The album title consists of four names that need no introduction: Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort. These rap icons justly claim themselves as architects of West Coast hip-hop. As Mount Westmore, they’re a supergroup whose presence is etched in the California landscape.
Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, E-40, and Too $hort also represent a wave of old-school rappers sustaining recording careers well into their 50s, long after the hits have subsided, and fans have moved on to fresher trends. (Tellingly, they snark about “IG” and TikTok.) New work by first-wave golden-age heroes tends to be throwback affairs that hearken to the past – Chill Rob G’s recent Empires Crumble is a recommended example – or pop confections where the elders gamely try to party with the kids. Throw Snoop into the latter category: last summer, he scored a top 10 Billboard hit with BTS and Benny Blanco on “Bad Decisions.”
Yes, Uncle Snoop’s guileless ability to personify the “How do you do, fellow kids” meme is what makes him so beloved to everyone. It may also be why he sounds slightly bored on Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort. This is very much an Ice Cube affair, and he sculpts this album in his loud, punchy, hard-funkin’ style. Too $hort acquits himself well, too, striking a balance between musty pimp raps and surprisingly effective community-oriented lyrics. E-40 remains a style ambassador, gliding with his liquid, off-center flow. Snoop is a dutiful presence by comparison, though he occasionally gets a good verse in, like when he reminisces about attending the legendary Fresh Fest arena tour in the Eighties as a young hog on “Do My Best.” All four men are multimillionaires with innumerable business ventures, and this Mount Westmore project was originally planned for release in 2021. One gets the sense they had to align their busy schedules before they found time to drop it.
Thankfully, Snoop, Cube, 40, $hort doesn’t dabble in newfangled gimmicks like trap and drill. The music is no frills G-funk and mob music. Part of the fun is scanning the credits for all the OGs who contributed, like Rick Rock, Soopafly, Battlecat, Fredwreck, Droop E, Ant Banks, and Simon “ProHoeZak” McKinley, whom some diggers may recall for his Nineties single as C-Funk, “Coconut in Ya Lime.” Even Cube’s old NWA partner Dr. Dre drops in to say what’s up on “Too Big.” Incidentally, that song might be the album’s best concession to current tastes since it’s produced by P-Lo, an East Bay star who also garlands “Too Big” with its chorus.
Otherwise, this is a grown folks’ party. There are some goofy lines from the four GOATs about threesomes on “Motto.” “We burn rubber, me, her, and her lover,” raps Snoop. Ice Cube keeps making references to old pop lore like TJ Hooker and Clash of the Titans. “It’s a new day, still got the AK/If these bitches want to take it back to 88,” he warns on “Big Subwoofer.” The quartet settles into a zone about midway through the 16-track album, and “Have a Nice Day,” “Ghetto Gutter,” and “I Got Pull” all satisfy. They also offer plenty of “Free Game” to the kids who happen to wander into the room. “I see the homies outside, sellin’ crack/There’s no way out if you stuck in the trap,” raps Too $hort on “Ghetto Gutter.”
The beats are generally good, but the choruses are often perfunctory excuses to get from one verse to the next. The days when these four could drop hooks like a gut punch have largely passed. And Ice Cube, whose political storms include a “Contract with America” meeting with former President Trump, remains prone to saying shit like, “We’re victims of elites” on “Have a Nice Day.” However, it’s also a ridiculously thrilling moment. Cube talking reckless, Too $hort as the pimp with a heart of gold, E-40’s deep slanguage, and smooth ol’ Uncle Snoop: this is Mount Westmore’s appeal to their graying base.
“If I had four of my favorite rappers on a track/I would expect it to have some slaps that sound like hella far back,” raps E-40 on “Do My Best.” “I would expect it to have some shit like this to make me reminisce/When I was up in the dope game, having my money, getting rich.”