Does Snoop Dogg suffer from a multiple-personality disorder? There’s the family man who reveals his soft side in hits like ”Beautiful.” There’s the tough-talking rapper who often wears blue to reflect his gang-affiliated roots. And there’s the pimped-out playboy who gets his rocks off in tracks like ”Drop It Like It’s Hot.” He’s certainly no saint, but he’s not a hopeless sinner either. In fact, Snoop’s moral imperfections are precisely the crux of his mass appeal.
All of Snoop’s personalities make appearances on his ninth CD, Ego Trippin’. But it’s the playboy who dominates, especially on the preponderance of bass-heavy party jams — exec-produced mostly by Snoop, DJ Quik, and Teddy Riley, who endow the album with a cohesive sound inspired by ’70s soul and ’80s R&B. It’s easy to love the synthy sex appeal of ”Sensual Seduction” and the horn-laden ”Press Play,” an irresistible slice of funk updated with a booming hip-hop beat and anchored by a sample of the Isley Brothers ballad ”Voyage to Atlantis.” However, many of these tracks, though superbly produced, are also predictably misogynistic: Closer inspection of the latter reveals Snoop spitting such unforgivable lyrics as ”Bitch get outta line, I’ll put my Chucks on her throat.”
Moments like that make it hard to sympathize with Snoop when he raps the sappy breakup lament ”Why Did You Leave Me.” And yet we find ourselves rooting for him when he pledges to be a better man to his wife on the piano-tinged groove ”Make It Good.” Slipping into character as the family guy, Snoop does justice to this persona in ”Say Goodbye,” a sincere, Bruce Hornsby-sounding ballad about reconciling home life with an allegiance to the streets.
Of course, no Snoop CD would be complete without a handful of run-of-the-mill gangsta anthems. Here, there are at least five, including the Rick Rock-produced ”Staxxx in My Jeans,” which features the hilarious hook ”My pockets look like Rerun, your pockets look like Raj.” Trippin’ also contains a few surprise highlights beyond the gangsta fare — notably, a funky cover of Morris Day and the Time’s ”Cool” and the fantastically weird ”My Medicine.” Produced by Whitey Ford (a.k.a. Everlast), ”Medicine” is a hip-hop jam with a twang that opens with Snoop declaring ”Grand Ole Opry, here we come,” then continues, ”Girl, my love’s gonna last just as long as my high/You can trust every word I’m gonna say will be a lie.”
With a total of 21 tracks, Trippin’ is a lot to take in: It’s sentimental, it’s fun, it’s vulgar. It’s everything you’d expect from the man who gave us 1993’s classic-but-crude Doggystyle. Maybe this old Dogg doesn’t need any new tricks. B