Normally, hearing that a rapper is preparing a 32-track album is cause for concern.
Yet, Snoop Dogg these days is less a rapper than a multichannel entrepreneur and media personality. Just look at how he spent the lead-up week to his new album “Bible of Love” (out Friday), his first release on his new gospel record label All the Time Entertainment. His venture capital firm Casa Verde closed its debut round of funding with $45 million, which focuses on making investments within the cannabis industry. He posed for photos with Elon Musk and voiced his support for London Breed's mayoral run in San Francisco. He teased a new line of shiny gold cleats he collaborated on with Adidas. And, in a development that’s actually related to music, he announced news of his forthcoming Wellness Retreat tour, kicking off April 20 in Denver with Migos.
Snoop is a busy guy, which is perhaps why he decided against recording a full-length rap album and opted instead to curate a sprawling collection of gospel tracks, only appearing occasionally to contribute a verse or share some wisdom on a song’s intro.
And, from a fan’s perspective, it's a master-level decision. In his promotions for “Bible of Love,” Snoop attributes his desire to make a gospel album to his ongoing quest to preach peace and love. That’s the same worldview that inspired the rapper’s ill-advised reggae phase in 2013, where he changed his name to Snoop Lion and clumsily sang his way through his “Reincarnated” album.
With “Bible of Love,” Snoop smartly reserves the album’s vocal duties for names including Faith Evans, Tye Tribbett, Rance Allen, B. Slade, Kim Burrell, Charlie Wilson and more. Snoop is more a curator than an artist on “Bible of Love,” and when he does drop in to sing a few verses, as he does on the album’s closing track “Words Are Few,” he smartly defers to the gospel experts to carry the track.
With hip hop trending toward super-long, overstuffed releases, Snoop smartly uses the song tracklist of “Bible of Love” to spotlight his army’s worth of gospel stars, making the album’s impressive runtime feel less like an egregious play for streaming numbers than it would otherwise. In reality, the album is 32 songs of spiritual uplift, consistently enjoyable and even moving at times, with Snoop making just enough appearances to remind listeners of his involvement, and doing some soul-baring in the process, like on his spoken-word storytelling on “Pain.”
"A lot of times, you see me performing for thousands of people, filling their hearts with love and joy, not knowing that I'm going through so much pain," he intones. "But God knows everything, and I mean everything, that I'm going through."
Above all, “Bible of Love” is another argument in favor of Snoop’s impressive longevity, not just as a TV host cooking alongside Martha Stewart, but as one of the most prolific rappers of his generation. Ceding the spotlight to curate a gospel album may seem like a cop-out for an artist appearing to be productive, if Snoop hadn’t just released his 15th studio album “Neva Left” in May, a collection of original music that was largely praised by critics.
For Migos, and the other members of hip hop's younger generation joining Snoop on his upcoming tour, the rapper — who, at 46, is hardly a fossil — continues to provide a blueprint for how artists in the genre can continue innovating, and as heard on “Bible of Love,” can continue thriving.