It?s not terribly difficult to view many of Snoop Dogg?s
latest career moves as gimmicks. This rapper from Long Beach, Calif., has been
involved in everything from television to pornography to even coaching youth
football over the past few years. Oh, and he makes music every once in a while.
Clearly Snoop?s current interests have diverged from mere hip-hop ? he even
recently admitted to using ghostwriters for his latest album, Ego Trippin?. Strangely enough, Snoop?s
waning focus on music actually works to his benefit. The Doggfather sounds more
relaxed than ever on his latest release, unafraid to reach for a new type of
noise. This sense of adventure has helped make Ego Trippin? a surprisingly good album.

Most of the album?s notable songs fall into three
categories. First are the extremely bizarre. It would be impossible not to
mention ?Sexual Eruption,? on which Snoop gets in touch with his inner sex god.
But, considering how absolutely ridiculous the premise is, it?s still a great
track. Snoop also dabbles in country singing on ?My Medicine,? a dedication
track to Johnny Cash, ?a real American gangster? in the eyes of Snoop. Lastly,
?Cool? is a wild, electric synth-filled remake of Morris Day and The Time?s
1980s hit. Truthfully, few mainstream rap artists could pull off such an
eccentric combination of songs without sounding foolish, but Snoop does so
fluently.

Any Snoop Dogg album wouldn?t be complete without a handful
of tracks blessed with his characteristic West Coast swagger. ?Press Play,? one
of the best songs on the album, features Snoop?s laid-back flow contrasting
perfectly with a powerful chorus filled with horns and a hook from rapper
Kurupt. The real highlight of that track, though, is DJ Quik?s terrific
production. Snoop hooks up with the Neptunes as well for ?Sets Up,? which
represents for the rapper?s former hip-hop outfit, 213. Unfortunately, this
track sounds like nearly every song Snoop has done with the Neptunes over the
last five years. Meanwhile, Snoop also professes his affinity for the glamour
of ?Deez Hollywood Nights,? in what is a strangely comical song about partying,
celebrities, hos and drugs.

Although the previously mentioned songs add some important
diversity to Ego Trippin?, the key
songs of the album appear when Snoop gets more introspective. On ?Neva Have 2
Worry,? Snoop reflects on his 15-year career in the rap game and his emergence
as a California icon. On closing track, ?Can?t Say Goodbye,? Snoop confesses he
can?t leave the streets and lifestyle he grew up with.

Ego Trippin? drags
on for a little too long at 21 songs, and cutting out some lackluster filler
tracks would have made it a better album. Nonetheless, Snoop has found a new
posture that really works for him. His reinvented style ? emphasized by the
unconventional songs of the album ? helps make Ego Trippin? sound fresh, which is something we haven?t heard from
Snoop in years.

 

3 stars out of 5