To be perfectly honest, I don’t know why the phrase “Dogg Pound Gangsta” has relevance any more in 2005. I know Snoop Dogg and Daz Dillinger throw it around on a regular basis, but to me it implies a bygone era when Death Row Records was still relevant and Snoop could annoint a new force in gangsta rap just by saying “these are my homies.” Boom, like that, instant credibility. To this day 10 years later, Dogg Pound’s “Dogg Food” debut is still a seminal classic of hardcore hip-hop. Capitalizing on this success would prove to be near impossible, as Death Row started to crumble with the high profile departure of Dr. Dre and the nearly three year wait for a follow-up to Snoop’s debut in 1996. Death Row tried to right the ship by signing Tupac Shakur, and for a brief moment in rap history the paths of Kurupt, Daz, Snoop and 2Pac all crossed. Not long thereafter Shakur was gunned down, Snoop left for the friendlier confines of No Limit Records, and Kurupt moved back to Philadelphia to launch his own solo career. 1998 saw Daz respond by releasing a solo album for Death Row, but even he saw the writing on the wall and eventually struck out on his own with DPG Recordz, now also known as Gangsta Advisory Recordingz. Despite one attempt at a reunion with Kurupt in 2001 and an album of unreleased tracks in 2004, Dogg Pound was and essentially is dead as a group.
Of the two, Daz Dillinger seems to be the one most interested in keeping the flame alive. While Kurupt’s solo albums come fewer and farther between, and his membership in conceptual groups like the “Four Horsemen” never seems to get off the ground, Daz is putting out at least one to two albums a year of varying quality. Sometimes he unites with someone else to handle the rhymes, such as on his “Long Beach 2 Fillmoe” duet with JT the Bigga Figga. Other times he goes for delf with rhymes AND beats on albums like “This Is the Life I Lead,” but ends up succeeding on only one of two fronts (beats in that case). He came as close to even keel as his solo career ever has on 2003’s “DPGC – U Know What I’m Throwin’ Up,” but he’s been relatively quiet since then. It was only a matter of time though before Daz came back with another solo album, and Daz makes no bones this time about claiming the heritage of the Dogg Pound all for himself. That’s odd really, considering the aforementioned “also known as” which changed DPG Recordz to Gangsta Advisory Recordingz. On one hand he’s declaring himself champion of a bygone era, and on the other he’s distancing his record label’s name from both his Death Row heritage and his former partnership with Kurupt. I won’t pretend I understand the logic, but regardless Daz is back with “the West coast sound that you always wantin” as he raps himself on “That’s the Way We Ride,” the opening track of the “Dogg Pound Gangsta LP.”
The beats continue to be a strength for Daz, as the album flows through a set of songs that you can by turns either cruise to or get buck to. “Do You Think About” mines the same track that 2Pac’s “Keep Ya Head Up” did, but after so many years it’s good to hear it back in rotation. “Everybody Givin’ it Up” is a light G-funk bounce that anybody in a sunshine state like California will want to drop the top to. “Nothin’ Can Stop Us Now” takes the G-Funk straight to P-Funk, and goes so far with the throwback that even George Clinton drops in on the track. There are also a couple of guest beats, such as Fredwreck’s somber and smooth melody for “Fuck Dreamin’ the Same Dream” and a Soopafly co-produced bass banger on “Gettin’ Buccwild.” Otherwise Daz is rolling on his own through heavy tracks like his 2005 update of “My Ambitionz Az a Ridah,” light tracks like “Come Close” featuring Nate Dogg, and hilariously raunchy tracks like “Bomb Azz Pussy.” Despite what you might think from the title though, Daz’s sound has evolved to the point “Dogg Pound” no longer describes it accurately. In fact the only two songs which wouldn’t feel at least a little out of place in the Death Row days are “Get a Dose of Dis Hot Ish” and the album’s brutal but short closer “Fuck Tha Police 2005”:
“What the fuck y’all police stoppin me fo’ – cause I’m black and I’m young?
Think I’m pushin crack and packin a gun?
The motherfuckin police wanna sweat me constantly
25 to life is what the judge wanna offer me
They put me down and beat me down on the street
With that badge you ain’t shit fuck a C-O-P, uhh
Young nigga got it bad cause I’m brown
Wanna complain about my loud-ass sounds
Wanna give me a ticket, but you know what you can stick it
You crooked, you bitch-ass, you punk-ass bigot
Fuck the police, that’s what a nigga yellin out
When I’m up in them cells when I’m chilled out
Fuck justice, fuck peace
Everywhere I go all my niggaz yellin out – FUCK THE POLICE!”
Ultimately there should be no shame in Daz’s game as he steps forward into the second half of this decade. He doesn’t need to rely on the Dogg Pound name any more, as his beats can handle the streets and he has matured into a very competent (if at times cliches and a little uninspiring) MC on the mic, in many ways upstaging his former partner Kurupt if not on volume of material recorded and released alone. If Daz had named this album “The Gangsta Advisory LP” it would have been just as good and would sell just as well, and since Daz seems to no longer be interested in taking potshots at former labelmates or CEO’s, that might have been the best choice. Still if there’s anybody out there who has earned the right to claim “Dogg Pound” other than Snoop Dogg himself, Daz is clearly that man. “Tha Dogg Pound Gangsta LP” is not his best work to date, but fans and listeners won’t be dissapointed by what he’s offering here, and there’s undoubtedly much more to come.