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December 01, 2006 - Image 6

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The Michigan Daily, 2006-12-01

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6 - Friday, December 1, 2006

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

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Legends release fat joints

By LLOYD H. CARGO
Daily Music Editor
Willie Nelson and Snoop Dogg initially
seem like an odd pair. What do an aging
gangsta rapper and
an even older coun-
try-pop icon have in
common? Both are Willie
American icons whose Nelson
celebrity has eclipsed Songbird
the fame their music Lost Highway
initially broughtthem.
SnoopDoggreleased
one great album, Dog- *
gystyle, 13 years ago,
was arrested as an Snoop Dogg
accomplice to murder, Tha Blue Carpet
was the face of gangsta Treatment
rap in the '90s, made Geffen
a couple of porn flicks
and now he's doing commercials for heavy-
weights like AOL, Nokia, Chrysler and XM
Satellite Radio. My mother couldn't name a
single Snoop Dogg song, but she sure as hell
knows who he is. Similarly the majority of
this campus couldn't name a Willie Nelson
song, but I bet most admire the man any-
way.
So again, why does America love this
recidivous, corn-rowed rapper and grizzled
Nashville hippie? How can Shotgun Wil-
lie be so staunchly anti-government (he
refuses to pay taxes, at one point accruing
a $16.7 million debt to the IRS), extremely
pro-environment (he has his ownbiodiesel)
and be so blatantly far-left socially, and yet
still be loved in the same South that skew-
ered the Dixie Chicks for the minor crime
of being "ashamed" of Dubya? Despite their

very real transgressions, all is forgiven and
both are seen as fun-loving, gentle and rela-
tively harmless - all thanks to their asso-
ciation with marijuana.
For Willie, it's less a part of his art than
for Snoop, who broadcasts his 420 friend-
liness in nearly every song. Still, Nelson is
straightforward with his love of weed, as he
is with most things - witness his position
as an advisor to NORML and his cameos
in "Half Baked" and the recent "Beerfest."
When GQ magazine wanted to smoke with
the two most famous stoner musicians, they
tracked down Snoop and Willie. (For the
record, Willie's was fantastic homegrown,
but not nearly as powerful as Snoop's -
which rendered the writer unable to move
for many hours.)
The point is, these lovable stoners have
gained enough of a reputation thatthey can
do pretty much whatever they want. Only
Willie Nelson could release a reggae album
with a huge cannabis leaf on the cover, his
first such foray into the genre at 72, and have
it be as good as 2005's Countryman. Only
Snoop could leave Death Row Records for
Master P's No Limit Records and not totally
kill his career. That's why it shouldn't be too
surprising that while these two musicians
both take chances on their latest albums,
they are by and large successes.
Willie Nelson's Songbird is yet another
seemingly odd collaboration that works
marvelously. Nelson tapped the talented
and mercurial Ryan Adams to produce,
and even let Adams brings his own backing
band, The Cardinals. The result is wide-
open electric rock/blues like nothing in
his back catalogue, but it sounds natural
nonetheless. The song choices are simi-

larly inspired, with two Adams originals,
four Nelson tracks, and covers of tunes like
Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah" and Gram
Parsons's "$1000 Wedding." As talented as
Adams is, he hasn't necessarily shown the
greatest judgment in the past, but he clearly
broughtthe best out of Nelson.
Snoop also leans heavily on his guests
with Tha Blue Carpet Treatment. Some of
the songs work well, like "Imagine," fea-
turing Dr. Dre and D'Angelo and "Conver-
sations," with Stevie Wonder, and some
are head-scratchers. "Which One of You"
featuring Nine Inch Dix? Eww. "I Wanna
Fuck You" with Akon? Gross. The good
outweighs the bad, but with only one track
withoutguests, it's hard for the album to be
all that cohesive.
But who really expects that from Snoop?
Those of us suffering from short-term mem-
ory loss will have forgotten track two by the
time they get to track 21 anyway. All that
matters is that each is a banger.
Neither of these albums rank among the
best for either artist, but both have earned
a right to do whatever they want anyway.
As long as Willie Nelson still acts like Wil-
lie Nelson, people will continue to love him,
even if his music is getting increasingly dif-
ferent from what his core audience expects.
He's supposed to take chances. So is Snoop,
and his recent arrest won't change the fact
that most people view him as a big soft,
velour-tracksuit-wearing teddy bear. All
Snoop has gotto do is rhyme about herb and
a gangster lifestyle he's clearly left behind
and people will keep loving him. The only
real question that remains is when will
these two get together? Now that would be
the highest of collaborations.

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courtesy of Geffen/Lost Highway
TOP: Snoop Dogg. Where's the endorsement for Visine? BOTTOM: Willie Nelson. What you don't
see: the crip flag hanging out the left side.

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