Whenever music history buffs debate whether The Chronic or Nevermind can be rightfully labeled the most influential album of the early ‘90s, Snoop Dogg’s career is routinely referenced in favor of the former. While far from the rapper with the most classic material overall to his name, the Long Beach native née Calvin Broadus still ranks unquestionably among the most universally-recognized hip-hop artists in history.
The quarter-century of success which earned him that label largely stems from his prominent contributions to his mentor’s 1992 landmark debut, on which he famously announced: “One, two, three, and to the four, Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the door.” A classic introduction, and both parties involved remain omnipresent to this day.
Listen: “Sho You Right” (feat. Shon Lawon) – Daz-N-Snoop
Another rapper who was “at the door” with Snoop and Dre at that time is Daz Dillinger, who helped make songs like “Deeez Nuuuts” among the most entertaining entries to The Chronic’s tracklist. Daz never became much of a household name, but he has released albums almost annually for twenty-some years and remains close with his cousin of greater fame, Tha Doggfather himself. While the two have collaborated regularly before, Cuzznz marks their first time clearing the way for a Watch the Throne-style full-length joint release.
As the cover photo from the early ‘90s suggests, this album is a pretty deliberate nostalgia project. References to both artists’ “heydays” are peppered throughout: one track is even named “Six in da Morning,” after a line from 1993’s “Gin & Juice,” which may still be Snoop Dogg’s most culturally ubiquitous single ever outside of “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” Several tracks bring back Kurupt, a longtime collaborator and former Death Row Records labelmate to both artists. And all of the lyrical material is exactly the same, more or less, as it was back in Snoop and Daz’s early days.
Sadly, therein lies the problem: it’s exactly the same. And no one even remotely familiar with Snoop Dogg’s music should have any trouble predicting what topics he raps about here. He has never been one to be celebrated for his thematic variety; even his first and still best album, Doggystyle, was applauded far more for its rich production and clever wordplay than its penetrating subject matter, especially in contrast to other classic hip-hop debuts from this era like Illmatic and Ready to Die. However, after over two decades of enormous musical output and limited lyrical experimentation, it takes quite an effort not to feel exasperated by yet another round of this sex-and-weed talk.
Granted, Snoop is hardly the only middle-aged rapper for whom this is an issue. How menacing does 40-year-old 50 Cent sound spitting lines like “I ain’t fresh out the hood, I’m still in the hood” from inside his 17-acre Connecticut mansion, for instance? Nonetheless, hearing a man who is 44 years old and has been married for 19 of them attempting to entice “all my homies from the hood” to “do the dic walk” is beyond unflattering — even less so when that line somehow gets transformed into a chant-along chorus. And the album gets far more risqué than that, rest assured. The result quickly becomes something of a dull and tiresome affair.
When the album hits its high points, it’s more thanks to the production than anything else. The record puts its best foot forward with the opening track “Have U Eva,” on which Dam-Funk provides an impressive funk-inspired beat which serves as yet another homage to the signature sounds of Snoop and Daz’s ‘90s work. More solid production is sprinkled here and there, and the occasional catchy chorus on songs like “Phenomenon” does breathe life into the record at moments.
Listen: “Bestfriend” – Daz-N-Snoop
On the final track, “We’ll Miss You,” the duo show their sensitive side by unveiling their feelings for their deceased uncle. In a sense, this song is comparable to “Lil Ghetto Boy” (featuring vocals from both Snoop and Daz) on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, not to mention “The Message” on the Good Doctor’s follow-up, 2001. All of these tracks represent detours from the far raunchier content which dominates the rest of their respective albums, meaning they may not fit in very well with the rest of the record but at least they show that the rappers involved are capable of thoughtful subject matter, if only for the briefest of moments.
Unfortunately, aside from highlights such as these, Cuzznz largely represents a missed opportunity for the two veteran rappers involved to create more exciting, involving, and simply better music than what has ultimately made the cut here. The album is a novelty in the sense that Snoop and Daz have never recorded a full-length album together, but it is a tired rehash in virtually every other sense possible. Even longtime fans of these two cousins will likely have a hard time feeling compelled to grant this album more than a couple of spins.