photo & text by nacrowe
for all intents and purposes, SNOOP DOGG's debut album DOGGYSTYLE (DEATH ROW, 1993) is the follow-up to DR. DRE's THE CHRONIC (DEATH ROW, 1993) released just the year prior on which he guest starred on CLASSIC tracks like "FUCK WIT DRE DAY (AND EVERYBODY'S CELEBRATIN')" and "NUTHIN' BUT A 'G' THANG." the two albums are inextricably linked thanks in part to the INFLUENTIAL PARLIAMENT FUNKADELIC infused "G-FUNK" sound that is the ICONIC hallmark of the WEST COAST HIP HOP early 90s production that N.W.A. maestro DR. DRE pioneered.
in SNOOP DOGG, DR. DRE found the first what would prove to be many massively SUCCESSFUL subsequent mentees that included the likes TUPAC SHAKUR, 50 CENT and EMINEM. DR. DRE discovered him through his step-brother WARREN G, whose friend NATE DOGG was cousins with SNOOP DOGG. what he brought to the table was unbridled CHARISMA and a lazy flow that glided effortlessly over DR. DRE's compositions. arguably this was the most potent pairing of his production career as witnessed on SEMINAL WEST COAST tracks like "WHO AM I (WHAT'S MY NAME)?" and of course "GIN AND JUICE." it is contestable that DOGGYSTYLE represents the high-watermark of SNOOP DOGG's recording career as his follow-up, being recorded after his murder trial, had limited involvement with DR. DRE as SNOOP DOGG was already looking to get out of his DEATH ROW RECORDS contract and cut ties with SUGE KNIGHT, its CEO and all around enforcer. he'd bounce around on subsequent labels thereafter, from NO LIMIT and PRIORITY and STAR TRAK and work with their high profile stable of artists and producers, none admittedly being on the cultural or artistic level of DR. DRE. but for SNOOP DOGG that's probably fine because his effervescent CHARISMA and easygoing PERSONALITY made him readymade for television, film and commercials. he proved to be a natural salesman and is arguably recognized more for his comedic PERSONA than his fabled HIP HOP career as an early WEST COAST pioneer.
for me personally, i knew about SNOOP DOGG when i lived in SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA up to my departure in late 1995, but it was my subsequent years living in NIGERIA where i grew to understand his international cultural celebrity. along with CYPRESS HILL, everyone i knew in LAGOS that was interested in HIP HOP write large had both THE CHRONIC and DOGGYSTYLE. as a white suburban kid, i was always struck by what mainstream BLACK artists from AMERICA translated in WEST AFRICA. like COMPTON and LONG BEACH, NIGERIA had its share of political CORRUPTION and rampant POLICE BRUTALITY. it was under this context of riding in company vans with armed guards through a troubled landscape of police bribes and no-go areas with unimaginable HUMAN SUFFERING that i took in the music of both DR. DRE and SNOOP DOGG. at least to me it translated like a hand in glove. even the embedded gallows humor of it all.
DOGGYSTYLE is not a perfect record as it is a bit inconsistent with too many skits, but as a cultural touchstone it is an absolute CLASSIC WEST COAST HIP HOP album that is undoubtedly one of the most singularly IMPACTFUL rap records ever. along with THE CHRONIC, its INFLUENCE can be witnessed in the likes of EMINEM, YG and THE GAME to SCHOOLBOY Q, XZIBIT, TYLER THE CREATOR, VINCE STAPLES and KENDRICK LAMAR.