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Snoop Dogg 

Tha Blue Carpet Treatment (Geffen)

Tha Doggfather does much more than just show up on his eighth solo outing, though the same can't be said for Pharrell and R. Kelly, who once again lather the tracks with squishy R&B. On "Vato," a refreshing and rather startling chunk of low-rider G-funk, Snoop's nasal whine recaptures the ominous vibe that originally hooked listeners (especially when he threatens to go into his trunk). Indeed, Snoop carries the lyrical weight to prove that he's serious, reminding listeners of the days before indifference and celebrity complacency did him in. And raise your hand if you thought the hip-hop salute "Imagine" could not only help squash the longstanding beef between Snoop and his old pal Dre, but also inspire the duo to spit some of the most moving rhymes of their careers. As it turns out, it doesn't, but Tha Blue Carpet Treatment almost makes up for it.

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