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Is there anything Snoop Dogg won't do, endorse or appear in?
Short answer: no. If he'll record a song about Sookie Stackhouse, he's game for anything. And he's earned it. Maybe it's artistic curiosity, maybe it's greed, or maybe it's the excellent hyrdo, but Snoop clearly does whatever he feels like. He made his name with hits like “Doggystyle” and “Gin and Juice," but soon crossed over into everything. He starred in his own reality show Snoop Dogg's Father Hood; has acted in films such as Starsky and Hutch, Soul Plane and Training Day; appeared on TV shows ranging from King of the Hill to Monk to Weeds to One Life to Live; had his own short-lived but surprisingly funny sketch show, Doggy Fizzle Televizzle; has endorsed everything from Orbit Gum to St. Ides; started his own film production company (Snoopadelic Films, proud makers of Hood of Horror); marketed his own malt liquor, clothing lines and pet toys; and still found time to rock prestigious festivals like Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza as an in-demand live act. The world has embraced Snoop as our favorite Dogg, and we will seemingly deny him nothing. Not bad for a guy who terrified white America at the onset of his career (it’s largely because of Snoop’s hard work that Justin Bieber flashes gang signs in his music videos) and was once charged with murder.
Why was Snoop charged with murder?
Before Snoop’s music career took off, he was associated with the L.A.-based gang the Crips. In 1993, Snoop was driving with his bodyguard McKinley Lee when Lee shot and killed Phillip Woldermarian, a rival gang member, in self-defense. Snoop was later acquitted after a lengthy legal battle that inspired the short film and song “Murder Was the Case.” This brush with the law, and the murder of his friend Tupac Shakur, helped push Snoop away from excessively promoting the gangster lifestyle. Sure, he still would occasionally get caught with possession of guns and drugs, and would talk about same in his lyrics (once a G, always a G), but in general his image and lyrics began to focus on partying and the ladies. He also changed his name from Snoop Doggy Dogg to just Snoop Dogg, probably because he realized how silly it sounded.
How did he get started anyway?
Calvin Broadus was born in Long Beach. He began rapping in middle school, and had plenty to talk about. He hung with the Crips and spent time in jail for cocaine trafficking. He stayed focused on his music, though, and formed a group called 213 (Long Beach’s area code at the time) with his cousins and future stars Nate Dogg and Warren G. One of the group’s mixtapes caught the attention of Dr. Dre, who had recently split from N.W.A and was beginning work on his solo debut album. He featured Snoop on 1992's “Deep Cover," a soundtrack song from the crime drama of the same name. The song was an instant hit among hip-hop fans, who had never heard anything like Snoop’s flow, which could be so smooth that it almost seemed like he wasn’t trying, even if he was one of the most nimble tongues in the game. (At the time he told the New York Times that “I treat the beat when I'm rapping like a newborn baby. Even if it's a hard track, what I'm saying will move you, because I'm delicately putting it down.” Interest in future collaborations between the two quickly hit a fever pitch. Snoop featured so heavily on Dre’s debut The Chronic, especially on singles like “Nuthin' But a 'G' Thang” and “Let Me Ride” that the album could reasonably have been marketed as a full-length collaboration between the two. The success of The Chronic created stratospheric anticipation for Snoop’s solo bow. No one was disappointed. His debut album Doggystyle was the first album by a new artist to debut at Billboard’s top spot, and eventually sold more than 8 million copies worldwide.
Does he still make music, or is he too busy doing everything else in the world?
It took Snoop some time to find his post-Style legs. 1996’s The Doggfather was an awkward, uneven reaction to the ongoing gangsta-rap backlash, his split with Death Row Records (which he accused of exploitive business practices) and Dr. Dre (who was still tied to the label), and the death of his friend Tupac. Still, the album performed well, if not on the same level as Doggystyle, and tracks like “Snoop’s Upside Ya Head” still hold up. From there, an unmoored Snoop, perhaps worrying about his commercial prospects in the post-gangsta era, spent several years making forgettable, rehashed music (sample song titles: “Gin and Juice II” and “Still a G Thing”) for the then-red-hot No Limit label.
Yeesh. How did he turn it around?
He started to find his bark again with the 2000 single “Snoop Dogg (What’s My Name Part II”), which featured a memorably bizarre “giant shoe” video, a soul-skrunk Timbaland beat and introduced white America to the modified “-izzle.” He came roaring back fully on 2002’s Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss (still his second best album) sounding like a man that had nothing to prove to anyone and was comfortable to just enjoy himself on future-funk Neptune jams like “From the Chuuuch to da Palace” and playful romps like “Beautiful.” He also took the opportunity to get some things off his chest, rapping “Suge Knight’s a bitch/and that’s on my life” on “Pimp Slapp'd.” Rejuvenated, Snoop has been on a roll ever since. Some albums have been stronger than others, but he can be counted on to drop undeniable head-boppers like “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and “Sensual Seduction” at regular intervals.
He’s quite the accomplished pimp, isn’t he?
Oh, that’s just for the videos, really. Snoop is a more loyal pooch than you might suspect. In 1997 he married his high school sweetheart Shante Taylor. They’ve had their problems—Snoop has admitted to infidelity and filed for divorce in early 2004—but the couple later reconciled and renewed their vows in a public ceremony. He told MTV, "A lot of times you get cloudy. This music industry is a mother, man, and it'll take your vision and blur it. But God is good, so I understand that I need my wife and my kids in my life—so I threw the papers away. So if you hear about a divorce, it'll be my wife divorcing me; it won't be me divorcing her.”
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