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  • Sep 22, 2014
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ALBUM (1993)

Rewind Album: 'Doggystyle' by Snoop Dogg

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 25 November, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 25 November, 2012, 6:03pm

Picture this: a young writer, musician, film director - whatever - comes virtually out of nowhere to produce a work of staggering, unrivalled genius. It blows people's minds and almost everything else is rendered inconsequential.

For the creator of said art, their life changes overnight. They lose their sense of self and go from a modest and clear-headed artist to a conceited and confused celebrity, unable to see what comes next or how to replicate their early success. Paradoxically, they may be lucky enough to succumb to an early death through drugs or suicide, remaining forever idolised - but most don't. Most grow older and their art gets worse.

People they've never met constantly ask them to recreate their former glories - "you know, more like the old stuff, the stuff we prefer". You could point to any number of preternaturally talented artists who failed to live up to their early promise, but we'll just name one of them: Snoop Dogg. Preternaturally talented may be stretching it a bit far, but his debut LP that dropped in 1993 is arguably one of the greatest hip hop records of all time.

Aided in no small part by the nuanced and rich production of Dr Dre (whose own debut LP The Chronic had been released the previous year), Doggystyle saw the arrival of a young, lanky and constantly stoned Los Angeles native by the name of Calvin Broadus Jnr, whose vocal style is best described as a molasses drawl, and whose lyrics as somewhere between morbidly realist and mockingly pranksterish.

In response to white America's fears that he was glorifying violence, Snoop said he had never gotten a bachelor's degree, so there was no way he could rap about that world. He lived the streets and dealt with the myriad pitfalls that lifestyle entailed, all of which was reflected in his rhymes. Take it or leave it artistically, but never ignore the plight of the disenfranchised, no matter how they vocalise it.

Over the course of the LP, the tracks bounce and move with incredible energy and swagger, with the bass lines and snapping drums combining to create the signature G-funk sound, which is essentially contemporary "gangster rap" infused with 1970s funk. They were raw tales of '90s America coupled with the soul and funk rhythms of Isaac Hayes, George Clinton and Curtis Mayfield - all of whom are sampled on the album.

From the self-referential sing-along hook of Who Am I?(What's My Name?) and the broody menace of Murder Was the Case to Gin & Juice and the brilliantly pantomine-esque Gz and Hustlas, this is an LP that shines all over - and proved to be a hard act to follow for the rapper.

Oliver Clasper

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