If you love hip-hop then you love a good battle. Two MCs, mic to mic, attacking each other’s weaknesses, the crowd yelling with every verbal punch landed. Well today, ladies and gentlemen, you’re going to witness the first ever (drumroll please) written battle between two hip-hop reviewers. I’m calling it Word War I, and it’s going down right now. The contestants? Yours truly vs. Glenn Gamboa, Newsday’s music critic. Now people write a lot of dumb things about hip-hop, and for my own sanity I can’t fight them all, but Mr. Gamboa’s review of Snoop …
DJBooth Album Review
Gamboa: “…it seemed like the "Ego Trippin'" (Geffen) album would be more pop-oriented, like 2004's "R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece." Instead, it turned out to be far darker, like 2006's "The Blue Carpet Treatment," though less imaginative."
First and foremost let me point out that Snoop suffers from an advanced case of Jay-Z syndrome, meaning he’s been so great for so long that any album that’s less than a masterpiece is considered a complete failure (like Hova’s Kingdom Come). Is Ego Trippin as good as Doggystyle or The Chronic, the best west coast albums ever made? No, but that doesn’t mean its not great. Second, what the hell are you talking about Gamboa? Not only is this album not nearly as dark as Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, Snoop’s triumphant return to west coast Crip music, but it may just be his most imaginative album ever. From the Pharrell produced club hit Sets Up to the Raphael Saadiq-assisted slow jam Waste of Time, the Doggfather has never covered so much sonic ground.
Gamboa: “The bulk of the first four songs are pretty bleak, filled with stark beats and gangsta rhymes.”
Gamboa my man, I’m starting to think you didn’t actually listen to the album; let’s go through the first four songs together. Not counting the intro, the first song is Press Play, a celebratory anthem with an absolutely dope horn section on the chorus, courtesy of DJ Quik. Second up is the radio ready SD Is Out, a joint best described as T-Pain-esque, followed closely some classicly mackilicous rhymes from Snoop on Gangsta Like Me. Fourth but not last is Neva Hafta Worry, a track most notable for some surprisingly contemplative lines from the Dogg. Bleak? Stark beats? Gangsta rhymes? Not even close.
Gamboa: Things lighten up in the middle with the throwback '70s funk of "Sexual Eruption" and the upbeat "Life of Da Party" with Too Short. The party vibe continues with "Cool," which sounds like the '80s funk of The Time in their heyday…"
Describing Sexual Eruption, a song so drenched in 80’s electronic pop it puts Rick James’ to shame, as “70s funk” is about a decade off and the genre wrong. Furthermore, I think it bears mentioning that while Life of the Party is ultimately forgettable, it’s a notable L.A. to the Bay collaboration. Plus Too Short is probably the only rapper alive who’s said “b**ch” more times than Snoop. And not to nitpick, but the reason Cool sounds like The Time is because it’s literally a cover, right down to Snoop's remarkable Morris Day impression. If nothing else, Ego Trippin proves Snoop can actually sing.
Gamboa: "Ego Trippin'" isn't bad, but it is disjointed and a bit jarring for the normally savvy Snoop to trot out so haphazardly."
This is so easy I’m getting bored. Ok Gamboa, I’m willing to admit that Ego Trippin could use some serious editing, 21 songs is just too much, but disjointed and jarring!? Just because you’re confused doesn’t mean the album is. The pencil thin Snoop Doggy Dogg that first taught us the definition of g-funk is long gone, and in his place we have a grown man who’s just now breaking some musical boundaries. Who else would have had the balls to drop a straight-up country song like Medicine then immediately follow it with the chopped n’screwed Ridin’ In My Chevy? Ego Trippin may leave the Dogg’s most gangster fans scratching their heads, but the rest of us should applaud his risk taking, not criticize it. And that, my friends, concludes Word War I. The result? I crushed Gamboa in a landslide victory. Anyone disagree? Bring it on.
DJBooth Rating - 4 Spins
Written by Nathan S. on 03/13/08
First DJ Booth Appearance:
"Hollywood Divorce ft. Lil' Wayne & Snoop Dogg" (2006)
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