Who Got Da Props?: The Under-Sung Importance Of Snoop Dogg

Although he's one of Hip Hop's most recognizable stars, why are fans seemingly so apathetic to Snoop Dogg? One writer makes a case for the Doggfather as one of the greats.

“Sting would be another person who's a hero. The music he's created over the years, I don't really listen to it, but the fact that he's making it, I respect that.” – Hansel, Zoolander

In the summer of 2012, Snoop Dogg held a grandiose press conference at Miss Lily’s restaurant in New York City and announced his formal name change to Snoop Lion. From a pageviews perspective, the story fell between the cracks—at least to the readers of this site—who seemingly shrugged it off as the latest commodity that "Tha Doggfather" was selling. After all, Snoop's endorsement portfolio includes an assembly line of navigation system plug-ins, blunt wrap, XXX films and even a Chrysler 300. Moreover, a Reggae album under the new moniker—produced by Diplo and the like—didn’t appear to make anybody on my industry radar reach for their wallets or their social media buttons. It was Vh1 Best Week Ever and morning show radio talking-point fodder, and maybe that’s where the man born Calvin Broadus fits in at this point. Still, for an artist who, in my opinion, has spent more years in the superstar spotlight than early ‘90s peers Jay-Z, Nas or even Diddy—why are music fans—especially in Hip Hop, seemingly so apathetic to Snoop?

The Rise Of Snoop Doggy Dogg

At nearly 30 years old, I’m part of the generation that was introduced to Snoop Doggy Dogg simultaneous to my obsession, addiction and love affair with Hip Hop. A year before Ol' Dirty Bastard and 20 before Chief Keef, Snoop was the rawest musical entertainer I had ever seen—coming into my apartment living-room by way of MTV. At a time when the big budget Rap music video was arguably at its artistic peak, Snoop was sitting on the medium’s handle-bars in a Pittsburgh Penguins jersey. The epitome of early '90s cool reigned with sleepy-eyes, twisting up his fingers and flipping his freestyle-like words with smooth, effortless precision.

By virtue of “Deep Cover” and two of The Chronic’s three singles (“Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang” and “Fuck Wit Dre Day”), Snoop was delivered to the mainstream in several different lights. On one hand, he could be the mellow, apathetic street kid seen riding shotgun in Dre’s ’64 Impala in the middle of an indo nod—an archetype currently revisited by Wiz Khalifa and Curren$y. In another look, Snoop paced anxiously in circles, wielding threats to West Coast pioneer Eazy-E and Bronx bully Tim Dog, people he presumably had never interacted with. This persona of the fearless young sidekick has popped up in beefs time and time again in the last three decades, from Young Buck to Gunplay. Unlike many of the enforcers of present, Snoop brandished his lyrical abilities and fly-guy humor, still boldly throwing in a “toe-to-toe” offer to one of the biggest tough-guy-on-record rappers of the day. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde thrived in one artist, and anybody following the headlines in the day believed it. While he was on trial for murder and frequently arrested in traffic stops, the authentic gangsta rapper still somehow seemed like an approachable star. Snoop was multi-dimensional, and afforded one of the most versatile producers in music, the possibilities seemed infinite leading up to his burgeoning debut.

“I’m one rude bwoy comin’ with the wickedness / So shut the fuck up and listen while I’m kickin’ this” – Snoop Dogg, “Pump, Pump”

Twenty years ago this November, Snoop’s Doggystyle was a must-own album; it’s been reissued several times to keep up with five-times-platinum demands since its #1 debut. In my circle of friends, from the cover art to the comedic videos to the incredible music created by Snoop, Dre and the eventual-all-star ensemble, it was a conversation piece. The album’s raw contents made it appealing to non-Rap fans, young and old. In more sophisticated circles, the album was praised on greater criteria—perhaps Dr. Dre’s finest production to date, a new lexicon of Slang Rap and one of the most engaging laid back deliveries since Smooth B. Chris Rock would later consider it the second-best Hip Hop of all-time, and I personally cannot find any reason to vehemently disagree.

But why don’t we hear that more often?

Although Death Row Records was the label that seemingly had the most support in the last years of the Golden-Era, few could argue that their flagship releases (The Chronic, All Eyez On Me, and Doggystyle) cannot comfortably wear the jacket of “classic album.” Whereas Nas’ Illmatic and Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt are far from the emcees’ best-selling albums, both releases frequently—to me, anyway—pop up in “favorite album” discussions. You would be hard-pressed to make a case that Doggystyle, Snoop's runaway best-seller, isn’t his finest musical hour, and still… the album goes under history’s radar.

It's A Doggy Dogg World

Still, like contemporaries Nas, Jay-Z and Raekwon—as well as later, 50 Cent, Lupe Fiasco and Game—Snoop Dogg remains judged against his debut. The rawness heard on “Tha Shiznit” and “Pump, Pump” rarely appeared on the 10 studio albums following Doggystyle (not to mention the overdose of vanity projects). Never having a completely Dr. Dre-helmed album again, production remained at the core of the criticism against Snoop’s late ‘90s and 2000s work. Acquitted in the real-life Murder Was The Case three-year trial, Snoop’s “187” references were muffled as a matured artist transitioned from rapping about weapons to rapping, almost exclusively, about women and weed. Whereas artists like the aforementioned trio (Nas, Jay, Rae) have been encouraged and later praised for calling back to the their origins, Snoop has not been as effective. Misguided sequels like "Gin & Juice II" and "Still A G Thang" went ignored on the D-O-double-G's third album, Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told, and "Snoop Dogg (What's My Name, Pt. 2)" was a disjointed single from what was promised to be a G-Funk reunion on Tha Last Meal. As a result, Snoop Dogg seemingly continued to play many parts in his own artistic variety show.

It will have been 15 years this August since Snoop Dogg has had a #1 album. In that period, he has been a part of three #1 singles (his own “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” as well as Akon’s “I Wanna Love You” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”). He's also contended with at least one Top 10 single nearly every year of his lengthy career, often multiple times over. One of the most durable Hip Hop stars of all-time knows how to make a hit, he just has a challenging time selling the album they belong to.

Admittedly, post-Death Row, Blue Carpet Treatment is the only album from my first "favorite emcee" that I’ve found worth keeping in my music collection. I’ve purchased a plethora of Snoop’s albums—often on release day—and it’s just not music that really ages gracefully to me. That’s not me criticizing the artist either—as Snoop’s been more consistent and reliable than many artists who dominated the charts and year-end lists of the early ‘90s. It is what it is; I wished Django Unchained had the script consideration of Reservoir Dogs, and I lost interest in Seinfeld after Larry David left and the show was character-based. Art suffers from its own virginity complex, and many of us are stuck wishing Snoop rhymed like he did when he was short-haired and penniless.

That said, even in a culture where Snoop Lion’s Reincarnated doesn’t mean much to me, I rally that Calvin Broadus’ merits to Hip Hop are under-sung.

It Ain't No Fun (If The Homie Can't Have None)

Snoop Dogg has been a Hip Hop historian. Just as Jay-Z “overcharged niggas for what they did to the Cold Crush” and Nas orated Rakim’s life-story without permission, Snoop praised guys like Slick Rick, Too Short, Dana Dane, Biz Markie—covering their songs (often as singles) on big budget albums. He signed MC Eiht and Kam (with Goldie Loc as "Warzone") and was instrumental in helping Special Ed consider a comeback a decade ago. When Snoop got an executive position at the revived Priority Records imprint, he personally re-released albums from friends (Master P’s Ghetto D) and foes (Eazy-E’s Eazy-Duz-It), and worked on helping Cypress Hill re-brand with a new LP. More than just his childhood favorite rappers, Snoop’s had more artists on his back seemingly than the whole Wu-Tang umbrella. From 213 to Eastsidaz, Doggy’s Angels to Dubb Union, Snoop’s introduced groups. From Daz Dillinger, Soopafly, Bad Azz, Mac Shawn, RBX and The Lady Of Rage, Snoop has also seemingly provided career shelter to many of his former Death Row "inmatez." Doggystyle Records has housed various acts that at times, were involved in campaigns to compete with or downright defame Snoop. The forgiving star still provides outlets to artists who would be hard-pressed to find them elsewhere. Hardcore West Coast Hip Hop fans may remember how frequently Snoop's name would pop up on the featured guests of a Murder Dog magazine album ad. To paraphrase his mid-‘90s ally Tupac, Snoop seems to "care, when don’t nobody else care."

The first time I met Snoop, for a 2008 Source cover-story, Long Beach’s finest had a star-studded entourage with him: Daz, DJ Quik, Teddy Riley, Too Short, Mistah F.A.B., Soopafly, Bishop Don Magic Juan, Terrace Martin and a host of others were sharing Snoop’s floor at Midtown Manhattan’s W Hotel. Tha Doggfather is a provider of opportunity, fame and presumably, fortune. At a time where figures like Jaz-O, Consequence and Young Buck are often standing in the wings crying foul of the artists they believed owed them more in return, we’ve rarely heard a disgruntled peer of Snoop.

As the chart numbers suggest, Snoop is also deeply accessible. It’s why Hot Pockets, AOL and Orbitz gum pay big sums to get “Doggy Fizzle” in their ads. It’s why Katy Perry sought out a guest 13 years her senior to help her reach teeny-bop masses. Snoop feels edgy. We all know his visual associations with smoke, hydraulics and harems of women, and pop culture uses it. Snoop is Dolemite, Goldie and Huggy Bear (as he played in the wretched "Starsky & Hutch" cinematic remake) in one, and many generations “get it.”

The Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told

Behind the scenes, Snoop Dogg led the charge to reunite a spiritually and commercially scarred coast in the mid-2000s. He hosted an event that welcomed even former nemesis Suge Knight in Protect The West Summit, something that did not get the recognition it deserved. He played peacemaker in settling a violent on-and-off record beef between Quik and Eiht. He attends Saviours Day, donates money to youth football leagues and brokers deals in and out of music for his friends. Whether the emergence of Game a decade ago or the recent reign of Kendrick Lamar and Black Hippy, Snoop Dogg is always there—not hating, but congratulating. Few of these items get the press push of Snoop changing his name, or the rapper making a cameo in a commercial or bad TV show episode.

“If you don’t know me by now, you’ll never know me / I never won a Grammy, I won’t win a Tony.” – KRS-One, “MC’s Act Like They Don’t Know”

My parents (and even my grandmother) know who Snoop Dogg is in one way. My teenage cousins know who Snoop is in other ways. My fellow music critics know Snoop in another. While Jay-Z has ascended to become a pillar of our culture at black tie events and inaugurations, The Fresh Prince has skyrocketed to chase Oscar gold, Snoop Dogg may be the most recognizable Rap star of our time. His commodity may simply be commerce, but while Snoop has never seemingly taken himself as seriously as Eminem, Lil Wayne or Kanye West, he’s been their "big homie" peer since before they got here.

Snoop rapped about his several labels in his hit records, bringing profile to the brand.  He launched two television series on two different networks. With some sprinkled in controversy, the man made both The MTV Video Music Awards and The Source Awards meaningful to new audiences. Snoop (with nods to E-40 and Mac Minister), helped a legion of my fellow White folks look stupid throwing "izzle" on the end of words. Snoop's early words helped tear the Rap regions apart, and he was instrumental in sewing them back together. Snoop reinvented his sound many times over, and helped producers ranging from Dr. Dre, Timbaland, Pharrell and Shawty Redd reinvent theirs. Snoop Dogg has been a linchpin in this culture since his 1992 entrance, even if he’s absent on far too many G.O.A.T. album lists and Top 5 Dead or Alive’s. Best of all, the 41 year-old has been too busy to care.

I have no stake in the recent headlines debating Snoop Lion’s public alignment with the Rastafarian Movement. Honestly, I care about that as much as I care about Reincarnated. I’m willing to bet now that the release has no problem ushering a hit single, and I suspect that it’s album chart performance will be a far cry from blockbuster status. But in a benchmark year for a classic debut album, it’s impossible for me not to take audit of the artist (my pre-adolescent favorite at that) who made it and not wonder how much his art, his personality and his endurance have done for Hip Hop.

Jake Paine has been the Editor-In-Chief of HipHopDX from 2008 until earlier this year, when he announced his resignation. He has written for Forbes.com XXL, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and others. He lives in Philadelphia. Follow him on Twitter (@Citizen__Paine)


  • Renzo rollin

    Snoopy in the top 3 of biggest sell-outs in hip hop. He was so dope in the 90's. He had everthing:original voice, original flow, funny, original style, everything you want in a rapper if you're a hiphophead. But then in the early 00's i knew it was over when he did a corny love song with Mariah Carey. I knew then that he would do alot more sell-out moves in the future and I was right. His days were over. He was now the rapper who would drop corny verses on corny popstar songs.


    Snoops Glory Dayz were late 90s and early 2000s, man fuck tha other shit, im stuck in that timezone forever. EASTSIDE UP

  • Anonymous

    Snoop has hits for days. He deserves way more props than he gets. All the albums he dropped around the late 1990s and early 2000s were very solid as well. If you think Doggystyle is his only good album, you're sleeping on No Limit Top Dogg, Tha Last Meal, Tha Eastidaz, Paid Tha Cost to Be Da Boss etc... Probably the only dude with as many hits over such a long period of time is Jay-Z.

  • Doe Or Die 2

    I doubt he writes his own lyrics anymore. He even said he was hiring a ghost writer for his last album. There's a lot of unsung heros in hip hop. AZ is one of em.. Doe or die 2 coming soon.

  • clm83

    Snoops last good album was "Dead Man Walking" on Death Row.

  • Nem

    I went to a snoop show once and left KNOWING hes one of the greats, it was an hour an a half of classic songs....that being said, i agree with this article,except i didnt notice a difference in seinfeld after larry david left...the show was classic front to back, if u stopped watchin wen he left then you missed a few seasons of greatness

  • SD

    Fans are apathetic towards Snoop Dogg because he has the talent to have made more significant music than he has.

    • Anonymous

      He's made some very dope shit that has gone under the radar and guaranteed, that given the standards of intelligence in Hip Hop in the past and arguably the present? You argument holds no fucken grounds None.

  • G

    His best Days were with DPGC, Suge Knight is a fat Bitch

  • Page_1

    The reality is Doggystyle was Snoops only true classic album and since then he's fallen into musical obscurity only popping up to release a catchy radio song every few years. Which is fine, it happens. The difference is that he has been able to maintain his status as a pop icon and branded himself into a household name. That being said... I cant stand anything he has released in over 15 years. I respect him though for what he did for hip hop and the impact he was able to make and as a person being instrumental in one of the most important movements in hip hop history. The Snoop Lion thing is wack, he should give it up. He is going to make a mockery of his own legacy if he doesn't stop trying to prove his relevance.

  • Cole

    I had this same conversation with a friend back in 2002. Snoop's societal impact is hard to ignore. Before 1994, how many times did you hear somebody say, "What's up, dogg?", "He's my dogg"...etc.

  • Kizman

    if Snoop died in 1996 instead of 2pac, everybody would call him a top10 rapper no doubt "They say they never really miss you til you dead or you gone" -Jay Z

  • Anonymous

    This is when everybody tries to be trivial Hip Hop fanatics with a light touch and pay homage. You guys aren't loyal. There's nothing your minds that suggest a servitude for the art and the culture itself, you all need to be constantly reminded because you aren't grateful for the artists you listen to. You hope they put out some weak shit, some garbage. You hope for it. So when you feel like, damn this dude raised me, this dude brought me up and formed my ears and what have you at a later part in your life you won't admit to it whole heartedly. You guys have no sense of loyalty to the game or to Hip Hop You just wish you could go a day hoping that a certain artist only played a little part in your life, just minor role in forming your game and giving you the sense of security you needed in one part of your life. And then, when you don't admit to it? You feel just comfortable enough to abandon them altogether. That's how it is. You all embrace disposability. And now you have 2 Chainz talking about taking out your favorite rapper out like a garbage bag when he should be referencing you.

  • kickpush74

    Snoop has stood the test of time. I was once a HUGE Snoop fan....not a stan but a fan. I still am a fan of his but I feel that the last Snoop album I had in heavy rotation was R&G. I was one of the few that HATED Drop It Like It's Hot when it first dropped. Over time I still like his music but not the way I liked it in 1992. Totally glad to see a good editorial about a seemingly good dude. I just wish he wouldn't have taken that pimp role so seriously in 2003-2005.

  • Cee

    Probably cause he only had one good album--Doggstyle. I know w/ most rappers their 1st is easily their best followed by their 2nd then they decline w/ age but Snoop isn't as synonymous w/ rap nowadays as he is w. hia pot smoking personality. He's a legend for sure but like w/ Eminem and most other emcees his first albums Murder Was The Case and Doggystyle were by far his best. You look at emcees from England like Mike Skinner of The Streets and Dizzee Rascal and their first 2 albums were their best and fans have grown apathetic towards them but they're all in the same boat essentially. It's like w/ sports, your 20s is your prime.

  • chillthrills

    i bet all the the snoop haters cop his greatest hits collection,,,on the low!!!!,,,,,snoop stands the test of time ,,,,its called entertainment,,,be entertained,,,,or dont ,,,da fucck!!!

  • Anonymous

    blue carpet was dope. ya'll don't really listen to what you talk shit about. you just judge on what passing impression you get. i used to be like that that too, but i grew the fuck up.

  • Steve

    I dont usually comment, but I thought this article was extremely well written, good stuff. Snoop is overlooked at times.

  • clm83

    It's 2013, Snoop fucking SUCKS! I don't even think Dre wanna produce his ass anymore.

  • Anonymous

    Snoop dog is and always will be a clown. He's not even good at all; all we raps about is weed.

  • kdj

    he was a great rapper. but now he's just a clown. a parody of himself. like many mc's from the golden era snoop turned to be a sellout.

  • steee

    great article. personally not a HUGE snoop fan because i think his lyrics are often lacking, but nobody can deny his legendary status. and i think this article explains well whats so unique about him

  • 5th

    Why is Snoop's "importance" undersung? Cause he's a damn cartoon of himself... He really hasn't done shit noteworthy since "Doggystyle," but, he still gets noticed off of that... He doesn't even take himself seriously, so, why should anyone else?

  • John Blaze

    I Never Understood Why People Sleep On "Ego Trippin'" So Much....I Thought That Album Front To Back Was Just A Step Or Two Behind "Blue Carpet Treatment".....And I Still Haven't Figured Out Where To Put Snoop In My Top 25.....

  • Manny

    Snoop is and always will be a cool dude because hes always himself and in a time where people cant have fun and experiment we look to snoop as a dude that does that and we can only be happy for him cause in all true hes jus having fun.

  • Dick B

    Snoop Dogg is overrated, really not that important.

  • sun_god7

    Snoop is a legend from coast to coast. I agree with previous posts that he has not grown in rap since the 90s. Save for the Snoop Lion material - it's all old and recycled from his older material. It happens to all the legends if they stick around too long. The same goes for Jay-Z, 50 Cent, Lil' Kim and Lil' Wayne. If 'Pac and Biggie lived long enough - it would of happened to them too. It's the fan's fault too. We usually diss artists that change up and say they "sold out." Good article, did not know he did so much for other artists.


    Great article ! Snoops the homie everyone would want (noHomo) but when u have someone always putting someone on thats looking out big time , its hard out here for some ppl ! Big shout out to SNOOPLION AKA UNCLESNOOP

  • Assassin221

    Thanks for this article, shit is on point. It's totally true, Snoop is an undeniable legend and a superstar beyond a lot of other rappers. One of the first rappers I ever heard of, shit, even my parents know Snoop. Yet somehow he doesn't seem to get the respect like other legends, no GOAT mentions or classic album nods (except Doggystyle). I didn't even know about all the positive shit the article mentioned, but it makes sense. I read about all these other rappers beefing and having drama and shit, and I think, "Damn, these dudes are rich and successful, why can't they just be cool?" But Snoop is just cool. I think he doesn't get that same respect because he doesn't take himself seriously like all these other cats do. Eminem and Nas and so many other cats are trying to be the greatest and start entire movements and shit, Snoop never really feels like that. But at the same time, maybe that's part of his success, too. It's like since he doesn't take himself that serious, you don't have to either. You can just enjoy his smooth gangsta style. By the way, I don't get the hate on his music either. He's not dropping classics, but I thought Paid Tha Cost, Last Meal, and Blue Carpet were all pretty solid albums. Haven't heard his stuff in the second half of the 90s so I can't comment.

  • sflow

    Snoop Dogg did enough to where he can be whoever the f*** he wants

  • anono

    his rock the bells show at governors island in new york was way better than wu-tang's, Lauryn Hill's and tribe's.

  • Anonymous

    Snoop is legendary, it's just he seems unable to evolve past his first evolution (between Doggystyle and Doggfather). I had stopped caring about Snoop's music after "Drop It Like It's Hot", and then I thought he might have finally got it into his head that music doesn't necessarily want throwback beats/styles/subjects when "Sexual Eruption" came out. The reggae thing is a disaster.

  • row

    snoop is a legend he was a legend already like 10 years ago. but he is getting older. i went to a snoop show last year and it was underwhelming felt like he wasnt even trying

  • Anonymous

    listen to the eastsidaz albums. snoop is a legend.

  • D3

    snoop just makes boring music now, simple and plain.

  • BradyD

    There's no doubt Snoops a legend. Doggystyle and what he did on the Chronic is really enough said when it comes to Snoop. Unfortunately since Doggystyle, his musical output has been disappointing and underwhelming. Album after Album with 1, maybe 2 songs with any replay value. The Blue Carpet Treatment had a half dozen, but Doggystyle was a front to back, back to front classic. Maybe that's a curse that comes with such a incredible debut, between Doggystyle and the Chronic he really can never reach that again. Snoops an icon, he's bigger than rap. But in terms of who are the best rappers, he just doesn't have a catalogue that measures up with the greats.

  • fabdoe

    I wish Dre and Snoop could link up together and make another classic like Doggystyle, with every beat produced by Dr. Dre and some help from Daz on the production as well.

  • dirtymackymac

    My fav rapper!

  • who dat der

    Snoop was my fav mc years ago he just aint got the lyrics anymore but he still puts out a few bangers every album no doubt and whenever he does a show every fucker round here tries to get ticket needs another nice album last few been bad his best are Doggystyle Tha Doggfather No limit Top Dogg

  • Fossie

    Snoop is one of the greatest of all time!real gangsta much bigger than fakeass policeofficer turned drugdealer you know who you are ......

  • Anonymous

    snoop is legendary