Snoop Dogg

Snoop Dogg

If producer Dr. Dre gets credit for crafting the "G-Funk" sound of an entire coast of the United States in the early '90s, then rapper Snoop Dogg (formerly Snoop Doggy Dogg) deserves to be considered the face of this movement. The tall, lean, and striking Snoop Dogg was born and raised in Long Beach, ran with the Crips, and rapped in a calm, relaxed tone. In short, he was unlike anyone that had been seen or heard before. And he was the perfect candidate to represent the West Coast.

Cordozar Calvin Broadus started rapping as a child, and as a teenager formed the group 213 with his cousins Nate Dogg and Lil' 1/2 Dead and friend Warren G. Dr. Dre heard an early demo and brought in Snoop as his protege. Between 1992 and 1993, the two produced a knock-out combination that defined an entire genre of music: Dre's debut single "Deep Cover," Dre's seminal album, The Chronic, and Snoop's own debut album, Doggystyle, all on Suge Knight's Death Row Records, exported G-Funk to the masses. With the help of this triplicate success, Snoop quickly became an icon, and he helped make Death Row an institution.

With that credit quickly came the criticism. Snoop was involved in a murder trial. He was called out for writing violent and misogynist lyrics. By the time of the mid-'90s, the violence in his recordings exploded in real life when his peer Tupac Shakur and then-rival Notorious B.I.G. were killed in separate drive-by shootings. In 1996 he finally released a follow-up album The Doggfather, but Dr. Dre had already left Death Row over a contract dispute and the label had begun to crumble.

In the late '90s and early '00s, Snoop distanced himself from controversy and developed a longer-term brand for himself: the pimp. He recorded three albums for No Limit Records and one for Priority/Capitol, all of which were characterized by his cultivation of a calmer (though no less misogynist) pimp personality over his gangsta side. Simultaneously, he ventured into television and film to broaden his reach as an entertainer. By the time of Snoop's 2004 album, R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece, and its hit single, "Drop It Like It's Hot," his image and music were ready for primetime (i.e. malls, weddings, and other places/life-events requiring a soundtrack).

While Snoop enjoyed his broadening appeal, his next two albums, The Blue Carpet Treatment and Ego Trippin', found him increasingly flirting with his gangsta past. Regarding his 2009 album, Malice N Wonderland, Snoop noted, “No matter how many times I’ve been around the world or how many awards shows I’ve been on, there is still real shit out there in these streets." In 2010 he drove this point home by reissuing Malice with bonus tracks as More Malice. Perhaps for the sake of his new generation of fans, Snoop seems intent on cementing his reputation as the Doggfather of this gangsta shit. ~Dan Nishimoto

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