Robert Christgau: Dean of American Rock Critics

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Consumer Guide Album

Snoop Dogg: Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told [No Limit, 1998]
It would be a pleasure to dismiss Calvin Broadus's evocatively entitled No Limit debut as another piece of lowballing funk off the N.O. Bounce assembly line. But the lead "Snoop World" is the kind of track that can make an album, playing a synth-bass hook over a real bass line and under triangles and other high elements that never hint at G-funk keyb tweedle, and over the next few songs, cameos from No Limit's two best rappers, Mystikal and Mia X, clear the way for the unoriginal gangsta bull-roar of Master P and his brothers. But despite considerable input from Mystikal--whose deep-Delta bellow tenses powerfully against Snoop's honey-tongued indifference, adding moral weight to the usual professions of "ex-drug dealer" rectitude--the music soon runs down. And though Snoop is surely just a rapper now, he'd no more risk alienating his market than help a Blood's grandma across the street. Da game he's selling is sociopathic violence, and so he commits metaphorical murder, invites thugs to wave their gats in the air, cuts a biyutch improvident enough to suck his dick, and so forth. In short, he proves himself a born liar, showing all the imagination of an ATM in the process. Anyone who counts him a major artist because he can drawl and pronounce consonants at the same time should give equal time to Mariah Carey's high notes and George Winston's magic fingers. C+