Snoop Dogg is having the most absurd rap career of all time. For proof, pick a year and simply read off his endeavors. In 1993, he released the G-funk classic Doggystyle, got accused of the murder of a rival gang member, and cut a short film with Eddie Murphy where he strikes a deal with dark forces to get revenge for a gang-related shoot-out. In 2001, he guested on his mentor Dr. Dre’s landmark 2001 album, hosted a porno for Hustler, and starred in Ernest Dickerson’s hood horror flick Bones. In the last 12 months alone, Snoop has delivered an EP titled Make America Crip Again, co-hosted a cooking show with Martha Stewart, revived the ’70s game show The Joker’s Wild, and sold a heartwarming docuseries about his youth football league to Netflix.
This month, Snoop has released a double gospel album called The Bible of Love,which seemed like a quirky PR stunt upon its initial announcement because the prospect of hearing church choirs backing the guy who did “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None)” and “Sexual Eruption” is too hilarious to resist. But like Reincarnated, The Bible of Love never affords you the opportunity to laugh at it. It handles the business of melding the seemingly incompatible worlds of G-funk and gospel with respect for the mechanics of both. The beats bang when they need to, and the choirs sound crisp and inspired. Everyone is singing like their immortal soul depends on those vocal runs floating. Where The Bible of Love differs from Reincarnated is that the music is more than just an opportunity for Snoop to match wares with heavy hitters from another genre. He’s barely even on it. Bible is a warm, wise survey of gospel music’s past, present, and possible future.
That’s a lot of work, and The Bible of Love takes a lot of time to get it done. There are 32 tracks, and played in full, they run narrowly longer than Pacific Rim. Were this exclusively a rap album, the length would seem like another obvious stunt for attention on the charts, but The Bible of Love’s mission, however overbearing the execution might be, is pure sprawl. There’s an EP’s worth of tight, brash gospel trap in the spirit of Deitrick Haddon’s “Great God”and Erica Campbell’s “I Luh God” spread through the project. Singer Sly Pyper and Dogg Pound vet Daz Dillinger’s “Chizzle” and the Jazze Pha vehicles “Crown” and “Changed” all slap like the finest of Atlanta strip-club jams. Charlie Wilson serves throwback talkbox vibes from back in his Gap Band days over the West Coast thump of “One More Day.” Snoop and the controversial Texan gospel lifer Kim Burrellduet on “Sunshine Feel Good,” the most adroitly Snoop-sounding thing on the whole album.