Snoop Dogg’s 13th album plays like the flip side to Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly: Where Lamar used funk to dramatize the struggles of a Compton native, Bush uses the genre’s rhythmic groove to portray Los Angeles as a smoky, sexy, sunshiny wonderland where every day feels like a block party. The one and only D-O-double G is back home after a minor detour to Jamaica as Snoop Lion — and he’s reunited with Pharrell Williams, his most effective producer since 2000, who helps him dig deeper than ever into the Seventies vibes that have peppered his career.
From the moment opening track “California Roll” hits its “Drop It Like It’s Hot”-ish bass line, Bush is a pleasant stroll down memory lane. Heroes like Stevie Wonder (who plays harmonica on the album opener) and Charlie Wilson (who sings on “Peaches N Cream”) help transport the album to Snoop and Pharrell’s favorite decade. (The intro to “This City” also carries strong echoes of George Clinton, a collaborator and inspiration since Snoop’s Doggystyle days.) Neither of them is a stranger to the rapper — he featured Wilson on 2004’s “Signs” and sampled Wonder on 2006’s “Conversations” — but here they are subtly woven into the mix, rather than just adding some cred to the liner notes.
There’s a timeless quality to Snoop’s goofy charm; when he sings lyrics like “I’m just a squirrel, tryna get a nut,” he sounds looser than most rappers with 20-plus years of experience could ever imaginably be.