By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
By Alice Laussade
Snoop Dogg:Like the dirty, unshaven uncle no one in your family will claim at the holiday dinner table, Snoop Dogg couldn't give a shit if he's outstayed his welcome or if you're saving his seat for your damn grandma. But don't playa-hate him 'cause he's dutiful: The man is gangsta rap's professor emeritus, schooling newcoming fools on the ins and outs of the trade while keeping it real by honing his own trade to a tricked-out razor's edge.Consider: In 1992, after debuting in a guest shot on the title song to the Laurence Fishburne vehicle Deep Cover, Snoop--known as Calvin Broadus while still a puppy nursing from his mother's blunt in Long Beach--captures the nation's collective 40-sipping imagination with his meaty role in original gangsta Dr. Dre's seminal The Chronic, more or less modern gangsta rap's ground zero. Hip-hop headz and pubescent white girls alike are enraptured by the skinny, cornrowed rapper's let-me-fuck-you-up-the-ass-while-I-smoke-this-motherfucker street yarns and his laconic, let-me-fuck-you-up-the-ass-while-I-smoke-this-motherfucker delivery. Eleven months later, The Chronic's multiplatinum success giving the green light to whatever creative impulses may or may not run through his head, Snoop drops his own smash, Doggystyle, another redefining text of gangsta rap, post-NWA. The white girls increase in number, the hip-hop headz sort of look on bemusedly, and the weed blossoms unabated.
Then things get interesting: Snoop becomes the owner of the first debut album ever to enter the Billboard charts at the top. England threatens to expel him. He runs into trouble with the law. A few times. He makes a short film, Murder Was the Case, about the trouble. He becomes both more and less famous.
He moves out of Dr. Dre's spare bedroom. Suge Knight, Dre's partner (in crime?) at Death Row Records, Snoop's home, goes to jail. Snoop leaves Death Row and ends up a foot soldier in New Orleans venture capitalist Master P's No Limit empire. He accrues a crew, Tha Eastsidaz. He smokes weed. He continues to release records, including the just-out Tha Last Meal.
The moral? Don't underestimate your elders. And don't come tonight without a gas mask.