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Album Review

Snoop Dogg’s ‘Malice’ lacks bite

December 7, 2009

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Hip-Hop
Snoop Dog Malice N Wonderland
Priority/DoggyStyle/EMI
ESSENTIAL “Different Languages’’

Snoop Dogg returns on the resurrected Priority label, and the savvy businessman and MC has his ears attuned to the charts with few surprises and only momentary bursts of inspiration. “Malice N Wonderland’’ is heavily geared toward hot R&B acts from Jazmine Sullivan to R. Kelly and The-Dream, who all supply the vocal hooks to Snoop’s iconic flow.

The album starts with harder tracks - apparently the malice - but none will light the barbecue because we’ve heard much of this before: brain-fried rhymes and some empty verses about still being top D-O-double-G. Of course, Snoop can make his committed rhymes wildly entertaining (“That’s Tha Homie’’), but this is also someone who was once one of the great narrative MCs.

There’s little of that here. You do get a couple of The-Dream/Tricky Stewart productions, including the catchy raunch of “Gangsta Luv,’’ but their approach, like Snoop’s boasts, are overly familiar. Sullivan adds a tart vocal on the fine Teddy Riley-produced “Different Languages.’’ One of the best songs is an iTunes bonus track, “Protocol,’’ where he dogs Lil Wayne; there’s the old Snoop fire.

But much of the rest is much too slick and poppy. More malice and, yes, more wonder, please. (Out tomorrow)

KEN CAPOBIANCO