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‘No Limit Top Dogg’: Snoop Dogg Mixes G-Funk and Dirty South

The album stands as the moment Snoop regained his status as a rap top dog.

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Cover: Courtesy of Priority Records

Snoop Dogg wasn’t an underdog in 1999, but he was no longer an infallible rap titan, either. Amid a vicious East Coast-West Coast rap war, his mentor Dr. Dre had left Death Row Records, Snoop’s friend Tupac Shakur was shot and killed, and Death Row subsequently imploded. Snoop was looking for an escape. He found it in Master P’s ascendant No Limit label. With P in the middle of a level up, it was a promising relocation. Inevitably, Snoop’s first album for the label was a bit of a teething process for both parties. The follow-up, 1999’s No Limit Top Dogg, was a proverbial course correction for one of rap’s most iconic voices.

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Top Dogg succeeds by merging Snoop’s past and present. Snoop reunited with Dr. Dre, who previously helped make him a superstar with bouncy production that evoked peak G-Funk majesty. Dre’s tracks like “Buck ‘Em,” “Just Dippin,” and “Bitch Please” embody sinister, West Coast cool — an aesthetic Dre would perfect on 2001. Gliding across the tracks, Snoop flaunts his natural charisma and customary agility for tracks that are as stylish as they are infectious, with Sticky Fingaz lacing “Buck ‘Em” with one of the most memorable hooks on the LP.

Order Snoop Dogg’s No Limit Top Dogg on vinyl now.

Snoop’s No Limit comrades bring the heat, too. Fusing a lethal Issac Hayes sample with a growling Magic hook and an icy Snoop verse, “Down 4 My N’s” is a posse cut with towering, anthemic stature. Meanwhile, “Gangsta Ride” is a perfect push-pull collab that pairs Snoop’s seductive ease with Silkk The Shocker’s kineticism. Threaded by Snoop’s swagger and production that oscillates between Cali and Dirty South aesthetics, the album shows Snoop fully comfortable on Master P’s label.

Upon its release, No Limit Top Dogg debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 albums chart, and earned Snoop the critical adulation that had eluded his previous two releases. While this album has arguably been overshadowed by 2002’s Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss, No Limit Top Dogg stands as the moment Snoop regained his status as a rap top dog.

Order Snoop Dogg’s No Limit Top Dogg on vinyl now.

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