[Doggystyle; 2021]

“I don’t do much” – the words may have come from Beanie Sigel, but they’re more attributable than ever when it comes to hip hop legend (and, hell, general cultural icon) Snoop Dogg’s last few years. This is far from a dig: to the contrary, it’s been a veritable breath of fresh air to watch him ease into a space of comfort from, in particular, the nostalgia show of 2017’s Neva Left and onward. Many rappers more or less waste their later years chasing the dragon of their sales peak (see: Eminem) rather than simply having some damn fun with it. Snoop had his own last gasps, from the awkwardly presented (if surprisingly listenable) Snoop Lion phase to the sheen of the (underheard and underrated) Pharrell-helmed BUSH. Even 2016’s Cool Aid boasted some swings for the charts, while beginning to see him settle into his current lane.

It’s a path we’re lucky he coasted onto. His latest in this smoked out comfort zone is From tha Streets 2 tha Suites, a low-stakes, blessedly brief affair that’s all the more fun for its focus and trimmed run time, with tha Doggfather clearly seeming to have listened to shots fired at his mostly fine, yet bloated I Wanna Thank Me. Plopped out with little promotion right on 4/20 (it markets itself), at just 10 tracks and 34 minutes, it’s the perfect length for an enjoyable little listen (or, of course, quick smoke sesh). It’s Snoop, whose voice seems to sound good on simply anything, at his loosest and most carefree.

This isn’t to say the album lacks attitude. When he focuses, Snoop is still able to ego trip with the best of them, as evidenced by the likes of quotable barbs such as, “Play Superman, I’ll be your Kryptonite / Took this n**gas citch cuz she’d rather fuck a Crip tonight,” bursting out on “Talk Dat Shit to Me”. Meanwhile, catchy single “Roaches in My Ashtray” finds the veteran coming after all the broke stoners hanging around poorly for the free high, poised with tactful delicacy somewhere right between tongue-in-cheek mirth and genuine annoyance. “Sittin on Blades”, by contrast, slows things down to a two-mile-an-hour slide, a delectable slice of glacial G-funk that feels every bit the golden hour LA drive it emulates.

It’s also refreshing to hear Snoop mining his old sounds – and one hopes his upcoming West Coast legends super group project, Mt. Westmore, stabs a similar vein – simply because these are beats not all too often heard any longer. Mustard, Drakeo the Ruler, and the like may rule Cali currently, but for those of a mind to occasionally return to memory lane, there’s supreme pleasure to be had in hearing Snoop Dogg opening an album in 2021 with a reliable, well-worn Rick Rock beat. Indeed, the playful yet forceful bounce of “CEO” proves an early highlight, with Snoop musing on just what it takes to reach – and maintain altitude at – his level. It’s worth mentioning that penultimate track “Look Around” is transplanted from a 2006 mixtape, and the fact that it slips right into the mix without trouble illustrates both how ageless Snoop is and how smoothly he’s reconnecting to his past here.

The guests all get in the mood, with the album effectively bridging the gap between generations. Ultra-prolific relative newcomer Larry June provides his conversational best for Bay Area tribute “Get Yo Bread Up”, the ever-reliable Mozzy burns through the sinister glide of “Gang Signs” (Snoop also gets in some serious boasts: “I bet you never blew with Obama”), and even Tha Eastidaz reunite for aggressive old school romp “Fetty in the Bag”. All of this is without even mentioning Devin the Dude, Kokane, or Snoop’s current favorite producer/hook man, ProHoeZak.

In many ways, From tha Streets 2 tha Suites feels like (and likely is) an appetizer for the approaching event of Mt. Westmore, but it’s a more than fulfilling one. An earnest, breezy affair from a legend who surely needn’t have provided it – it goes down all the smoother for it.

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