Friday, April 15, 2005

I know, it seems like I'm all up on Snoop's jock these days. "Drop It Like It's Hot" was my #1 single of 2004, I'm raving like Shut Up and Dance about R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece, and now he's got not just one but my top 2 singles of 2005 (updated, finally!). But it's all legit, folks. The Neptunes make, in the mid-'00s, as natural a perfect fit for Snoop as Dre did a decade ago - maybe moreso. Snoop Dogg's not a gangsta, is the thing; he's no 50 Cent. He can talk the talk, and it sounds convincing, but if you think about it, you know that that's just not Snoop. He's the guy who records hits like "Beautiful." He is, dare I say - and I mean this as a compliment - a softie. [Mind you, the kind of softie who says things to women like "You remind me of the time when I had a ho."] Accordingly, Chad and Pharrell's production is a buttery leather glove hugging Snoop's hand. "Let's Get Blown" is so sneakily easy, the kind of track I wouldn't fault you for thinking the Neptunes bang out in their off time. But listen more closely, and hear that early-'80s late-night-radio whining new-wave-starting-to-go-pop synth rearing its head here and there, all icy underneath a fairly warm rhythm track. And be reminded of what a great rapper Snoop is, truly making it sound effortless; still, few have the pure skills Snoop does. This is a masterful record, one that'd easily be my favorite record of '05 thus far - except that he topped it himself.

"Drop It Like It's Hot" is the superior record, art at its finest, but "Signs" might well bring me more pure pleasure. It's Snoop making a full-fledged dance record, one which will get booties shakin' coast-to-coast - and can you imagine how sick the remixes could be, just pure out-and-out blissful house? And they'd work, without sounding awkward. Other reasons "Signs" is a great single:
1. Justin Timberlake singing that hook so, so sweetly.
2. And singing "don't fuck with me." Process that for a moment. If it helps, recall JT's old group. Take a second, think about it. Ting!
3. Snoop keeps giving Charlie Wilson (lead singer of the Gap Band, c'mon!) work, and Charlie keeps earning it.
4. That bassline damned near coulda been stole from a Gap Band record.
5. A "tone"/"cologne" rhyme, sung by Snoop.
6. 25 years ago, this could've about been a classic Earth, Wind and Fire single.
7. Snoop references Ibiza! Raving I'm raving, indeed.
The bar for 2005's been set. I'll be very happy if Snoop gets topped - because that means even more killer music - but I won't bet on it, honestly.

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