The offices at the top of the Capitol Records building in Hollywood are home to some of Southern California’s most awe-inspiring views. Through the circular glass that adorns the iconic edifice, you can see the plush landscapes of some of the world’s most lavish neighborhoods. But look a little farther and you can just as effortlessly peer into the working class streets that birthed gangsta rap.
It’s this dichotomous picture that provides a fitting backdrop for Calvin “Snoop Dogg” Broadus and his new label home high atop the cylindrical landmark. As the Creative Chairman of EMI’s newly reintroduced Priority Records, Snoop will oversee a hefty catalog chock full of gangsta rap anthems (NWA, Eazy E, Master P, Ice Cube) that launched from the streets and infiltrated even the highest suites. The view also bodes well for Snoop’s first order of business in his new post: his upcoming Malice N Wonderland. After all, it’s these two very different worlds that the Doggfather pulls inspiration from for his tenth solo outing. This intersection of “malice” and “wonder” combines for an exciting listen.
“When I started to put together this record I had a lot of malice in my heart—just focusing on making hardcore gangsta music.” explains Snoop. But what’s become quite obvious to his adoring global fan base is that while Snoop stays steeped in the hood realities of his native Eastside Long Beach, he’s continued to evolve. And after delving further into this opus, Snoop knew that he also wanted to make songs that embodied more than just his gangsta. “My mood lightened and I wanted to make some music that just felt good…to me and to the ladies.”
It’s the later mindset that has already provided Snoop with another monster single: “Gangsta Luv.” Here, Snoop breezes over the song’s electro-hop synths while inviting R&B sensation The Dream and producing partner Tricky to the party. “I love combining my sound with the hottest artists,” says Snoop of The Dream (who also checks in for the Malice’s insistent “Luv Drunk”). “And I don’t have to sacrifice what I do. Even though it’s for the ladies, I know exactly how to keep it straight G, ya dig?”
Yet, Snoop easily keeps a foot deep in the hood. Producer Scoop DeVille’s clever reworking of Rob Base and DJ E-Z Rock’s classic “It Takes Two” on “I Wanna Rock” sees Snoop’s smooth delivery supplying another “Jerkin” anthem. “I love to see the little homies bringing new energy to the game,” Snoops says of the youth driven So Cal dance phenomenon. “They from the same streets that I’m from, so it’s just natural.” That spirit continues on the autotuned romp “Pronto” where Snoop and his “nephew” Soulja Boy induce adrenaline pumping with a thunderous Southern style.
The energy remains maxed out on “1800.” The tequila ode’s gut thumping bass line, courtesy of the usually amped Lil Jon, keeps Snoop as the life of the party. Similarly, the Terrace Martin produced, liquor-induced jaunt that is “Upside Down” stays hyped with a clattering of hard high hats and cowbells. Here, Uncle Snoop introduces two of the West’s brightest new prospects by allowing South Central LA’s Nipsey Hussle and Compton’s Problem to let their youthful bravado bang.
Legendary producer Battlecat keeps it decidedly West Coast with the Kokane assisted “Secrets.” This G-funked, interpolation of The Romantics’ new wave ditty “Talking In Your Sleep” finds Snoop fully OG’d with neighborhood tales and warnings to lower level Gs. “That’s what I mean by ‘malice’,” explains Snoop. “No matter how many times I’ve been around the world or how many awards shows I’ve been on, there is still real shit out there in these streets. And if you don’t keep one eye on it, those dogs will jump up and try to bite your ass.”
Hence, Snoop’s “2 Minute Warning.” Jumped off with a gun click-clacking, Snoop again stakes his claim as King of the Coast and recounts the struggle to earn the position. “No Suge, no Dre, I would’ve done this regardless,” he spits.
Producer Danja’s menacing track for Malice’s initial street single broadens Snoop’s street appeal. “That’s Tha Homie,” lets Snoop solidify his lifelong “hood pass” and proves that his reach extends far outside of his own Golden State empire. “I get it in everywhere I go to,” he boasts. “They know me in every hood in the world and they love me because I always show love to them. They’re the reason why I still get behind a mic and do these tours. I want to see their faces and let them know that Snoop is still fuckin’ with them.”
While Snoop Dogg’s “Wonderland” is far from that of a John Mayer (case in point the Commodores sampled “Pimpin’ Ain’t EZ” featuring R. Kelly), it does present some slightly less hardcore fare. “Different Languages,” produced by Teddy Riley, features the powerful voice of R&B songstress Jazmine Sullivan with an earthy piano, and shows Snoop giving respect to the woman in his life. Likewise, “Special” has Brandy and Pharrell alongside feathery high hats and a soft piano riff melting in the background. The song inspires Snoop’s mack mode serving up romantic fantasies and spontaneous trips abroad. “That’s me too!” he exclaims. “I’ve shown that I can make songs dedicated to these females. I understand their struggle and that they want a man to tell them certain things. And if their man won’t, I will. Right through their speakers.” Together, the trio delivers a hit that picks up right where Snoop’s memorable single “Beautiful” left off.
It’s his natural appeal to both the hood and to Hollywood that has allowed Snoop Dogg to stay tremendously relevant through ten releases and numerous side projects. Since bursting into our collective consciousness alongside famed producer Dr. Dre on the 1992 classic The Chronic, Snoop has remained a constant force in Hip-Hop and a household name around the world.
Because of this, Snoop entered into a first-of-its kind global deal with MTV that will bring his personality to television and his music to fans. The MTV deal will aid in providing marketing and promotion for Malice N Wonderland. In addition, songs from Snoop’s impressive catalogue of hits will be released on MTV’s hot-selling Rock Band music video game platform.
As Creative Chairman of Priority, the label that helped established West Coast Rap, Snoop will help re-launch Priority and drive efforts to maximize untapped digital and branding opportunities. He will also serve as Executive Producer for a series of Priority releases commemorating the label’s 25th anniversary in 2010.
From music to movies, Twitter posts to TV shows (E!’s reality series Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood and MTV’s Dogg After Dark), Snoop Dogg remains not just at the forefront of the rap game but also at the apex of popular culture. And it’s his tales about his view from the top that ensure Malice N Wonderland will be yet another classic to add to the Chairman’s ever-growing portfolio.