Doggystyle / Empire
Doggystyle Records / Empire

Few artists in the history of rap careers are as decorated as Snoop Dogg, who's spent the past 25 years building a legacy that one can only marvel at. The rapper has earned a bevy of platinum plaques, hit singles and crafted some of the greatest albums and songs of all-time. His legacy as one of the greatest and most recognizable rappers to ever step in a vocal booth has long been solidified, giving The Doggfather untouchable status as far as his rank in the game. However, the past few years have seen the Long Beach, Calif. native stray a bit from his roots as far as the music released on his albums. He's opted to make mid-tempo, lady-friendly ditties rather than servicing the streets with lyrics about his affiliation to the streets and the lessons learned and dues paid along his journey. As a result, Snoop has become known more as a legacy act.

Looking to set the record straight with his latest album, Neva Left, Snoop Dogg reasserts himself throughout the albums 15 tracks, turning in an effort that's as potent as the various strains in his circumference and finds the O.G. hitting on all cylinders. Addressing those who feel his skills have diminished on the album's title track, Snoop flows nimbly over a sample of The Charmels' "As Long As I've Got You," which producers Mike & Keys bolster with grand horns and crisp percussion. "Where you mama and daddy/Told to set up out the room while they swingin' the caddy/That's on the set, tats on they neck/Streets sweet with the heat, yep, they stay on deck," Snoop raps, painting a picture of his LBC habitat and dubbing himself "the Miles Davis of gangbangin' and crack slangin'." This proclamation speaks to the rapper taking it back to the days when he was referred to as "Snoop Eastwood."

An admitted student of hip-hop, Snoop pays homage to Slick Rick by rocking over an interpolating his The Great Adventures of Slick Rick cut "The Moment I Feared" alongside rapper/producer Rick Rock, which continues the momentum on Neva Left, the energy is ratcheted up on "Bacc in da Dayz," a trunk-rattling affair provided by producer J-Massive that utilizes a sample from A Tribe Called Quest's "Check the Rhime" on which Snoop Dogg gets his gangsta boogie on. "I used to come through with the tools and Glocks/Party don't rock like it used to rock," the Doggystyle Records CEO drawls, before touching on his rap family tree. "How can you get it if you ain't been through shit?/I'm just a seed that was planted by Ruthless." Big Tray Deee shows up to give a few words of motivation and wisdom from the perspective of a street general.

Producer Dupri of League Stars hooks up a jittery, 808-powered soundscape with the track for "Promise You This," which Snoop uses to call out opportunists with their hands out. After setting the tone on his own accord, the West Coast deity links with a few artists for a few high-powered collaborations that add to the appeal of Neva Left. Atlanta rapper K Camp appears on the Musik MajorX-produced "Trash Bags, while "Swivel," which finds Snoop kicking gridiron-centric rhymes from the perspective of a quarterback, features newcomer Stresmatic. However, the most enticing meeting of the minds occurs on the Wiz Khalifa and Devin The Dude-assisted "420 (Blaze Up)," a selection tailor-made for the toker in you. Produced by Lamar "Mars" Edwards and DJ Battlecat, who serve up a hazy and hypnotic backdrop, "420 (Blaze Up)," finds all three MCs dropping couplets revolving around their infatuation with Mary Jane and how it enhances the quality of their lives.

The cypher continues on "Mount Kushmore," a head bop-inducing offering that features B-Real, Method Man and Redman joining Snoop to boast about being some of the more notorious stoners in rap history. Their rhymes are delivered over a sample of Zapp's "More Bounce to the Ounce," with each veteran rising to the occasion and banding together for another smoker-friendly track from Neva Left. KRS-One ("Let Us Begin") and BADBADNOTGOOD and KAYTRANADA ("Lavender (Nightfall Remix)") also make standout contributions to Neva Left, but Snoop Dogg ends the album on his own accord, manning the verses on the album's close-out cut, "Love Around the World." Although producer Big Bub lends his vocals to the hook, Snoop takes center stage. "Encore is what they want, much more/I'm smooth like suede with a touch of valor," he raps over a sample of “When I’m With You” by Brenda Lee Eager, an outing that ends Neva Left on a high note.

While his debut album, Doggystyle, dropped more than 20 years ago in 1993, Snoop Dogg remains among the more tenured rappers in hip-hop that have been able to sustain their relevance and star power for multiple decades. Neva Left is evidence of the rapper refusing to rest on his laurels, as he turns in what is among the more focused bodies of work heard from him post-Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, which dropped during at the tail-end of his second creative peak. Shunning party-hearty staples for the mainstream and taking it back to the concrete, Snoop Dogg turns back the hands of time on Neva Left, delivering an album that is a testament to his unprecedented staying power.

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