It’s been a weird year for one living rap legend who we mostly know as Snoop Dogg. The lively as ever 42-year-old decided to flip the script entirely and go the reggae route in early 2013 with the release of “Reincarnated.” He even changed his name, ever so slightly, for the project by embracing the Rastafarian ways as Snoop Lion. This change led to some issues within the reggae community. Most notably, Bunny Wailer, who you may know as the drummer for Bob Marley, lashed out at Snoop for being a “fraud” and using the culture as a promotional tool. This prompted the Long Beach, Calif. rapper to show that he still had plenty of bite left to him, as he responded with his teeth showing. He said that he could have replied with threats because he’s “still a gangsta.” But he also acknowledged that he’s “growing,” so he decided to “move forward [and] shine with the light.”
The criticism was nothing to Snoop, who indeed moved and, funny enough, decided it was time to switch things up again. Clearly looking to reinvent himself while remaining true to his roots, he took on yet another alias when he joined forces with Los Angeles funk maestro Dam-Funk to create the duo 7 Days of Funk. For this project, the one-time gangster rapper took on the name Snoopzilla, an homage to legendary bassist/singer Bootsy Collins. Together, Dam and Snoop hit the studio and cranked out the seven (eight if you count the bonus) tracks on their self-titled debut together.
For those sharp enough to venture a guess, “7 Days of Funk” was indeed crafted in a week’s time, according to the duo’s interview with Spin. But don’t let that you lead to believe this is some rushed project, thrown together quickly to meet some label requirements or anything like that. No, this is just what you call inspiration, plain and simple, and it’s the most inspired Snoop has sounded in a long time. Interestingly enough, it’s the first album he’s done with just one producer since his seminal debut, 1993’s “Doggystyle.” So how serendipitous is it that now, 20 years later, he’s done it a second time with Dam?
Quite serendipitous, because Snoopzilla’s production partner brought a strong dose of that G-funk sound that made us fall for the rapper so many years ago. You’ll hear thick-as-molasses bass, head-nodding percussion, space-y synthesizers, and some of the most addictive grooves of the year on here. And that’s just the instrumental side of it. Vocally, Snoop is definitely an adequate singer, capable of carrying the melody and sneaking into your brain so you’ll be singing, say, “Faden Away” days later.
In addition to his and Dam’s clearly refined songwriting abilities, Snoop’s wisely not over-extending himself or trying to be anything he isn’t—this is Snoop at his, well, most Snoop. His lyrics are playful and thoughtful all at once, whether he’s singing about love on “Let It Go” and “1Question?” or getting pimp-ish on opener “Hit Da Pavement.” It’s worth noting that “1Question?” also features funk-man Steve Arrington, formerly of Slave, who basically makes the track his own. He and Dam actually put an album out together earlier this year, “Higher.” The only other guest vocalists are Bootsy Collins, who makes a quick spoken-word appearance, and longtime Snoop collaborator Kurupt, who can’t seem to find the pocket on “Ride.” It’s a shame, because Kurupt is an otherwise fine talent. Also, “Ride” is just a cool-ass track.
“7 Days of Funk” is a fun, refreshing, and rewarding listen that’s sure to get plenty of burn this winter and beyond. While the weather might not be warm enough to complement the heat within these tracks, it’ll remain in your rotation long enough that you’ll be able to properly enjoy it once the temperatures begin to rise. And, perhaps the best part, this will lead to Dam-Funk receiving attention from a new set of listeners that might not have heard his music before. Because if they’re feeling their work with Snoopzilla, they’ll definitely need to dig through his back catalogue.
The album is available for purchase right now at the Stones Throw website, where you can buy it digitally or on CD or vinyl. There’s also the option to pre-order a limited-edition 45 box set of “7 Days of Funk,” which is definitely recommended if you’re an audiophile. If that’s the case, you should definitely make sure you have a record player on hand first. The USB turntables at mysmartbuy are an extremely handy option, because they’re reasonably priced and incredibly intuitive. If you want to listen to the album on speakers or headphones, that’s easy enough, but what about taking it with you when you go out? Just hook the record player up to your computer and rip the files directly to your hard-drive. You’ll get the superior sound offered on vinyl and on-the-go listening.
1. Hit Da Pavement
2. Let It Go
3. Faden Away
4. 1Question? (featuring Steve Arrington)
5. Ride (featuring Kurupt)
6. Do My Thang
7. I’ll Be There 4U