Wherever he is with Him, Snoop Dogg's double-CD Bible of Love from earlier this spring continues to be a gift that keeps on giving.
Snoop Dogg featuring Charlie Wilson "One More Day" (RCA Inspirational music video)
"Blessing Me Again" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yWJ2DdZjTzU
"One More Day" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPmAxzEJpWA
If cherry-picked just so,Snoop Dogg's double-CD Bible of Love from earlier this spring could yield radio hits for a couple of years in a soul gospel world where second singles from any given project that climb the format's airplay chart very high are a rarity. Plus, the man whose parents named him Calvin Broadus has seen fit to unleash three videos for Bible songs so far. Anyone with Dr. Dre and Martha Stewart on speed dial can probably afford the cost of filming multiple promo' clips from the same album with or without his label's backing; but it seems the Doggfather doesn't merely have racking up sales and streaming totals on his mind in the two divergent mini-movies that follow the set's first vid', his joint venture with B. Slade/Tonex,"Words Are Few" (see my review of the album for that), itself rather epic in sonic and visual iterations at seven-plus minutes.
"Blessing Me Again" is arguably the more curious of the project's two latest videos. Herein, he with lead billing hosts The Blessing Me Again Gospel Telethon (BMAGT), with what look like the choir ladies from the "Words" clip handling the phone bank. The set resembles what may be a kind of low-rent, gold tinsel-curtained public access cable set-up employed by preachers Dogg may have seen on TV growing up in Southern California. Aptly enough, it also resembles what Chuck Barris may have had constructed to demo' The Gong Show.
The telethon exists in a bizzaro parallel universe where Tupac Shakur from heaven (of course?!) calls BMAGT celebrity helper Sammy Davis, Jr. (who died six years prior to 2Pac), as impersonated broadly by In Living Color alum Tommy Davidson, to let Snoop know, per one of the late gangsta rapper/actor's hits, "I ain't mad at ya." Davis/Davidson later in this simmering mess rips a 14-karat gold chain off his neck to auction for whatever cause the event is funding.
Then there's Rance Allen. In a better world, Allen's robust baritone would have broken through to some pop success in addition to the intermittent gospel-to-r&b crossovers his eponymously-named and funky-as-anything group had from the early '70's to the early '90's. His beaming smile in this silly setting signals that he's either deeply in on whatever joke is going on here or blithely oblivious to it. In "Blessing" proper, Allen acts as the hook-and-bridge singer sandwiched between a couple of at least semi-autobiographical rap verses from the former pornographer and current game show host* who has given Rance his highest profile since The Rance Allen Group's "Miracle Worker" cracked Billboard's urban contemporary singles top 40 27 years ago.
Doggy Doog isn't content to let a legendary singer and his band mimic along to their current top 15 gospel radio hit. Mid-song, the "host" breaks into the tune to introduce Mike Epps in the role of dancing pastor Rev. Godfrey Goodfoot. Belying his name, Goodfoot isn't that great a dancer. It doesn't stop the gals in the choral robes from shouting out the James Brown song title shared wth Epps' character's name. The clip ends wth Broadus, Allen, Davidson and Epps bidding goodbye to the viewers, as Jerry Lewis, Lou Rawls and others have at the conclusion of telethons of yore.
The YouTube comments debate below the video's placement there is to what degree, if any, Dogg is spoofing the church. If it's a lampoon of African-American congregational life that allows doctrinally wobbly hirelings-as opposed to shepherds-to live in hedonistic luxury at the price of their flocks' offerings, that's certainly worth taking humorously to task. Snoop has, however, included a vocal sample of no less a wolf than T.D. Jakes on a Bible track, so who really knows what's on his mind? Perhaps the video for his partnering with Charlie Wilson, "One More Day," offers a clue.
It's a longer, more narrative treatment of the song at hand than the Allen collab's clip, but there's less to unpack from it. An elderly dad walks urgently toward the camera upon receiving a a phone call from his young adult daughter who's trying to kick a drug habit. She admits weakness and...bam! Pop picks up her limp body from a dry bath tub and puts her on a bed. He must go to the same church as Snoop, as the same choristers from the album's other two videos join him around the bed to pray for the gal's recovery.
Cut to Snoop and Wilson, erstwhile leader of '70's-'80's Oklahoma funk monsters The Gap Band and more recently one of the most consistently popular acts on adult r&b radio, belting an ode to His daily grace. Occasionally interrupting that free-spirited traipsing about are scenes in that same bedroom, with the two singers (really only Wilson singing;Snoop lip-syncs, but methinks he's not really on the track) joining the praying throng. Both still in their loudly suave, patterned smoking jackets from the rooftop shoot, Snoop both intercedes aloud and leads everyone in an a cappella rendering of the old spiritual-cum praise & worship chorus, "Jesus Is On The Main Line."
Not to give a spoiler alert, but since gospel music is supposed to be about (the) good news, take your own guess as to whether the OD victim recovers if you've not already watched the video. Notably, as seems to be the case for so many gospel, r&b, hip-hop and Southern soul promo's nowadays, "Day"'s director is given a prominent opening credit. That man behind the lens, Dylan C. Brown, has worked with Dogg on direct-to-home video movies including Horror In The Hood and Boss'n Up. My limit in research for this review lies in my lack of desire to look up any of Brown's and Snoop's previous work together to see how this six and one-half minutes of breeziness intercut with melodrama rates in comparison with those cinematic marvels. Sorry!
It's the soul gospel community that has embraced The Bible of Love who may truly end up being sorry if this latest stylistic galavanting of a performer who rechristened himself Snoop Lion five years ago with the help of a Rastafarian priest in order to indulge in reggae. He has also made known his appreciation of country, specifically Johnny Cash, so if the gospel market cools off for him, dude could become a hick-hop rapper for his next musical move. It would be cruel to wish him anything other than true salvation, but until he shows further fruit of that, he's making some bold, odd statements in the visuals accompanying his latest artistic phase.
A thoughtful, Scripture-inclusive reflection on the Snoop Dopgg-goes-gospel phenomenon from an articulate, unbiased observer:
*In a five minute clip of the latest episode of his reboot of "The Joker's Wild" I was able to access from the website of the basic cable channel running the show, he references the game's "big ass" slot machines and jokes about getting "blazed," which contextually seems to be a marijuana reference. Here's praying for him.