In 1996 Snoop Dogg was in the midst of a murder trial that he would ultimately be acquitted of, while his close friend and labelmate Tupac Shakur would not live to see the end of the calendar year. The two events, mixed with both emcee’s upbringing and subject matter spawned the type of clichés that most of us have heard all too many times before about life imitating art. But before all of the controversy and tragedy, Snoop Dogg was a fan.

“I’m the one who initially told Suge to go get ‘Pac” Snoop told Toure during an interview with FuseTV. “I think ‘Pac became the third piece, but his spirit wasn’t the same as me and Dr. Dre’s. Me and Dr. Dre had a spirt of music, love an harmony. ‘Pac had animosity, revenge…retaliation and respect. We’re the toughest team in town; we don’t have to put tough on our chest and walk out demanding respect. They give it to us.”

One year later, Hip Hop was similarly shocked by the death of Biggie. Much like Bad Boy, Death Row was also hoping to stay afloat by releasing as much posthumous material from their star as possible. With ‘Pac gone, the visuals to match these tracks were often piecemealed together, with ‘Pac appearing via spliced-in footage or animated cartoons if at all. But in “Wanted Dead Or Alive,” it’s not 2Pac so much as Snoop Dogg that you end up paying attention to.

Snoop appeared more subdued, even somber. Maybe some of that was due to the laid back nature of the beat, but it was a sharp contrast to the fire and brimstone he and 2Pac spat on “2 Of Amerika’z Most Wanted.” While the latter became a self-fulfilling prophecy of warring with rivals, “Wanted Dead Or Alive” belied its title. Snoop thought 2Pac’s passion inspired him to persevere and ultimately be a leader and entrepreneur as well as an artist.
“He was so energetic and loving…one of the coolest homies that you ever wanted to be down with,” Snoop added. “He just was real. He was an inspiration. I’ve never been around nobody like him who inspired me to want to become a boss. People don’t know me and ‘Pac were friends before we got on Death Row. “