With more producers and guest spots attached to this flotilla than there are actual tracks on the album, Snoop Dogg’s 10th LP tries desperately to evince a party atmosphere. “Mention Uncle Snoopy, he can get you on the guest list,” he promises on “That’s Tha Homie.” But Malice N Wonderland (anxiously awaiting the sequel, Through the Hook N Grass) is overcrowded and undercrunk compared to its uneven but exponentially more ambitious predecessor, Ego Trippin. Having recently been christened as the creative chairman of the rehabilitated Priority Records label, Snoop here comes off as the West Coast don who can’t say no, as if he’s trying to keep his Rolodex fat for future franchise opportunities.
Malice gives off the air of a particularly boastful quarterly report. Sounds like fun, right? A rundown of the most salient bullet points would have to include the return of new jack legend Teddy Riley, whose retro work was all over Ego and who returns to collaborate on precisely one track here, the saccharine-laced piano banger “Different Languages,” featuring vocals by last year’s R&B chanteuse of choice Jazmine Sullivan. Also prominently featured, and new to the Dogg foldd, are two tracks from the mad overworked Tricky Stewart and The-Dream: “Gangsta Luv,” a glossy, vaguely anonymous midtempo club stepper, and “Luv Drunk,” a clean, sparely decorated boudoir ballad that’s luxurious but for Snoop’s plea, “On your lunch break, let me hit it real quick.” (Time is apparently of the essence for Snoop this time around, as the entire album clocks in at a comparatively spare 53 minutes.)
Elsewhere, Snoop maintains solid working relationships on appropriately workmanlike tracks like “Special,” in which Brandy and the Neptunes add up to “Beautiful, Pt. 2,” “I Wanna Rock,” a bottom-up overhaul of Rob Base & DJ EZ Rock’s “It Takes Two,” and “Pimpin Ain’t EZ,” in which Snoop unconvincingly claims he’d never “call somebody ‘friend’ that I wouldn’t kill for.” Judging by the guest list attached to Malice, he’s celebrating a lot of unbirthdays these days.