Snoop Dogg - Biography
By David Downs
American rap icon Snoop Dogg (born Calvin Broadus, Long Beach, 1972) helped define West Coast gangster rap and is one of the most prolific and successful of the '90s superstars, thanks largely to a genuine lyrical gift, as well as a durable persona that assimilated his cultural ascendance. Beginning in 1992 with producer Dr. Dre.'s octuple-platinum The Chronic, Snoop stated he was king of the streets through a sinuous, serpentine, and relaxed yet menacing vocal delivery. Solo debut Doggystyle (1993-Death Row) went straight to number one on the Billboard 200. Charming yet violent, Snoop was a street-certified, Crip-affiliated Compton resident with a hit album and a murder case against him. He beat the charge and scored back to back number ones with Tha Doggfather (1996-Death Row) and Da Game Is to Be Sold Not to Be Told (1998-No Limit). Six more albums followed and Snoop moved to Geffen. Tha Last Meal (2001-Geffen) went to number four on the Billboard 200 and Ego Trippin (2008-Geffen) hit number three. Snoop has had a hit TV show, E!’s reality series Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood, and has appeared on fifty-six film and TV soundtracks, acted in forty-four productions and played himself in in one hundred and eighty TV and film appearances. The avowed marijuana smoker and has a long history of legal intrigue. In addition to his murder charge, he has endured drugs and weapons charges. A husband and father of three children, the self-described pimp has struggled with fidelity, sobriety and fatherhood. He is the head coach of the Pomona Steelers, part of the Snoop Youth Football League and remains easily one of the greatest rappers alive.
Broadus was born in 1972 and nicknamed Snoop by his mother due to his looks and love of the cartoon Peanuts. Snoop played quarterback in high school, but he also ran with the Rollin' 20s Crips in Long Beach, one of the most notorious street gangs in the nation. In 1990, after receiving his diploma, Broadus was arrested for cocaine possession and was imprisoned. Snoop also grew up steeped in funk music, and was eight years-old when Hip Hop first rumbled out of the Bronx. Rapping was a community activity to pass the time and Snoop began recording homemade tapes with friend Warren G. G was the stepbrother of legendary N.W.A. member Dr. Dre. Warren G gave Dre a tape of Snoop and musical history took a fated turn.
Snoop says older Crips pushed him toward rapping during his intermittent prison stints. And Dre validated that push when he heard Snoop's real talk of street life and gang wars with literary detail, deep tone and almost pathological restraint. His soothing menace cut through the West Coast noise. Snoop verses appeared on Dre's theme song for the film Deep Cover, but Snoop contends he was already a star of the hood where he rapped, assaulted people, copulated voraciously, and hung with the most dangerous compatriots in America.
The Chronic (1992-Death Row) was Dr. Dre's solo album, but Snoop's four tracks including "The Next Episode", and "Nuthin' but a G Thing, Baby" helped it sell eight million copies. It blended Parliament/ Funkadelic beats that Broadus grew up on, high-pitched melodies, samples, and super-gangster lyrics caricaturing life on the streets. To white mainstream audiences, it bespoke a terrifying inner city world they'd never heard of. To sociologists: Snoop and Dre's caricatures validated the theory that there would be an equal and opposite reaction to the institutional racism of modern America. The American Dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness is achieved in the narratives of The Chronic via the only avenues available to the underclass: avenues paved with drugs, guns, extreme violence and systemic exploitation of women.
Doggystyle (1993-Death Row) launched Snoop's solo career. Produced by Dre, it's considered a Hip Hop classic, entering the Billboard 200 at number one and selling 802,858 copies in its first week. By 2003 it had sold seven million copies. Single "Gin and Juice" proved to be monster, with its sample of Slave's "Watchin' You" and George McCrae's "I Get Lifted". Single "Who Am I? (What's My Name?)" displayed Broadus' true roots, with its inclusion of bits of Parliament's "Give Up the Funk (Tear the Roof Off the Sucker)", Funkadelic's "(Not Just) Knee Deep", George Clinton's "Atomic Dog" and Tom Browne's "Funkin' 4 Jamaica".
With every break comes a setback, though. Snoop's record label was controlled by one Suge Knight, arguably the most feared man in the record business. In 1993, Snoop was charged with homicide. He was found not guilty, but Death Row had other problems. In late 1995, Tupac Shakur signed to the label and was murdered a year later in Las Vegas. The next year, Suge got a nine-year prison sentence.
Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told (1998-No Limit) saw Snoop move to Master P label No Limit out of Richmond, CA. Singles "Slow Down" (I Can't Take The Heat), "Still a G Thang", and "Woof!" helped Da Game debut at number one on the Billboard 200 and the record was certified double platinum later that year. Snoop began acting at this time and would go one to dozens of film and tv roles.
Suge threatened Snoop's life while he was in jail, he has told the press, because he had left the crumbling Death Row empire. No Limit Top Dogg (1999-No Limit) featured hit single "Bitch Please" with Xzibit and was produced by Dr. Dre. It went to number two on the Billboard album chart and then went platinum in 1999, containing such notable singles as "G Bedtime Stories", "Bitch Please", and "Down 4 My N'z". Tha Last Meal (2000-No Limit) featured production by Dre, Timbaland and Scott Storch and "Snoop Dogg (What's My Name II)", "Hennessey N Buddah", "Lay Low (Snoop Dogg song)" helped it sell yet more millions. In 2001, Knight got out of prison and Snoop went public with his hatred for the former strongman. He wrote a song called "Pimp Slapp'd" and called Knight a bitch and committed himself to killing Knight if necessary. Knight backed off.
Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss (2002-No Limit) featured producers The Neptunes and sold millions, again. In 2003, Snoop walked the red carpet at the MTV Awards with two women on leashes, ostensibly prostitutes named Delicious and Cream. R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece (2004-Geffen) saw Snoop move to Geffen and go double platinum with singles "Drop It Like It's Hot", and "Let's Get Blown". In May 2004, Snoop divorced his wife and reportedly began pimping full-time. He took twelve dates to one Players Ball and won the Bishop Don Magic Juan Lifetime Achievement Award. In late 2004, pimps told him to return home, he has stated. He ended divorce proceedings with his wife.
Tha Blue Carpet Treatment (2006-Geffen) exhibits classic Snoop collaborating with a huge ensemble. Produced by The Neptunes, Rick Rock, Timbaland and Dr. Dre, it contains work from George Clinton, Nate Dogg, R. Kelly, Damian Marley, The Game, Akon, Ice Cube, Jamie Foxx and Stevie Wonder. Singles "Vato", "That's That Shit" (featuring R. Kelly), "Candy (Drippin' Like Water)" (feat. E-40) and "I Wanna Fuck You" took it to number five on the Billboard 200. Conversely, Ego Trippin' (2008-Geffen) focused more on Snoop alone, with added production from Raphael Saadiq, and debuted at number three on the Billboard 200 chart and is on its way to also selling millions. It does feature Mistah F.A.B, and Too Short.
Malice in Wonderland was made with producer Dr. Dre and released in 2009. He has told the press he wants to work with rock icons like U2, the Rolling Stones and Madonna. Broadus' exceptional life has only gotten more exceptional in his later years. Snoop re-released the record in 2010 as Malice. In 2005, Crip founder Tookie Williams told Snoop to work with children before Williams got executed by lethal injection. Since then, the father has become a certified amateur football coach. In 2006, Broadus was arrested at John Wayne Airport for possession of weapon, and in Burbank, for possession of marijuana and a gun. In 2011 he released Doggumentary, and in 2013 his next record, entitled Reincarnated, will be issued.
In closing, Calvin Broadus turned a rather typical and potentially tragic life on the mean streets of L.A. into the material for a extraordinary adventure, donning the persona of Snoop Doggy Dog, or later Snoop Dog -- a pimp, player, gangster, hustler and rapper. Through nine albums and millions upon millions of record sales, the lyrical artisan took West Coast gangster rap right into the heart of middle America and across the globe. He expertly communicated a particularly virulent and brutal strain of the American Dream living and dying on those streets. Unlike Kurt Cobain -- another cultural pole of the '90s - Broadus' persona proved capable of assimilating the attendant, massive international fame and fortune. As such, with every hit record and gun charge, Snoop became more and more the man he was always talking about over Dre's funky beats: a consummate aesthete, an amoral brute -- an artistic contradiction that became the lodestar of his generation.