R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece

by: Snoop Dogg

Internet leakers caused the release of R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece to be pushed up a week, but that just means the world got to bask in the excitement of Snoop's great return for seven extra days. Upon its release, the ultrahot production team the Neptunes' contribution to the killer lead single "Drop It Like It's Hot" had been duly noted, but lost in all the chatter was how inspired and on-fire Snoop sounds. Any fan keeping up with his street-level mixtape series Welcome to the Chuuch could tell you something new and fresh was brewing, and 2002's Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$ was excellent, but Snoop's let his fans down before and two years off could mean trouble. Not to be, since Rhythm & Gangsta is right up there with his best while being riskier than anything before it. New sounds like tongue clicks, smooth jazz guitars, and a bit of Steve Miller's "Fly Like an Eagle" give Snoop a brand-new sonic palette to work with, and he's more than ready for it. The up-tempo "Signs" with Justin Timberlake is glittery disco fun, but it ain't gonna keep Snoop from being himself. He's hardcore throughout the album, an album that's got plenty of street and commercial appeal and all the difficulties that comes with it. The numerous youngsters who can't stop singing "Drop It Like It's Hot" are going to freak their parents out with this one. "Can You Control Yo Hoe" is a tough stunner with an inescapable, loopy hook, but Snoop's challenge to the homies is rather disturbing. "If she won't do what you say, why aren't you slapping her?" is the song's direct message that can't be easily brushed off as metaphor, and it's the one that's gonna send mom and dad back to the record store, fuming! Recommending such an album that gets viciously misogynistic -- elsewhere too -- is difficult, but Snoop is fierce throughout Rhythm & Gangsta and putting "Masterpiece" in the title isn't hyperbole. ~ David Jeffries

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