Technically, “Puffin’ On Blunts And Drankin’ Tanqueray” was Snoop Doggy Dogg’s formal, audio introduction to the world. And formal is the key word here, because if you were on the West Coast or seriously plugged into the Hip Hop scene, you likely caught that single, video and a countless number of bootlegs that preceded it. But for most people, “Deep Cover” provided the first look at the emcee who, along with Dr. Dre, would redefine Hip Hop music on the Left Coast.
Visually, “Deep Cover” follows the full-length feature film that spawned it pretty closely. And after watching Dre and Snoop’s opening scene, you get the feeling that even though they wisely turned down a hit of crack from the fictional “Kingpin,” they were both getting hooked on the idea of acting. Snoop has appeared in dozens of films since, and Dre would log serious time in front of and behind the camera.
Bill Duke’s 1992 crime drama was no slouch itself. Deep Cover managed a respectable sixth place finish at the box office behind the likes of Basic Instinct, Beethoven and White Men Can’t Jump to bring in $5.5 million during its opening weekend. But this dark, accompanying music video has gone on to dwarf Duke’s solid sophomore directorial effort in terms of historical impact. It was the beginning of a period that saw imagery that was far from commercially friendly—“187 on an undercover cop”—reach commercial levels that were usually reserved for non-threatening artists such as MC Hammer.
“The thing about the Death Row, Dr. Dre productions with Snoop, was that those were real, real pop records,” explains Nelson George, author of Hip Hop America. “Even though it had a gangster vibe and attitude, the actual records and singles were very pop and accepted in the mainstream. Nothing had been like that before with the level of consistency that they achieved. It became mainstream in the 90’s with the movies, the commercials and the endorsement deals. Everything during the 80’s was breaking through to the point where in about ‘90 or ‘91 it had become mainstream.”