On Friday, March 16, 2018, the good Lord saw fit to release music for the homies through his shepherd, Snoop Dogg. Pun intended. Because shepherd ... and dog. You get it? Right. Snoop Dogg, aka the artist formerly known as Snoop Doggy Dogg, aka Snoop Lion, aka Calvin Broadus of Doggystyle, Murder Was the Case and other sundry endeavors, decided to take it back to Grandmama’s house for a word of praise and worship for the homies in his latest release, Bible of Love.
It’s easy to entirely write off this latest project from Snoop. It’s Snoop. And no matter how many times he’s reinvented himself—successfully—his brand is known for weed, debauchery (though he’s been married for at least 20 years now), gangbanging, pimping and being the world’s most famous member of the Rollin’ 20s Crip gang from Long Beach, Calif.
The vast majority of his music consists of ignorant party jams, misogyny on speed and weed anthems. He’s also tremendously likable, collecting several friends along his career path, and he doesn’t take his success for granted, giving back to his community as Coach Snoop in Los Angeles and now using that universal access to curate a DJ Khaled-style album of gospel names you both do and don’t know, along with some of the secular homies, to praise the Lord on wax.
And you know what? It’s a pretty good record. Snoop smartly plays the background on the vast majority of it, showing up here and there to drop a verse. He gets out of the way so that those of us who struggle with Snoop taking the high road, so to speak, don’t get caught up in judgment, even if Snoop is the reason we’re judging to begin with.
Artists like the Clark Sisters, John P. Kee, Marvin Sapp, Mary Mary, Fred Hammond, Kim Burrell and Rance Allen share space with Charlie Wilson, Daz Dillinger, Soopafly, K-Ci Hailey (taking it back to church), Faith Evans and Jazze Pha (with whom Snoop has a record label featuring artist October London, who is on this record).
Real talk: I went into this project ready to yell all of the heavenly curses, but the truth is, I listened to all 32 tracks and then hit that repeat and my two-step and even picked out favorites. The remix of the Clark Sisters’ “Blessed and Highly Favored” even rides in the whip. I know this because I threw it on in the whip. I regularly listen to gospel-music stations in the car anyway—ain’t nothing like some inspirational praise-and-worship music to get your morning going—and this album will make a decent addition to it.
“Come as You Are” and “No One Else”? ’Bout that life. It’s varied enough in sound and feel that it’s like listening to Erica Campbell’s morning show or the Willie Moore Jr. Show (it’s Willie Mo’, not Willie less!) without the commercial breaks featuring ads for tax relief that I wonder if the white radio stations run.
When Snoop does show up on the record, like on “Always Got Something to Say,” he has verses about church and his grandmother and reading Scripture—basically his youth. Nothing here is going to land on the list of Snoop’s best verses, but they’re exactly what you’d expect a rapper to drop on a gospel album: very on the nose and littered with specifically religious terminology. But Snoop isn’t the reason to check out this album; he’s just the person who put these songs together. Half the time, you can easily forget that he’s even a part of it.
One thing I’ll give Snoop credit for is that there isn’t anybody alive who doesn’t like Snoop, and this album adds to that notion. Snoop has guests like George Lopez, Seth Rogen and 21 Savage on his GGN Network and then pops up on a show with Martha Stewart, and it doesn’t even SEEM unreasonable or like a leap. If you were to tell me that Martha Stewart and Snoop met at Whole Foods and hit it off famously and were like, “Let’s do a show,” I’d entirely believe that as their origin story. Snoop just has that kind of energy.
He’s spent a tremendous amount of his professional life making good on that second chance he got being acquitted in the murder case he caught back in 1993 that threatened to derail his entire life. The way the justice system works, Snoop could easily have gone to prison for life right as his debut album skyrocketed to the top of the charts, leaving us to wonder what could have become of the clear standout star of Dr. Dre’s Death Row Records camp at the time. But he’s made the absolute most of it, and I’m sure he prays to God daily for that reason.
So Snoop dropping a gospel album doesn’t even seem that far-fetched when you think about it. There isn’t anything Snoop hasn’t been willing to try, to varying levels of success. One thing that most of us who grew up in black households know, though, is Jesus and gospel. While Snoop as the conduit may seem odd, the truth is that a lot of rappers spend a significant amount of time toying with their religious leanings in song. Snoop just upped the ante and dropped an album that works because it doesn’t require him to make an entire shift in who he is.
He gets to bring in his homies—who, again, must all love him—and let them do their thing under the umbrella of Snoop bringing love to the world. Thus the Bible of Love, a collection of songs that speak to the experiences of the truth he wants to share.