For a rapper who made his debut on an album named The Chronic, putting out a release titled Stoner’s EP might seem redundant, even twenty hot-boxed years after the fact. Sure, Stoner’s EP threatens to bring the game’s most cannabis-enamored MC into the realm of self-parody, but the manner in which Snoop Dogg sidesteps this fate is worthy of plaudits in and of itself.
All indicators point to Stoner’s EP being a minor addition to the Snoop Dogg canon, but even Snoop’s lesser artistic offspring have a better chance of yielding quality tracks than most MCs’ major releases. For a release whose production, cover art and raison d’etre boast frequently of their debts to the chronic, Stoner’s EP is a surprisingly lucid piece of work. It appears that the release’s most befuddled aspect involved nothing more than some confusion as to how many tracks constitute an Extended Play.
1500 or Nothin’, Battlecat and Josef Leimberg all contributed production to the 10-track EP, knitting a stylistic palatte remarkable both for its cohesion and quality. West Coast hip-hop, and Snoop Dogg in particular, has favored a relaxed affect and Stoner’s EP derives some surprising mileage from flickering drums, nylon-string guitars and lyrics laid down at the volume of a whisper. “Stoner’s Anthem”, “Weekend Lovers” and “Need It In My Life” qualify simultaneously as hip-hop tracks and slow jams without sounding like they necessarily set out to be either.
In terms of its lyrics and production, Stoner’s EP hits its mark without any apparent anxiety as to the pressures of commercialism or artistic statement. This underlying ease makes the EP uniformly enjoyable, even if it allows for laxity in the lyrical department.
Snoop carries the lion’s share of the vocal duties on Stoner’s EP, welcoming guest verses on only four of its 10 tracks. To the surprise of no one, weed forms the EP’s thematic backbone, with diversions into Snoop’s gangster credentials and his preference for “all them broads” forming lesser parts of the EP’s thematic framework.
When subjected to transcription, Snoop’s lyrics tend to cling by the barest threads to comprehensibility, though lines like, “Meditating let it ride, rock’a’by baby bye” make sense, somehow, when delivered in his snake-charming mumble. It’s not that Snoop isn’t trying on Stoner’s EP; it’s that he knows this is the qualifying round, wherein the pressure to sell has yet to rear its monolithic head.
Earlier this month, Snoop and Wiz Khalifa announced that Mac and Devin Go to High School, a stoner comedy showcasing the duo, had nabbed a distribution deal with Anchor Bay Films. Even if Stoner’s EP didn’t contain an overt reference to that movie, the EP would still play like an advertisement for a larger project. Stoner’s EP bears the thankless fate of having been designed for disposability. With any luck, it will wind up enjoying a reputation in the Snoop Dogg canon as one of his better bits of commercial debris.
Album Rating: 3.5 stars (out of five)