Snoop Dogg dips into dance on new album Bush with help from Happy's Pharrell Williams

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - Hip-hop giant Snoop Dogg is out with a new R&B-tinged album called Bush. As for why he chose the title, let's just say he likes bush.

"I love trees. I love grass. I love bush," the 43-year-old rapper said Wednesday night as he previewed his album at a Hollywood club.

Bush can have multiple meanings, and the cover of Snoop Dogg's 13th studio album offers a literal interpretation with neatly manicured shrubbery.

But Snoop Dogg is also well-known through his lyricism for his love of other "bushes" - marijuana and women's private areas. (It remains far less likely that the album title refers to the US political dynasty.) Whatever the inspiration, the album comes out on May 12 and offers an R&B-influenced dance feel to the rapper who long ago mellowed from his start as a gangsta rapper.

A first single, Peaches N Cream, builds off a funky bassline as Snoop Dogg is joined at the mic by R&B singer Charlie Wilson. Snoop Dogg has also announced the participation of R&B legend Stevie Wonder on the album.

The crowd-friendly dance sound shows the influence of all-star songwriter Pharrell Williams - creator of the viral hit Happy - who produced Bush in its entirety.

Snoop Dogg said that he put his full trust in Williams, with whom he collaborated more than a decade ago for hit songs Beautiful and Drop It Like It's Hot. "On this project, I was like, you do what you want. His whole team got to Frankenstein me," he said.

Snoop Dogg said that he and Williams have developed a respect for each other.

"I loved what he was doing and he loved what I was doing," Snoop Dogg said.

"We started a journey together in terms of making music," he said.

With both artists well into their careers and their 40s, Snoop Dogg said they decided artistically that it would be better for Williams to take charge of the whole project.

Williams has had an active career as a producer and collaborator. He worked with French electronic duo Daft Punk on the Grammy-winning album Random Access Memories and co-wrote Robin Thicke's smash hit Blurred Lines - which a jury controversially found to have been stolen from Marvin Gaye's Got to Give It Up.

Bush is Snoop Dogg's first studio album under the name since Doggumentary in 2011. The California rapper has been keeping active with side projects and in 2013 released a reggae album under the name Snoop Lion.

Snoop Dogg, delivering a keynote address this month at the South by Southwest festival, announced that he will produce a television show for HBO. The show will focus on a family living in inner Los Angeles during the 1980s and will explore the effects of president Ronald Reagan's social policies, he told the conference.