Snoop Dogg 

Tha Blue Carpet Treatment

Despite vapid lyrics, cover art that basically merchandizes the Los Angeles Crips gang (the CD proper resembles a blue bandanna), and an irritating tendency to oscillate between gangsta and playa personae (and omg, they're both sooooo 1994), Snoop Dogg's latest is a rousing success — certainly and emphatically the rapper's best since Doggystyle. You just have to judge "success" on the Dogg's own terms.

Take the lyrics. Lest you wince at the smugly misogynist tone of "A Bitch I Knew," which contains such gems as Patricia, Patricia, she love the way I stick her/I take her to the movies and now she eat the dick up, keep in mind that this is a guy who filed for divorce in 2004 to fulfill his lifelong dream of becoming a pimp. Every time he says "bitch" or "dick," rest assured that whatever follows should be earnest and heartfelt. Snoop, who keeps a thesaurus in his home recording studio (according to Touré's recent profile in Rolling Stone), never purported to be a brilliant lyricist. Rather, his genius lies in his ability to caricature himself, but always sound completely sincere.

The artful production on Blue Carpet Treatment enhances that caricature, thanks to assists from Dr. Dre, Rick Rock, Timbaland, and the Neptunes. Rick Rock's stark, looped Digable Planets sample on "Candy (Drippin' Like Water)" becomes an extension of Snoop's psychology as he and E-40 swap metaphors for drugs and big nuts. Similarly, the gnarly, primordial beats on "Vato" (probably the album's strongest track), "Psst!," and "Beat Up on Yo Pads" shore up the sentiment in lyrics about thugging, womanizing, and, uh, coaching pee-wee football. And only Snoop could take a schmaltzy Dido sample — yes, the one Eminem used on "Stan" — and make it sound, well, gangsta.

Supposedly, Snoop's lyrics outpace his production only when he gets on the subject of Crippin' (which has always been the case, given that immortal line about hollerin' 187 on an undercover cop). But most of us will have to trust him on that one, since we'll just never understand what the fuck he's saying. That's intentional, Snoop said in the Rolling Stone interview, adding that he wants to telegraph "subliminal" messages to the 'hood, without suburban kids or soccer moms being the wiser. To the uninitiated, "blue carpet treatment" might even sound like a cute play on "red carpet treatment" — though aspiring gangsta-rap etymologists claim it's actually an allusion to the ancient Crip practice of rolling you up in a carpet and kicking the shit out of you. Granted, only gangsta literati would know for sure. Now ain't that a bitch?


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