Fame is a touchy subject. It’s one of those topics that you have to experience to really know how you would handle a situation so fragile. Many artists seek to attain a standard of living their favorite artists have rapped about for years. This is why you hear so many rappers say they don’t want to be famous, they just want to be rich. In reality, the two go hand in hand; if you want to be a rich artist, the majority of the time you have to be the one in front of the camera. Money and fame isn’t for everyone though. It’s a testament to see artists three decades in the game keep their sanity and their fortune. Snoop Dogg is one of the few artists that have managed to never let fame and fortune go to their heads.
Once you obtain wealth and fame, many people come crawling out of the woodwork. They think you owe them something for how hard you worked, wanting to ride your coattails to a life that transcends their own. There are others who will say, “you’ve changed” on them because you don’t act a certain way anymore. Throughout Snoop’s career the one thing that has remained constant is his love for California. His sound has evolved over the years since he released the groundbreaking Doggystyle but he has never said he doesn’t claim the LBC. Neva Left is a full fledged west coast album, filled with sounds of funk and bass lines that would make 19 year old Snoop jealous.
Neva Left sees Snoop Dogg returning to the west coast sound that birthed him, one that he has veered away from over the last couple albums. The title track, which serves as the intro, is Snoop reestablishing himself as the legendary artist he has become. Backed by The Charmels’ ‘As Long As I’ve Got You’ (the same sample from Wu-Tang Clan’s ‘C.R.E.A.M.’) Snoop reminds you of his gangster roots over the smooth piano melody. There are more tracks like this to remind you that Snoop once ran the streets of the LBC but none of them sound as fresh and relaxing as Neva Left.
When Neva Left stays on track with style, sound, and direction, it sounds amazing. It’s refreshing to hear Snoop come back to this sound and not sound stale. Most of this is due to production from DJ Battlecat and Rick Rock, two of the premier west coast producers. Even when Snoop strays from this style on ‘Lavender (Nightfall remix)’, a record produced by BadBadNotGood and Kaytranada, it sounds beautiful. When Snoop leaves the west coast premises is when things begin to take a bad turn. ‘Trash Bags’ features K Camp and turns into a forced record about getting money and strippers. The sound doesn’t fit with what Snoop has crafted with the rest of the tracklist and serves no real purpose other than filler. Even when Snoop tries to go real old school, the KRS-One featured ‘Let Us Begin’, it sounds over the top and like it should have been left on the hard drive it once lived on.
Snoop Dogg is on his 15th album, a feat that many artists do not see in this era of small attention spans. He’s experimented with his name, his sound, his image, and still remained true to his California roots throughout. Neva Left may not be his best album but the more you listen to it, the more you hear the passion he has for the left coast and how it is the foundation for everything that has happened in his long and illustrious career.
Repeatable: ‘Neva Left’, ‘Bacc in da Dayz’ feat. Big Tray Deee, ‘Go On’ feat. October London
Skippable: ‘Trash Bags’ feat. K. Camp, ‘Let Us Begin’ feat. KRS-One
By Joe Coad