Given the mild mediocrity of last years Coolaid and the landmark Doggystyle decades behind him, I had little reason to tune in this time around, however the albums cover intrigued me, a young "Snoop Eastwood" as he might say. The picture was taken in 1992 and the album name Neva Left hinted of something nostalgic at work. Opening with his mission statement, Snoop drops a slick a smooth flow affirming his originality and gangster authenticity over Wu-Tang Clan's classic C.R.E.A.M. Initially I wasn't so sure about the the pairing but like much of the album it grew on me with each spin.
The record has a tight collection of bold beats, mostly with a big and raunchy G-Funk sounds with big punchy synthetic baselines. The songs are lined with tips of the hat to the oldskool, samples like A Tribe Called Quest's "Back in the day" and the occasional use of retro 80s drum machines paint the theme. "Go On" brings the sunny vibes with a classic summer party tune to mellow out to, his guest October London illuminates the song with a swooning chorus that's just infectious. Its not all retrospective though, the records production, handled by many, brings the best of old and new together.
Neva Left is a fantastic statement by Snoop who lays down some of his best rhymes in years, reminding us of his style, persona, attitude and even dedicates a song to his American football league named after himself. It leaves its mark but the record suffers from the same variety that's its strength when songs like "Trash Bags" and "Toss It" cutting in with obnoxious lyrics and trendy beats, the mood suffers. In a stronger light, "I'm Still Here" conjures Snoop Lion and his Reggae love but it sticks out like a sore thumb. Consistency in direction would of served the experience very well.
There are many impressive tracks though, B-Real, Redman and Method Man unite as the four horsemen of weed on the stoner track "Mount Kushmore". KRS-One turns up on "Let Us Begin" with some tight rhymes and brap sounds to blast your ear drums. Snoop brings a lot of guests on, all do there part but the records peak is with "Vapors", a reconstruction of the classic Biz Markie song, the beat is sharp, dense and layered and Snoop's slick flow is perfect for the classic. Its a pleasantly surprising show from the west coast legend who on a handful of songs does his best in decades.
Favorite Tracks: Neva Left, Go On, 420, Lavander, Mount Kushmore, Vapors, Love Around The World