As the Death Row ship was sinking, Snoop Dogg bailed, heading over to the new bastion of street cred, No Limit Records. Master P had worked his way to the top of the charts by giving the people what they wanted -- straight-up gangsta, with no frills, creativity, or substance. It was all a little rawer (actually, just cheaper) than Death Row's productions, but there was no denying that they knew what sold, and it seemed as if Snoop was making No Limit legitimate in the eyes of the mainstream world. Master P is a master marketer, and he knows how to reshape everyone on his roster into good No Limit soldiers. And that's precisely what Snoop Dogg is on Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told, his third album proper and first for No Limit. There are a few concessions to G-funk scattered throughout the record, but by and large, Beats by the Pound and P give Snoop a set of standard No Limit backing tracks and have him do the No Limit dance -- record a long-winded, monotonous album, filled with "interpolations" of '80s soul and rap songs, and loaded with No Limit cameos. But there's one crucial difference: unlike most of Master P's grunts, Snoop has style, miles and miles of style. His loose, languid delivery is positively enthralling, which makes it all the more frustrating when No Limit hacks interrupt the flow. That happens on almost all of the tracks -- only a handful are Snoop alone, and those illustrate that he can, on occasion, turn bland music into something interesting. Still, they can't excuse the banality of Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told. Signing to No Limit might have preserved Snoop Dogg's street cred, but it ruined his creativity.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Thomas Erlewine
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