Snoop Dogg (real name Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr.) is a bonafide legend. Yes, rap is his core, but like most legends, Snoop has branched out into an array of other areas in and out of the entertainment arena. There’s acting (he was most recently in the film Grow House, starring as himself), television (Martha and Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party is his most current venture), porn (he directed it, not starred), and even some serious non-profit work (“Hoops 4 Water” for Flint, Michigan). With all those things going on, to most of his fans, it may have felt like music was no longer the center of his 20-plus career. Neva Left was created to rectify that thought. And it’s successful at doing so.
Technically, Snoop has truly “never left” music. Since his career began in 1993 with the classic debut album, Doggystyle, he has regularly released albums with no more than two year breaks between. I think the idea of him being gone though, is induced by the fact that although he has routinely released music, the wide public has not really embraced it. His last major solo hit was the fantastically surprising “Sensual Seduction,” released in 2008 (he also had a nice hit in 2011 with Wiz Khalifa and Bruno Mars on the collaboration, “Young, Wild & Free”). Neva Left could change that.
The 16-track set is an ode to the rapper’s classic self (the album kicks off with the title track, reminding you exactly who Snoop really is), and a dive into some current sounds with new, and OG, talent. “Trash Bags,” featuring K CAMP, is a fresh, chill, slick banger that could comfortably place Snoop in today’s clubs (strip clubs included) and on radio. And “Swivel,” one of my personal favorites, is a masterclass on how to ride a beat. The hook, with vocals by Stresmatic of The Federation, is hypnotizing and hard.
It’s important to note that even though Snoop is “in style” sonically, he isn’t making McDonald’s music. There’s some serious meat on these records. They stick. He’s not sacrificing himself to cater to a fickle audience.
What also makes Neva Left special is that throughout the album, listeners will find the rapper totally acting his age, specifically on the song, “Go On,” where he makes references to being a grandfather (the coolest one ever, of course). Snoop also makes it clear that although he’s elevated himself as a household name in white America, he still ain’t no punk. He often throws threats to “bitch ass” people that talk too much (“Big Mouth”) and disapproves of “sucker shit” (“Moment I Feared”). He says what he wants, how he wants, without giving one damn about what anyone thinks.
At a listening preview party back in April, at the famed Electric Lady Studios in New York City, Snoop spoke about why he made the album. “With this record, it’s more about me doing something that felt good to me. Wasn’t under no pressure. Wasn’t nobody telling me I needed to do a record or had to do a record. I just felt like I wanted to put out some music to represent the generation of hip-hop that I come from; just to let people know that I’m still here, and still do what I do.”
Will this album be the one that puts Snoop back high on the charts, and remind people of the rap king that he is? I hope, but if it doesn’t, I would still consider it to be one of the more solid works to release this year. I personally hope Snoop Dogg never truly leaves. He’s a unique, necessary music figure, and Neva Left solidifies that.
Neva Left – Snoop Dogg (2017)
Producers DJ Battlecat, Mike & Keys, Rick Rock, Brody Brown
Features K Camp, Too $hort, Wiz Khalifa, Redman, Method Man