When Snoop Dogg was appointed executive creative and strategic consultant of Def Jam Records back in June, he described the label as “like a family”. He said he wanted to help the artists “to not just be rappers and not just be artists, but to be superstars — superheros, so to speak.”
In this context, ‘Algorithm’ is more about Snoop Dogg as a mentor than Snoop Dogg as a musician: he appears on around half the tracks, with much of the collection acting as a showcase for emerging artists. It’s also pretty diverse in terms of sound, with Snoop’s trademark West Coast funk rubbing shoulders with pop, R&B and even dancehall. Apparently this inspired the album’s title: in Snoop’s words, “There’s so much talent on this record, so many styles of music, it breaks the algorithm”, a statement which makes very little semantic sense, but a fair bit of musical sense.
Snoop has always playfully dabbled in new identities – from Rastafarian convert Snoop Lion to born-again Christian gospel artist, and even to celebrity chef (see his extraordinary 2018 cookbook, From Crook to Cook). These reinventions aren’t always that fruitful, but they’re symptoms of an open-minded, exploratory nature that makes Snoop the ideal helmsman for a compilation like this.
On the one hand you’ve got Method Man & Redman’s opener ‘Alright’, which brews up a party anthem out of the tried-and-true G funk ingredients of a simple piano riff, a sliding bass line and a laid-back vocal hook. And across the album, you’ve got the well-trodden lyrical touchstones we expect from the Dogg, from ‘No Bammer Weed’ (about life as a cannabis connoisseur) to ‘Applying Pressure’ (“It’s hard not to listen when your pussy be talking”).
But for every familiar trope, there’s something new as well: AUGUST 08’s ‘GYU’ is a sun-soaked slice of trap, October London’s ‘I Want You’ brings soulful dancehall to the table, and Jane Handcock gives us no fewer than three smooth, charismatic R&B jams. In amongst the new faces are some big names: Mary J Blige, Ty Dolla $ign and Wiz Khalifa all make appearances, and ‘Big Subwoofer’ marks the debut of Snoop Dogg’s new supergroup MOUNT WESTMORE, where he trades verses with E-40, Too $hort and Ice Cube.
It’s an eclectic mix, and the quality’s as variable as the sound. But by jumping from style to style, and showcasing artists who really ought to be better known, Snoop keeps the party as scrumptiously enjoyable as his recipe for Spaghetti de la Hood. And that’s all he’s really trying to do. As he tells us at the start of the album, “Now tonight I’ll be bringing some of my old friends and some of my new friends, but the whole point is: we gonna have us some fun tonight.”
Words: Tom Kingsley
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