Like the title of his 15th album, Snoop Dogg has indeed Neva Left.
But remaining relevant is another matter entirely. The 45-year-old former hasn't gotten lazy in his old age, having recently released 2016's Cool Aid and 2015's Bush, but based on the quality of those records, not to mention the reception (or lack thereof) that they've received, perhaps he should slow things down and wait for some greater inspiration.
Like its immediate predecessors, Neva Left is billed as a return to form that instead comes off bland and redundant. At 16 tracks, it's at least mercifully shorter than many of the bloated, 20+ song epics he's released in recent years. But songs like the abysmal "Big Mouth" — the title of which is just lazily shouted ad nauseam as a refrain over its hugely abrasive beat — make the runtime drag on. That tune is the record's absolute low point, but while the remaining tracks aren't as awful, few are memorable.
"420" has slinky, vocoder-laden singing and a funky groove, along with lines from Snoop ("If I had my way, 420 every day") that sound infantile in this cipher-rife era of Kendrick Lamar's reign, and "Let Us Begin" isn't much better, thanks to its generic Jamaican flourishes.
The title track (which also serves as the opener) is at least more catchy and fun, but that's almost entirely due to its use of the Wu Tang's "C.R.E.A.M." sample. Speaking of which: Method Man and his pal Redman stop by for the latter track "Mount Kushmore," livening thing up considerably (Redman spits "dog off the collar/marijuana globe trotter" and other fun one-liners). But even as that pair of superior MCs elevate the track, more than anything they just show Snoop up.
Other than "Big Mouth," though, there's nothing truly awful here, and there's enough good that it isn't a total loss. "Love Around the World" boasts gospel instrumentation complemented by preacher-style crooning from Big Bub, who proves to be Snoop's secret weapon this go around. The Doggfather finally makes more of a lyrical effort on this track: "Say your grace / For the life that you make," he offers, before serving up a few clever food metaphors.
But the LP's best song by far is "Go On," a triumphantly fun summer jam that features an irresistibly catchy disco instrumental and soaring Marvin Gaye-esque vocals from featured singer October London. Snoop's party lyrics align nicely with the music, and he even drops some more laudably ambitious lines, rhyming "boisterous" with "rejoice to this."
If Snoop could just cut his track lists in half and focus on well-crafted party songs, the Doggfather might just find himself back on top. (Doggy Style)