Coming just about a year after his Pharrell Williams-helmed album Bush landed as a conceptual, dank disco triumph, Snoop Dogg returned with this 2016 back-to-basics effort, Coolaid, which is as comfortable as it is cool. Without the crip walking and crime bossing of his early years, the varied and mainstream LP falls right in line with Snoop's 2004 effort R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece, offering a cavalcade of stars and numerous radio-worthy party tracks. Swizz Beatz is the album's executive-producing anchor and surprisingly helms one of the album's most G-funk-sounding cuts, the grinding "Let Me See Em Up," which sounds like an old-school anthem combined with massive post-dubstep bass. Still, it's newcomer Bongo who steals the show with his tropical beat on "Point Seen Money Gone," an outstanding highlight that reminds listeners that the veteran MC's Snoop Lion alias wasn't just a dream. Bringing reminders of another alias, Snoopzilla, highlight "My Carz" features a Gary Numan-sampling beat from the late J Dilla, while producer Daz Dillinger represents the early days on the gangsta-leaning and easy "Oh Na Na" with Wiz Khalifa. Cardo takes it further on "Affiliated," which sounds like the dead Death Row label came alive in 2016, plus the track is arguably the album's most lyrically ambitious effort as Snoop is fired up and challenged by the underground favorite Trick Trick. By the time the one-joke "Kush Ups" rolls around with a second Wiz Khalifa appearance, an argument could be made that the 20-track album is overstuffed, but Snoop's conceptual larks and concept albums have taken over the last decade. Consider this an exciting double-LP throwback that drops "Even if I die, living legend" during the opening cut and then just gets bigger and bolder from there.
by David Jeffries