At this point in his career, it seems like Snoop Dogg will do almost any project pitched to him. Over the last few years, he has guested on songs by Katy Perry, Far East Movement, and Nickelodeon boy band Big Time Rush, appeared on the soap opera One Life to Live (three times, no less), written a song for a True Blood Character, and given a shout out to his “main man” Johnny Cash in the twang-inane “My Medicine”. That said, the postponed film Mac and Devin Go To High School seems right up his alley, a buddy comedy where Snoop and Wiz Khalifa spend time in college getting high in the grand tradition of How High. But, considering the one-note message of this “soundtrack” (“Hey guys, we like weed!”) and the yet indefinite release of the movie it’s supposed to accompany, it’s a little easier to look at this as a joint release (get it?) from two of the rap world’s biggest pot enthusiasts.
While the beats are relatively varied throughout this disc, the content is consistent. The film would appear to be a Cheech and Chong acolyte after all, and as such the first three tracks are called “Smokin’ On”, “I Get Lifted”, and “You Can Put it in a Zag, Imma Put it In a Blunt”. While some great rap about weed has come out in the last year or so (see Curren$y as a prime example), that ocean has pretty solidly been explored. The burbling synths, staccato horn section, and drum line punch of the opening track come together to make a lush impression; the chorus of “you ain’t smokin’ what we smokin’” is pretty boilerplate.
The straightforward-ly titled “You Can Put it in a Zag, Imma Put it in a Blunt” features the two in all of their pot-addled glory, three minutes of Mac and Devin (oh right, these guys are in character) arguing about their preferred methods of pot delivery. This song alone is a good reminder of why Khalifa has repeatedly been compared to the Godfather. Mr. Dogg blazed the trail for Khalifa and his peers, and their respective arguments and flows aren’t all that different. Both sound relaxed, in their element, like this recording session was just any other Tuesday afternoon. That ultimately laid back attitude could kill a lot of other albums, but considering that this is two huge weed icons in character as potheads talking about weed, it’s the only way that this album could work. If these two were even sort of aggressive, it just wouldn’t feel right.
That said, the loose direction of the disc tends to drag on some, especially when the duo insists that you remember that this is a soundtrack. The spoken intro to “Talent Show” finds Khalifa explaining some details about a mixture, talking about its volatility and needing to find a catalyst. It’s a totally unnecessary half a minute, a boring moment in an otherwise solid track. Snoop does the job with two simple words, adding the succinct “marijuana, motherfuckers” as the smooth, funky horns burst in. The catchy, melodic, druggy hook does the trick, no matter what kind of character work you want to try to tack onto it.
Everything said on the Mac and Devin soundtrack is something that Snoop has said before. He’s not offering anything new, and he’s not saying any of the old stuff in a new way. And as his seeming protege in this endeavor, Khalifa’s following directly in those too-similar footsteps. This album is, in a single word, comfortable. I would imagine that this disc would work perfectly to background a lazy, smoky evening, its reasonably good beats ready to wash out over the room, its 4:20 friendly rhymes sure to get some laughs and nods. A couple of tracks, like opening single “Young, Wild and Free” (featuring the smooth pop vocals of Bruno Mars and glitzy Hollywood production) and the aforementioned Curren$y-featuring “OG” (with an amazingly funny Snoop Dogg chuckle intro and sickly smooth, smoky horns), are too good to be “soundtrack songs.” But, in the end, that’s what they are: the good stuff buried in the middle of a lot of mediocre, easy stuff.
Essential Tracks: “OG”, “Smokin’ On”