Longevity is a difficult distinction to achieve in the rap game. It’s hard to consistently deliver quality work for three to five years, let alone decades. However, back in the ’80s and ’90s, this career progression was compounded by the real threats to rappers’ lives, such as gang culture and gun violence.
Snoop Dogg, everyone’s favorite hip-hop uncle, has outlasted his competition and the harsh circumstances that threatened to hold him back. With some choice refreshments in hand, Uncle Snoop has watched it all unfold in the industry: lethal rivalries, generational shifts, and the genre’s evolution.
After all these years, there is at least one thing that remains a constant in the rap industry: the relevance and popularity of Long Beach’s favorite child.
|October 20, 1971
|Long Beach, California
|Snoop Doggy Dogg
|Jerry Carter (half-brother)
Bing Worthington, Jr. (half-brother)
|Cordé Broadus (b. 1994)
Cordell Broadus (b. 1997)
Julian Broadus (b. 1998)
Cori Broadus (b. 1999)
|Shante Taylor (m. 1997)
|Most Successful Songs
|“Gin and Juice”
“Drop It Like It’s Hot” (feat. Pharrell)
“Who Am I? (What’s My Name?)”
“Beautiful” (feat. Pharrell)
|Estimated value of $150 million (as of 2022)
|17x Grammy Award nominee
Favorite Rap/Hip Hop Artist, 1995 American Music Awards
Winner of Best Collaboration for “Beautiful” (feat. Pharrell), 2003 BET Awards
Winner of Hot Rap Track for “Drop It Like It’s Hot” (feat. Pharrell), 2005 Billboard R&B/Hip-Hop Awards
|June 15, 2022
The West Coast icon was born Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr. in Long Beach on October 20, 1971. His birth dad, Vernell Varnado, served during the Vietnam War; and his birth mom, Beverly Tate, was an evangelist who would become an author later in life.
Just three months after Calvin was born, Vernell left the family. As such, Calvin was primarily raised by his mother, who went on to marry Calvin Broadus, Sr. (Snoop took his name from his stepfather, whom his mother divorced when he was four.)
As a boy, Calvin showed plenty of promise. He sang and played piano at their local Baptist church, was active in football, and did his schoolwork diligently. When he was in the sixth grade, he began displaying rap skills, much to the delight of the students in his school.
However, hopes of a trouble-free future were dashed when Calvin started getting involved in criminal activity after graduating high school. The teenage Calvin would get in and out of prison for drug possession charges. He also happened to be a member of the Rollin’ 20 Crips Gang.
Music became a way for Calvin to escape the cycle of jail. He began recording demo tapes with his cousin Nathaniel “Nate Dogg” Hale and his friend Warren Griffin III, also known as Warren G. The trio of Broadus, Hale, and Griffin would take on the name 213, which was then the area code for Long Beach. The members of 213 collaborated on one another’s songs for several years and even released a gold-certified studio album (“The Hard Way”) in 2004.
The Discovery of Dogg
Broadus got his big break when a mixtape with one of his freestyles landed in the possession of Dr. Dre. The producer from Compton was going through new beginnings of his own; having left the N.W.A. and Ruthless Records. He was set to be the co-founder of Death Row Records with Suge Knight. Upon hearing Broadus’ work, Dre arranged to meet with the up-and-coming Long Beach rapper.
Broadus, who go on to take the name Snoop Doggy Dogg, received mentorship from Dre and his former N.W.A. cohort, The D.O.C. Then, in 1992, the first collaboration between Dre and Snoop has released: the title track of the 1992 action film Deep Cover (which starred Laurence Fishburne and Jeff Goldblum).
That same year, Dre released his first solo studio album, The Chronic. While this album is distinguished by its innovative G-funk sound and Dre’s brilliant production, it is also powered by the fresh style of the young lion Snoop. Somehow, his drawling delivery was a perfect compliment to his hard-hitting lines about violence, drugs, and women.
The most popular cuts of The Chronic—“Nuthin’ but a G Thang,” “Fuck wit Dre Day (And Everybody’s Celebratin’),” and “Let Me Ride”—all feature verses written and performed by Snoop. There is no denying that Snoop was instrumental in the success of The Chronic, which received a 3x platinum certification and a Grammy win.
A Strong Debut
In November 1993, Snoop Dogg released his first solo album entitled Doggystyle. The album was a critical and commercial success that firmly cemented Snoop as a force to be reckoned with in the ’90s hip-hop scene. Doggystyle kept the momentum of G-funk going strong, and, whereas Snoop was a trusty sidekick on The Chronic, his debut album allowed him to showcase the full extent of his unique style.
On Doggystyle, Snoop effortlessly lays rhymes about the gangster lifestyle; he deftly shifts from celebratory tones (“Gin and Juice,” “Who Am I?”) to downright grim pronouncements (“Murder Was the Case”). In the history of rap, Doggystyle is hailed as one of the strongest debut albums (alongside classics like Nas’ “Illmatic” and Jay-Z’s “Reasonable Doubt”). It has since been certified 4x platinum.
Murder Was (Indeed) The Case
As successful as Doggystyle was, a dark cloud loomed over the mainstream waves that Snoop was making. Just three months before the album’s release, Snoop was involved in a lethal shooting incident that almost cost him his freedom and career.
On August 25, 1993, Snoop was driving in a Jeep with his friend Sean Abrams and his bodyguard McKinley “Malik” Lee. As they drove past a park, they caught sight of members from a rival gang. One of them, Philip Woldemariam, exchanged heated words with Malik. Tensions rose to the point of guns being drawn, which unfortunately resulted in Woldemariam getting shot by Malik.
Snoop, who immediately drove his group away from the crime scene, was charged with first-degree murder for the death of Woldemariam. (His bodyguard Malik was likewise charged.) The shooting occurred in 1993, but Snoop’s trial didn’t begin until November 1995.
In February 1996, both Snoop and Malik were acquitted. (Snoop would go on to channel the notoriety of his murder charges in the song “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” his 1996 collaboration with Tupac Shakur.)
Immediately after being cleared of his charges, Snoop went to work on his second studio album. Though he no longer had Dr. Dre by his side (as Dre had just left Death Row due to his problems with Suge Knight), he was aided by talented producers like Daz Dillinger and DJ Pooh. In November 1996, Death Row released “Tha Doggfather,” a stylistically similar album but thematically distinct from his debut album “Doggystyle.”
Whereas “Tha Doggfather” doubled down on the G-funk flavor that Snoop helped to popularize, its lyrics generally exuded a more positive tone. “Tha Doggfather” did not garner the same critical acclaim as its predecessor (though it managed to go 2x platinum). It was also the rapper’s last album under the stage name Snoop Doggy Dogg.
No Limit Records
Like Dre, Snoop would run into his issues with Suge Knight, including withheld royalty payments. This resulted in Snoop leaving Death Row in 1998. That same year, he signed with No Limit Records, a record company owned by rapper Master P. Three Snoop Dogg albums were released under the imprint of No Limit: “Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told” (1998), “No Limit Top Dogg” (1999), and “Tha Last Meal” (2000).
Though each of these albums performed well from a commercial standpoint, Snoop received a wide range of feedback for his performance on these projects. While “No Limit Top Dogg” was deemed his best effort since “Doggystyle,” the other two albums got a lukewarm response and stung criticism at worst.
In between his projects for No Limit, Snoop lent a valuable assist to his old friend Dr. Dre on the album 2001. Pushing G-funk into the 21st century, 2001 was a smash hit that reminded everyone about Dre’s relevance in the music industry. Snoop’s contributions to 2001 were a huge part of the album’s success.
His voice was an indispensable part of the smash hits “The Next Episode” and “Still D.R.E.” 2001 went on to be certified 6x platinum, and it was also nominated for Best Rap Album at the 2001 Grammy Awards.
Snoop’s Signature Song
At the dawn of the new millennium, Snoop continued to achieve commercial success in his solo career. In 2002, he released his sixth studio album, Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$. The project was released under the imprint of Priority and Capitol Records, as he had already left No Limit at that point.
A platinum-certified album, Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$ marked the beginning of a fruitful partnership with the production duo The Neptunes. Pharrell Williams, one half of The Neptunes, appeared in the album’s singles (“From tha Chuuuch to da Palace” and the Charlie Wilson-assisted “Beautiful”).
Snoop and Pharrell landed an even bigger hit—and, arguably, the biggest hit of Snoop’s career—with 2004’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot.” This world-famous single was the crown jewel of Snoop’s seventh album, R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece, his first outing with Geffen Records and Star Trak Entertainment.
In 2005, “Drop It Like It’s Hot” received Grammy nominations for “Best Rap Song” and “Best Rap Performance by a Duo or Group.” Four years later, Billboard magazine named it the most popular rap song of the 2000s (besting the works of artists like Eminem, Jay-Z, OutKast, and 50 Cent). And, for good measure, its carrier album became yet another platinum-certified outing for the gangster-turned-pimp of Long Beach.
Still a Darling of the Critics
For the rest of the 2000s, Snoop garnered critical acclaim, even though R&G turned out to be his last platinum-certified album to date.
In 2006, he released his eighth studio album Tha Blue Carpet Treatment. On this album, Snoop teamed up with a who’s who of titans in the music industry (including Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, Damian Marley, and R. Kelly). Tha Blue Carpet Treatment was hailed for its great beats and excellent lyricism. For good measure, it was also certified gold.
Snoop’s next album, Ego Trippin’, was also gold-certified. Released in 2008, Ego Trippin’ exuded a fun vibe exemplified by its first single, “Sensual Seduction.” Four other singles from Ego Trippin’ were released: “Neva Have 2 Worry,” “Life of da Party,” “My Medicine,” and “Those Gurlz.”
Snoop wrapped up the decade with his 2009 album Malice n Wonderland, which featured up-and-coming artists Soulja Boy, Nipsey Hussle, and Jazmine Sullivan. Production credits for Malice n Wonderland include long-time collaborators The Neptunes, as well as Terrace Martin, Teddy Riley, and Lil Jon. Overall, both Ego Trippin’ and Malice n Wonderland received moderate to positive reviews from the critics.
In 2012, nearly two decades after the release of his debut studio album, Snoop found a way to completely reinvent his musical persona and style. As a new convert to the Rastafari movement (after having previously identified himself as a member of the Nation of Islam), the rapper announced that he was changing his name to Snoop Lion. To further flesh out his conversion, he released a reggae album entitled Reinvented.
Channeling the influence of artists like Bob Marley and Peter Tosh, Reinvented was an audacious effort that got mostly tepid reviews. Try as he might, Snoop Lion could not quite live up to the lofty expectations of the new genre and culture he was exploring in his new album.
A Steady Presence
As the 2010s and 2020s rolled along, Snoop achieved a rare feat in the hip hop genre and the music industry in general. With his nine-album discography across this time frame (including the reggae album Reinvented), Snoop joined a short list of musical acts to have released albums in four decades. The list includes musical icons Bruce Springsteen, U2, Barbra Streisand, and Janet Jackson.
Thus far, the 2010s have been Snoop’s most prolific decade in terms of releasing studio albums. His complete list of 2010s albums consists of Doggumentary (2011), Reincarnated (2013), Bush (2015), Coolaid (2016), Neva Left (2017), Bible of Love (2018), and I Wanna Thank Me (2019). To date, Snoop has released two albums in the 2020s: From tha Streets 2 that Suites (2021) and BODR (2022).
BODR took on additional significance as it was released under the imprint of Death Row Records, which had been a defunct label for the better part of 26 years. Prior to the release of BODR, Snoop announced that he had acquired Death Row from MNRK Music Group.
This acquisition, of course, brings the rapper full circle. Nearly thirty years after Doggystyle took the world by storm, Snoop Dogg has his first-ever record label—as well as the adulation of the entire music community—in the palm of his hand.
For his authenticity, style, and overall entertainment prowess, Snoop Dogg is one of the most widely respected performers in the hip-hop industry and pop culture. Snoop’s career reads as a consummate process of perfection that spanned decades—something very few musical acts can brag about. As an emcee, he earned his stripes through his street cred and fundamentally sound rap style.
Refusing to rest on his laurels, he constantly found ways to reinvent his sound through fresh musical influences, powerhouse collaborations, and ingenious producers. Snoop is an excellent example of the refinement and rediscovery that every musical artist aspires to achieve.
Why is Snoop Dogg influential?
Snoop’s massive influence is rooted in his “realness”—that is, the long list of harsh circumstances and tough challenges that he has surpassed inside and outside the music industry.
For better or worse, his songs’ stories of criminal deeds, sexual exploits, and drug sessions have an unquestionably genuine vibe. Unsurprisingly, a young rap legend like Kendrick Lamar cites Snoop as an influence (mainly because of the structure, cohesiveness, and “raw raps” of Doggystyle).
Answer: Snoop’s on-screen appearances date back to the mid-’90s. The prolific energy fuelled his music career has translated into multiple TV and film roles. On the big screen, Snoop has dabbled in both comedy (Starsky & Hutch, The Beach Bum) and drama (Training Day, Baby Boy).
On the small screen, Snoop has hosted the programs Doggy Fizzle Televizzle (2002-2003), Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood (2007-2009), and Dogg After Dark (2009). He has also made his presence felt in the streaming wars; in 2019, he starred in Dolemite Is My Name, a critically acclaimed Netflix film.
Answer: When it comes to sports, Snoop has a wide range of interests. He fervently supports California-based teams, such as the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Rams, and USC Trojans. Snoop has supported teams outside the West Coast, including the Pittsburgh Steelers and Las Vegas Raiders.
Beyond fandom, Snoop is also passionate about coaching. He has been deeply involved in youth football, particularly in the teams of his son Cordell. Snoop has operated (and coached in) a youth football league in Los Angeles since 2005.
In his career, Snoop Dogg has had his fair share of hits (a good number of platinum-certified albums, chart-topping singles) and misses (a mediocre reggae project, the controversy surrounding his murder trial, zero Grammy wins). Through it all, Snoop has remained a household name. Indeed, among his numerous accomplishments, perhaps the most impressive is his unwavering relevance on the musical scene for the entirety of his thirty-year career. Snoop’s legacy, then, is that of an artist who overcame the odds to achieve immortality in his craft.