Snoop Dogg – Paid Tha Cost To Be Da Bo$$ (3LP) (Used)
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Though Snoop Dogg never slipped from the charts, Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$ smacks of a comeback, and it's a great one. After finally being released from No Limit (he's still distributed by Priority), Snoop Dogg drafted a set of great producers for his sixth album, as well as a varied cast of featured guests capable of drawing in just about every segment of the hip-hop audience. Still one of the smoothest rappers around and the bemused observer of all around him, he slips on the tried and true pimp and godfather personas, but also has the nerve to feature an X-rated sex romp ("Lollipop," with Jay-Z and Nate Dogg) directly after a tender anthem to love and marriage ("I Believe in You") -- and sound extremely convincing with both. The pair of tracks produced by the Neptunes ("From tha Chuuuch to da Palace" and "Beautiful") are the highlights, two of the best they've done since their commercial breakout. Hardcore fans of rap, though, will want to skip ahead to "The One and Only" for a perfect meld of West Coast and East Coast -- the first meeting of Snoop and DJ Premier on wax. (Premier also turns in a hilariously cartoonish production for "Batman & Robin.") Yes, there are a few missteps: The G-funk roll on a few tracks sounds a little dated, and Bootsy Collins impersonator Mr. Kane makes a few embarrassing appearances ("Stoplight" is a bland, unnecessary update of Parliament's "Flashlight"). And two other remakes sound OK, but won't have a long shelf life. The first is virtually a cover of Eric B. & Rakim's "Paid in Full" called "Paper'd Up," and it's immediately followed by a redo of Robert Palmer's Jam & Lewis anthem "I Didn't Mean to Turn You On" ("Wasn't Your Fault"). You've got to be a strong figure to keep together an album this long and this rangy, but Snoop Dogg is up to the task.
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