Snoop Dogg’s tenth solo album, Malice N Wonderland, sounds like it should be dangerous. But instead of rapping about blunts, bottles and bitches, as he has done over the course of his 16-year career, Snoop settles on using his latest project to appeal to an audience that was still rockin’ diapers when his classic album Doggystyle debuted in 1993.
At times, that’s actually a good thing for the Doggfather. On the lead single, “I Wanna Rock,” West Coast producer Scoop DeVille samples Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s “It Takes Two” to create a song that’s well-equipped to handle Los Angeles’ popular dance craze, Jerkin’. Similarly, Snoop’s hardened persona takes a backseat to the airy hook provided by the The-Dream on “Gangsta Luv,” with the combo creating a song that’s just as catchy as any other rap/R&B collabo The-Dream has appeared on this year.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to take Snoop and his newfound playfulness on the mic too seriously—and it quickly takes a toll on this fairy tale. On “Pronto,” he partners with Soulja Boy Tell ’Em and lazily raps, “I do you ’til you get enough, I’ll leave you dead and red and stuff/What it do? What it is? I see you haven’t read enough.” Likewise, “Luv Drunk” finds Snoop again collaborating with The-Dream—less successfully this time—and singing a slew of ridiculous lines like, “Drink ’til you’re drunk, girl, my love is a fifth/Yeah, this for you, boo, it’s a gift.” It’d be a bit much coming from anyone, let alone a rapper pushing 40.
Still, there are enough grownup moments to keep Malice moving along. “Secrets,” featuring Kokane, packs a serving of West Coast flair to hold diehard Snoop fans over, while the brief but punchy “Two Minute Warning” features Snoop proving that he can still rock the microphone. And on “Special,” featuring Brandy and Pharrell, Snoop rehashes the same radio-friendly formula he and The Neptunes used on the 2003 hit, “Beautiful,” to deliver a happy ending to Malice N Wonderland. —Chris Yuscavage