November 23, 2013 marks the 20-year anniversary of Snoop Dogg’s (then recording as Snoop Doggy Dogg) debut album, Doggystyle. The album has since been certified by the Recording Industry Association of America as having sold over 4 million copies, and part of the project’s iconic imagery is tied to the Fab 5 Freddy-directed “Who Am I (What’s My Name)” video. The video was shot at VIP Records in Snoop’s native Long Beach, California. In honor of the anniversary, Kelvin Anderson, owner of VIP Records store in Long Beach, California, shared some details about the video and Snoop’s early work as a part of 213 alongside Warren G and Nate Dogg.
“A young man that goes by the name of Sir Jinx got in contact with me, and he said ‘I hear you guys want to start doing Rap music in Long Beach,’” Anderson said during an exclusive interview with HipHopDX. “I actually met up with him at Dr. Dre’s house in the Inglewood area. He brought me in, and he showed me this machine. He said ‘This is all you need to get to get it cracking in Long Beach…This is Dr. Dre’s drum machine. The closest I could get was over his shoulder and stuff,’ he said. ‘If you get one of these, we can make it happen.’”
Anderson says he bought an E-mu SP1200 drum sequencer from Guitar Center in nearby Hawthorne, gave it to Jinx and was contacted approximately three months later.
“[Sir Jinx] taught a couple of guys that had been working with me at the time—Keith Thompson, that went by ‘DJ Slice’ and LC Rolls—how to program a little…I took a storage room in the back of store made a makeshift studio. Our first studio was the drum machine, two turntables, and we mixed everything down to a cassette deck. Years later, we ended up having a full and complete recording studio, but the studio we had at the time of the famous ‘Snoop Dogg 213 demo’ was a drum machine, two turntables and we mixed down to a cassette deck.”
Anderson further went on to recall having no success pitching Snoop Dogg as a rapper based on various relationships he had with record labels in the Los Angeles area. But the aforementioned 213 demo found its way into the right hands.
“Warren G took the demo tape to Dr. Dre’s birthday party where he was able to get it played a few times, and it caught the ear of Dre,” Anderson said. “[Dre] said, ‘Who is this guy you playing?’ and Warren told him, ‘That’s the homie, Snoop Dogg, and the group I’m in, 213.’ I was told that the following night, he had Snoop in the studio doing the [‘Deep Cover’] track on the Deep Cover soundtrack, which turned out to be one of the biggest song on the soundtrack.”
Anderson continues to own and manage VIP Records from its location at 1020 E. Pacific Coast Highway in Long Beach, California. The store has been featured in various videos including “G’d Up” by Tha Eastsidaz, which also featured Vanessa Bryant.
Additional reporting by Omar Burgess