Part 34 of a series that will run every Friday throughout 2012 as I discuss records that have affected me throughout the years – Flashback Fridays

The early 90’s were a very strange time period. As someone who was in high school from 1991 to 1995 (yes, I graduated) I saw the mainstreaming of the Grunge era as the G-Funk era simultaneously exploded on MTV and radio stations. You would think that these two very different genres (fuzzy rock n roll VS gangsta rap) would also have two very different fan bases – but it wasn’t quite like that. My friends and I would listen to all the latest CD’s – it was very common for me to swap out my Nirvana and Pearl Jam CD’s for Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggy Dogg. Personally, I’d listened to a bit of N.W.A. a few years earlier and had really loved what I heard – it couldn’t prepare me for the 1 -2 punch of Dr. Dre’s The Chronic and Snoop Doggy Dogg’s Doggystyle. I love both records, but I slightly prefer the paranoid world that inhabits Snoop’s record.

Let’s get something out-of-the-way – there is offensive language scattered throughout the record. This is a snapshot of Snoop’s world in the early 90’s – a personal account of the Los Angeles gangsta lifestyle. In the summer of 1994 I finally had my driver’s license (just shy of my 17th birthday) and was STILL blasting this record, months after release (it was released in the fall of 1993). I will never forget hanging out with friends who were dating at the time. As the night drew to a close we went to a park and unfortunately, I didn’t have a girlfriend at the time. As my friends made out (or god knows what else) in their car I decided to just chill and blast some Snoop. I kid you not, my friends eventually stopped whatever they were doing to let me know how offensive my music was. I had to laugh at the irony – people breaking the laws of the faith who stopped to preach to me about the dangers of gangsta rap. That being said – I view this record (and similarly minded records) in the same light as movies that feature necessary violence and compelling story lines. If you have ever seen Dirty Harry, Scarface, or The Passion, you can handle the stories contained within.

Let’s picnic inside of a morgue….(album breakdown)

Bathtub – the album opens with a cinematic vibe – Snoop in a bathtub (the title is very accurate) with a woman friend when some of his friends stop by to vent about the gangsta lifestyle. Features a sample of Curtis Mayfield playing in the background

G Funk Intro – things kick into high gear with this track. Dr. Dre’s synthesizer based background (known as G-Funk) is instantly memorable, yet seems to have a more ominous tone than his production work on his 1992 record The Chronic. Strangely, Snoop is mostly just on the chorus while The Lady of Rage raps some verses and George Clinton provides hilarious spoken verses. Dr. Dre adds some “Yeah and ya don’t stop” tidbits. Features a sample of Strawberry Letter #23 by The Brothers Johnson (it was written by Shuggie Otis).

This is just a small introduction to the G Funk Era
Everyday of my life I take a glimpse in the mirror
And I see motherfuckers tryin to be like me
Every since I put it down with the D-R-E

Gin and Juice – party type song but again – the G-Funk comes in waves of darkness. Snoop’s rapping style is harder than the Snoop you may know from recent hits. The chorus is one of those choruses that will get lodged in your brain after hearing it just once. The video is classic (embedded at the bottom of this article). Key lyrics:

With so much drama in the L-B-C
It’s kinda hard bein Snoop D-O-double-G
But I, somehow, some way
Keep comin up with funky ass shit like every single day

The Shiznit – Hilarious, filthy introduction by a very special radio DJ before dark bass invades my speakers. Snoop is rapping in a more low-key fashion with a flute type sound high in the mix. Features samples from Parliament (not a huge surprise there) and Billy Joel. Yep – I’m talking ’bout Mr. Allentown, PA himself. See if you can spot it when you listen to this track. I’ll probably repeat myself throughout this review but the feeling of dread and paranoia is incredible. “Boy it’s gettin hot, yes indeed it is / Snoop Dogg on the mic I’m about as / crazy as Biz / Markie”

Lodi Dodi – a cover of the Slick Rick classic. An homage to one of Snoop’s idols, updated for 1993. A lighter, funny track. A nice way to break the mood for a bit.

Murder Was the Case – Starts out with a drive by shooting of Snoop and segues into a vision of eternity. Snoop either sells his soul or is given a 2nd chance at life. Very cinematic feeling to this song. Dark, dark vibes – it is amazing to think that this was a hit single. Snoop had gone through an unfortunate personal situation that he was on trial for around the time of this record – to that end, these lyrics feel lived in. I’ll never forget the 1994 MTV Music Awards performance of this, with Snoop declaring “I’m innocent” (he was later vindicated in a court of law). Eerie all the way through. Key lyrics:

I think it’s too late for prayin, hold up
A voice spoke to me and it slowly started sayin
“Bring your lifestyle to me I’ll make it better”
How long will I live?
“Eternal life and forever”

Serial Killa – Hands down, this track has always been my favorite Snoop song. Features a sample by the Ohio Players and a hard beat. Raps are by Snoop, RBX, Kurupt, and Daz. The tracks title is chanted in an altered voice preceded by the ominous words “suicide, it’s a suicide”. G-Funk synths are perfection. With all of that being said, my favorite verses to ever be rapped on a Snoop record are not by Snoop. RBX has these immortal lines:

Deep, deep like the mind of Minolta, now picture this!
Let’s picnic inside a morgue
Not pic-a-nic baskets, pic-a-nic caskets

Who Am I (What’s My Name) – Snoop’s version of Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” – 70’s funk with laid back rapping over top of the Parliament, Funkadelic, and George Clinton samples. If you are a teen of the early 90’s, you’ll recall that this song was inescapable. Catchy and lighter vibe. “Now just throw your hands in the motherfuckin air / And wave the motherfuckers like ya just don’t care”

For All My Niggaz and Bitches – the chorus is incredibly catchy, with an outlook that shows almost no hope. Really heavy track featuring a sample from Funk Inc.’s “Kool is Back”. It turns into a chant like breakdown as the synths swell up in the mix. A deeper, lesser known track (probably due to the track’s name) but necessary.

Ain’t No Fun – This is another deeper album cut, loses the paranoia and dread for a funk workout featuring X rated lyrics. Features a sample by Isaac Hayes. Snoop’s verses are tight and the overall vibe reminds me of the Homebase album by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince from 1991.

Doggy Dogg World –  Blends some of the pop elements of the singles with the darker vibes of the album tracks. Features The Dramatics, Kurupt, and Daz. The G-Funk on this track sounds like it could soundtrack the movie Boogie Nights. Dark verses / light chorus. Key lyrics:

Prepare for a war, it’s on, I’m head huntin
Hit the button, and light shit up like Red Dawn
Peep, the massacre from a verbal assassin
Murderin with rhymes packin Tec-9’s for some action

Gz and Hustlas – Introduction is an all time favorite as a teacher asks kids what they want to be when they grow up. When he gets to the kid version of Snoop and asks him what he wants to be he replies “I wanna be a motherfuckin’ hustla, you better ask somebody”. It then segues into a ridiculously catchy track with Snoop whispering / rapping “This is for the Gz, and this is for the Hustlas / This is for the hustlas, now back to the Gz”. Ominous synths in the background, coming to the forefront during the incredible chorus. Snoop’s rhymes are very tight and do not sound forced or lazy. Perfection.

Pump Pump – fast paced, Snoop laying down some incredible verses. The chorus is repeated throughout the song. Features a reggae styled interlude several times, so those of you upset with his recent reincarnation as Snoop Lion – it has always been an undercurrent of his music. A perfect concluding track

Now you can look to the Sun, and spot the moon
And see Snoop Doggy Dogg step into the room
With the G funk, he funk, she funk, we funk

I have enjoyed various albums and singles from Snoop Dogg (he dropped the Doggy after his 2nd record), but this is the one that I always come back to. My memories are very connected to this album, so it is difficult for me to compare other Snoop records to this one. Snoop has a very large personality and continually reinvents himself – more power to him. In 1993 he was a hungry 19 year old rapper ready to take on the world. He succeeded in spectacular fashion. Join me next week as I talk about an album that is intertwined with the Jersey shore – the Eddie and the Cruisers soundtrack by John Cafferty and the Beaver Brown Band.

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