Though hip-hop devotees celebrated Snoop Dogg’s escape from the often creatively stultifying fold of No Limit records, Snoop’s first Master P free release, the sprawling and unfocussed Paid da Cost to be da Bo$$ was hardly the bracing comeback that Snoop fans were looking for. Though Snoop would not succeed in fully rediscovering his drum-tight cadences and effortless drawl until 2006’s The Blue Carpet Treatment, 2005’s Rhythm & Gangsta was a big step in the right direction.The best tracks handily beat anything that Snoop had put out since Tha Doggfather. As the title indicates, Rhythm & Gangsta is built around the shaky conceit that, having proven his mastery of the rap game, Snoop has set out to reinvent himself as a soulful crooner. When listening to Rhythm & Gangsta its best to ignore this notion entirely and skip past the snooze inducing R&B workouts that clutter the record to the surefire bangers. The skeletal clicks and whistles of the phenomenal “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and the vintage G-Funk of “Da Bidness” sport exceptionally tight rhymes from Snoop and production that hearkens back to Snoop’s glory days while remaining compellingly progressive.