Music News

Snoop Dogg Presents Tha Eastsidaz

The Doggfatha is too, too generous. He hit with two solo CDs last year (one a sort of preliminary revenge blow from estranged former label Death Row), plus his debut with new brothers Tha Eastsidaz, and still he managed to keep up his usual busy social obligations as every rapper's favorite party guest. Now Tha Eastsidaz come back quick with Duces 'N Trayz . . . the Old Fashioned Way, a follow-up to their self-titled first disc.

It's always at least a small pleasure to hear Snoop's menthol-cool, easy-like-Sunday-morning drawl in any context, but this one is hard to listen to straight through. That his Eastsidaz partners Tray Deee and Goldie Loc don't bring half of Snoop's distinctive character and style to the party doesn't help. That the cast of producers (Battlecat acquits himself best) mostly settle for one dronily samey groove throughout each individual track doesn't either.

Each number might sound just fine out of context in a DJ set or even in the 10-times-a-day rotation beloved of hits of the moment on hip-pop radio -- there's certainly nothing too rough or tricky going on here -- but this is one more 79-minute CD made for the shuffler. With no single as instantly compelling as "G'd Up" from their first album, Tha Eastsidaz seem more purely weeded up here, kicking grooves too slow for anyone in a more excitable state of mind.

The theme is Crip unity, perhaps an esoteric subject for those outside the LBC. It opens with Snoop as preacher testifying to a lion-lies-down-with-the-lamb vision of warring Crip factions hanging together, with "nobody wastin' nobody, can you dig it?" The "old-fashioned way" is a pan-black American '70s funk-soul vision, with Gap Band and O'Jays styles bumping along generic George Clinton cops complete with wacky alien voices, but overall it falls flat with the beats, which just clump tinnily along. Bigg Snoop Dogg can do whatever the hell he wants, of course, but he might want to consider taking a season off just to relax.

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Brian Doherty