well as Michael Jackson's "Heal The World. " The latter was interpolated into a beat for a spoken word intro from Snoop to a track titled "Big Mouth." "You could never make motherf--kers happy, always someone entitled, always on the sideline talking with her big mouth," says Snoop on the track. 

Features are scattered throughout the project as well. Wiz Khalifa and Devin the Dude appear on the puff-puff-pass anthem called "Blaze Up" that features an Auto-Tune-drenched hook that chants, "Today's the day to blaze up." Bronx icon KRS-One, soulful crooner Big Bub of R&B group Today fame and hip-hop duo Method Man and Redman appear on the set. Kendrick Lamar also makes a cameo but sadly doesn't offer a fiery sixteen. 

"It wasn’t necessary. I just needed him to say what he said. “Nah lil’ homie. You got it all wrong. Big Snoop Dogg ain’t never left.” That to me was more of a statement than him trying to chop up a verse," Snoop said. "I needed that statement from him, solidifying the fact that the Dogg ain’t never went nowhere." 

Snoop also said of picking Dot: "'Cause his voice matters. Just that small piece right there got your attention. He didn’t spit three bars, but you know that’s his voice. And you kinda know what he said. And then when you go back and listen to it, you’re gonna have an understanding. 'Cause it goes from him saying, "Big Snoop Dogg ain’t never left…" to "I’m still here.” So it’s like an old-school blend of how DJs used to do it, when they would say something and then the record would come that’s saying something to answer them in the song so it’s all reminiscent of old-school feel. With him having a conversation, and his conversation leading into the next record." 

Snoop revealed that production credits included Mike and Keys, Rick Rock, Battle Cat, Big Bub, K-Camp, Mars and Carlos.

No filter necessary

With over two decades worth of experience in the business and a resume probably as diverse as his weed collection, Snoop Dogg is still well-versed in saying whatever the F he has to say. From calling out the clownery of Trump's presidency on the BADBADNOTGOOD collaboration to rhyming about the hardships of minorities ("Let's begin with the when, how and when / Most of my n---as are dead or in the pen," he raps on the KRS-One collaboration), Neva Left is unequivocally Snoop's honest POV.

"It’s just that this is what happens to us when we become successful from a minority point of view," he explained of the song "Big Mouth." "When we become successful, we deal with sideliners telling us how we shoulda spent our money, why we didn’t do this, why we didn’t do this. So it’s like I’m speaking for those who wanna say, “You got a big mouth!” There’s so many people with big mouths but you can’t tell ’em that because you don’t wanna feel out of pocket. Now when someone with a big mouth come up to you, you can just put the song on."

Neva Left drops May 19. 


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