Snoop Dogg

R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece

Since his classic '93 debut, Doggystyle, Snoop has been more of a brilliantly honed caricature than a real person. On that album, he was a conflation of an Iceberg Slim novel and an Arthur Sarnoff painting; for R&G, he comes across as a parody of R. Kelly and ... well, his former self. The LP's R&B undercurrent is passable -- thanks in no small part to the muscular neu-R&B production by the Neptunes -- but lyrically Snoop's leaning on the same tropes that have carried his past two albums, "fo' shizzle my nizzle" and all that. And while that joke just isn't funny anymore, it doesn't mean that this album doesn't have its peaks. The ubiquitous "Drop It Like It's Hot" -- with its meticulous rhythmic deconstruction -- is perhaps the strongest single since Snoop's Death Row days, and his flow on such songs as "Oh No" (featuring 50 Cent) is as indelible as ever.

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