Snoop Still Has Some Bite

On the segue before the song "Freestyle Conversation" on Snoop Doggy Dogg's new album, a naysayer says word has it that Snoop's production will be "delicate" without the assistance of Dr. Dre, the producer who discovered him and constructed the sound of his hit debut, "Doggy-style."

"Delicate? Beats?" Snoop replies. "Is that all I am now, a beat? I don't give a [expletive] about no beat."

What "Tha Doggfather" proves is that, yes, Snoop still is one of rap's most electrifying performers. But unlike "Doggystyle" and the "Murder Was the Case" soundtrack, few of the beats on this album rival his rapping prowess.

It's like watching Robert De Niro working with a director other than Martin Scorsese. He's one of America's greatest actors no matter whom he collaborates with, but together they inspire each other to stellar heights. DJ Pooh, Daz and Priest "Soopafly" Brooks, who teamed to produce "Tha Doggfather," are among the West Coast's best producers, but the Dre-Snoop chemistry is not easily duplicated.

The album isn't entirely without bite. The title track is the epitome of cool smoothness. Over a slow-rolling Daz and DJ Pooh track, Snoop warms up the charm, reminding you that before all the notoriety over his recent murder trial, he was making headlines for his verbal flow. (When he mentions the trial, he manages to be defiant yet humble: "I ain't trying to floss, but . . . murder was the case that they lost.")

"Freestyle Conversation" is just that, an Outkast-style exercise in which Snoop speaks a mile a minute, but still manages to maintain a funky rhythm. "Gold Rush" is a funky pistolero track, but the album's real gem is a remake of Biz Markie's "Vapors."

"Tha Doggfather" may not be "Doggystyle," but Snoop shows that he has the prowess and the talent to survive.


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