Since the death of Tupac, the incarceration of Suge Knight and all the bad blood associated with the alleged Mafioso-like business tactics of Death Row Records, the West Coast has gradually lost its reign over the rap world. Recent albums by Kurupt (despite its hateful diatribe against DMX, which he has since recanted) and a rejuvenated Dr. Dre, however, have brought some respect back to the West Coast. And with Snoop Dogg's new project on his newly formed label, Dogg House Records, the Doggfather aims to firmly re-establish Cali -- and himself -- as the mover and shaker in gangster rap. And to some extent, he succeeds.
Tha Eastsidaz has more in common with the classic G-funk sound of Doggystyle than the frenetic New Orleans bounce of his disappointing No Limit debut, Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told. Though Snoop swears he's still a No Limit soldier, he enlists Long Beach partners Tray Deee and Goldie Loc to let everyone know he hasn't forgotten where he's from. The sound replicates some of Snoop's best Death Row material, to mixed results. After all, do we really need another interpolation of Funkadelic's ghetto anthem "One Nation Under a Groove"? Snoop apparently thinks so -- he utilizes it extensively on the opening cut "Now We Lay 'Em Down." There's far worse material to sample, of course, but its inclusion here reads as a calculated rehash of the formula that made Death Row kingpins in the '90s. Starting off with yet another skit praising "that sticky icky icky icky" chronic, the disc proceeds to mine all the cliches, (think haters, hoes, money, blunts and guns) associated with gangster rap.
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But despite the lack of groundbreaking material, the synth-funk and booming bass still sounds banging. The first single, "G'D Up," has a characteristically laid-back L.A. sound, and has to be one of the most unabashed gangster-pride songs ever to hit commercial radio, albeit with edits. Goldie Loc spouts "I'm a gangster Crip/C-walking holding on an extra clip"; Snoop follows with "I'm a Long Beach East Side/Mad-ass lunatic gang-bang slap a bitch nigger/Out to get a grip." Snoop is back. It's just too bad he's knocking off the same old predictable targets.