Snoop Dogg Presents… Algorithm

Various Artists

Snoop's first job as executive creative consultant at Def Jam Records falls strangely flat, finds Paul Rekret

“My algorithm is going to give you a feeling, not a sound”, Snoop Dogg has said of this compilation he’s put together as part of his new role as an executive at Def Jam. Instead, he seems to have captured the feeling of the algorithm itself, which is to say, the absence of feeling altogether. The album’s first single, a product of new hip-hop quinquageniarian super-group Mount Westmore, made up of Snoop, Ice Cube, E-40, and Too Short, falls equally flat. The booming millennial Bay Area beat is alright, but E-40 is uncharacteristically restrained, Ice Cube’s braggadocio sounds, frankly, a bit silly and, all in all, it has the quality of nostalgia rather than the claim to relevance the song is meant to elicit. The horror-core rolling piano melody on Nottz-produced second single, ‘Murder Music’ evokes post-Cube era N.W.A. and while Benny the Butcher conjures a bit of urgency on his verse, Jadakiss and Busta Rhymes seem all too cursory. On opening track ‘Alright’ Method Man and Redman show they can still muster a groove, but the edges are all gone.

The point isn’t to revel in the currency of youth. In fact, Snoop’s silky drawl and Too Short’s nasal tone have aged exceptionally well. Instead, it’s that collectively this sounds all too much like an automated playlist. Streaming platforms dis-embed music, use metadata to reorganise it according to one logic or another: ‘70s chill’, ‘workout jams’, and so on, so that it acquires a continuous, seamless, monotonous quality. Algorithm has the same effect, though its organising logic seems to be nostalgia for hip-hop before it came to be dominated by Memphis, Houston, and Atlanta, a time when Snoop was still relevant primarily as a rapper and not simply a celebrity. So as each track slips into the next here, they become all the more unremarkable.

There are nevertheless some standouts. Jane Handcock’s ‘Like My Weed’ is a nice bit of R&B; all rimshots, warbling synth melody and delicately autotuned vocals. As the title suggests, this is a song about getting high, “in the mornin’… in the evenin’… when I go to sleep at night’’. But it’s also a modest celebration of those small pleasures seized from the pressures of the everyday. On ‘Qualified’ veteran MC Larry June is wonderfully lackadaisical, he swings around the beat with a loping cadence that refers to mid-2000s backpack rap and yet is perfectly contemporary. All in all, though, a sort of affectlessness emerges here as one songs blend all too smoothly since, not unlike an automated playlist, the whole becomes less than the sum of its parts.

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