snoop-doggystyleSlava P wrote this while wearing Coolwater Cologne.

You’re sitting in the passenger seat of a car. It’s a hot, muggy Los Angeles afternoon and you’re with your friend in his low-riding convertible, cruising down the boulevard as the wind gently pushes upon your jehri curl. The soundtrack for your excursion consists of melodic synthesizers, a deep bass, slow grooves, and the occasional background female vocals. You friend passes you a smoldering joint as you both sit in silence, listening to rhymes about fornication and felonies ooze through air, delivered in a lazy drawl where the words seemingly blend together in a syrupy flow. This is what listening to Doggystyle should feel like. Unfortunately, it’s not an experience that’s easy to mimic, nor is it a time frame that one can revisit.

That’s why, upon having to retrospectively review Doggystyle, a classic in the hip-hop canon and one that I missed out on in my early years, I was faced with a horrible problem: I didn’t like it. It’s not that I didn’t like the lyrics, or the beats, or the songs as a whole, it’s just that I couldn’t consider it great. For me to consider an album great it needs to be thematically timeless, sonically irreplicable, and act as a solid touch-point for the artist’s future career. If I were to listen to this album in a vacuum, I would adore it. However, knowing what happens to artist, the producer, and the genre itself, it takes too much away from the project for me to be able to enjoy it in 2013.

The album acts as a blueprint for what gangsta rap should sound like. It’s angry, threatening, direct, scary, and rooted in reality. Doggystyle was released just one year after the Rodney King Riots in May of 1992, a race riot that turned LA into a warzone for days and painted that area as violent and unstable in the years to come. Those events undoubtedly painted Snoop’s worldview and caused him to be mindful of what he decided to put on wax. The rapping in Doggystyle starts off celebratory with the “G Funk Intro” and “Gin and Juice,” before shifting to serious in the middle of the album with “Murder Was The Case,” “Serial Killa” and “Who Am I.” It then stays fairly serious with a healthy pinch of bravado for the remainder of the album with songs like “Gz and Hustlas,” and “Pump Pump.” With this type of output, Snoopy was giving the public exactly what they needed at the time: something jubilant but done with a sneer.

Dr. Dre’s production skills are on full display. The way that Snoop’s lackadaisical flow snaps perfectly into Dre’s drums is special, and no song seems to overstay its welcome. The record is broken up with interludes and skits that feature distinguishable characters and are comical without trying too hard. It’s the archetypal example of g-funk — second only to The Chronic in how it mixes the high-pitched synthesizers with the booming drums to give you a distinctly West Coast feel.

All of the videos are highly cinematic and almost all involve characters with defined personalities and etched-out roles. They feature parents, pimps and animorphing canines. With these, Snoop both took over MTV’s time slots while redefining the way that music videos should be shot and shining a light on the community that he grew up in. None of the videos from Doggystyle were explicitly violent, but they also never gave you the impression that they were made from a safe place.

So with all of the above being said, why do I still not like this album? I guess my problem is that some things never change, but most things do.