As a West Coast rap pioneer, Snoop Dogg’s 13th album is a return to the soulful G-funk sound of his earlier career, as if he’s already bought into his own caricature of himself. Even Pharrell Williams’ stellar production turns out to be nothing other than what could be expected. “BUSH” is a fun, smooth and incredulously boring album that provides nothing new or interesting that we don’t already expect from Snoop Dogg.
“BUSH” evokes the luxurious laidback climate of the West Coast, a climate almost synonymous with Snoop Dogg’s persona. Beginning with “California Roll,” which features soul legend Stevie Wonder, the song begins with a speedy snare getting covered by Pharrell’s smooth production and Wonder crooning, “Baby you can be a moving star / get yourself a medical card.” Wonder’s addition to this track seems only fitting, given Snoop’s attempt to channel the funk of the 1970s. Snoop sings into the mic with as much soul as he can muster, which actually sounds great, with a tasteful use of autotune. The autotune isn’t used as a crutch, but as a stylistic device that layers Snoop’s vocals without coming off as heavy-handed. However, it’s problematic that most of the songs on the album start this way. There is no pushing of boundaries, nothing interesting going on within the genre he’s working in, and this is saying much given how dynamic funk has been as of late.
Other standout songs, such as “I’m Ya Dogg,” which features both Rick Ross and Kendrick Lamar, and “Peaches N Cream” have similar problems. The structure of each song is so similar that at times it can be difficult to tell whether the song has even changed or not. Moreover, while Lamar’s appearance is expected (and lauded) given their frequent collaborations, the inclusion of Rick Ross is a dubious choice. His flow is a little heavy-handed, and does not work well with the cool atmosphere of the album.
However, Pharrell’s production results in a seamlessly textured sound, with rhythmic bass lines and rich synth beats. Make no mistake: This album will make you vibe. “So Many Pros” begins with some fast-paced snare, transitioning to Snoop’s smooth vocals, backed by singer Charlie Wilson and Pharrell Williams. While, yes, this does sound like every other song, it still works, and I challenge anyone to listen to it without wanting to dance a little.
Snoop knows all this. It seems that he genuinely knows how derivative “BUSH” sounds, but does not care: he is having fun. For those craving a unique funk sound, “BUSH” does not deliver. In fact, I would suggest you listen to D’angelo’s album “Black Messiah,” which is also a funk-soul fusion album, only exponentially better. While “BUSH” has some funk, its generic sound is disappointing, especially for an artist of Snoop Dogg’s caliber.
Rating: 2.5 stars