There's a Special Place in Dallas' Hip-Hop Heart for Snoop Dogg

We here at the Observer are seeing to it that St. Patrick's Day in Dallas will be a deeper, hazier shade of green this year. After the annual Greenville Avenue parade this Saturday, our St. Patrick's Day Concert in the Energy Square parking lot will be headlined by the quintessential smooth talking, indo blowing, Long Beach OG MC: Snoop Dogg. In preparation for the holiday festivities, we talked to various members of the Dallas hip-hop community about America's "homeboy next door" (as A.Dd+'s Slim Gravy puts it), his worldwide appeal and Southern rap's longtime connection to West Coast gangsta style.

In 1992, he first graced the airwaves as Snoop Doggy Dogg after Dr. Dre tapped him to assist on the theme for the movie Deep Cover.

"I remember hearing 'Deep Cover' for the first time when it came out and thinking 'Damn, this song goes hard!" says Will Rhoten, a.k.a. DJ Sober of A.Dd+ and Bootyfade. "I was excited to hear more of that gangsta vibe of it and his smooth delivery ... he just has a cool voice."

That signature slow-drawl delivery has earned Snoop a dream career spanning two decades. In a genre like hip-hop, where artists compete fiercely and track-by-track to maintain relevance, he makes it all look effortless. With a widely respected catalog of classics, he and super producer Dr. Dre pioneered the G-Funk sound of the early 1990s. He has tried his hand at acting, film production, porn directing and more, always redefining the role an MC can play in culture. It's plain to see why Dallas has so much love for Snoop.

On any given evening in this city's nightlife scene, there's a noteworthy moment in nearly every rap-friendly DJ set when you'll hear the West Coast interlude mix. It's a useful device for loosening up a room: Blend a little "Gin & Juice" into "Nothin But a G Thang" to get the crowd open, and you'll find yourself in a club-wide singalong. Drop in the plucky string intro of Chronic 2001's "Still D.R.E." to really get the hips swinging, and the room's energy is yours to build.

"I don't really know when I started doing that, it just started to happen. It always makes sense, everyone knows those classic party songs," says Rhoten. "No matter what DJ or hip-hop head you talk to, The Chronic is always in their top five albums, and Texas as a whole has always really related to West Coast hip-hop."

"My very first concert ever was the Up In Smoke Tour in 1999 or 2000," says Bric Flair of hip-hop booking and promotions company 24kBric. "West Coast always jammed UGK and earlier Southern rappers ... they influenced each other. The DOC is from Dallas, another rapper, 6'2", is from Fort Worth... they both helped write The Chronic."

Satori Ananda, chief of staff at Pharoahe Monch's War Media and Dallas resident, holds the weekly Paid In Full Fridays at Heroes Sports Lounge. With deep ties to the rap scenes on all three coasts, she explains the difference between them.

"I think it has to do with culture and weather. We have more in common with West Coast subject matter. Cars, good times and happier beats represent our lifestyle similarities. The East Coast has dark, grimy beats and lyrics ... crowded words, just like the space," says Ananda. "They are more openly oppressed, live the rat race, and their music represents that. The South and the West are more carefree."

For years, the two regions have shared a bond. It's a mutual respect and admiration that the East Coast has never shared with West Coast or Southern rap. For example, Houston's DJ Screw, who pioneered traditional Southern rap, often used West Coast samples in his beats.

"The South has always been fascinated with the West, and the West has always been fascinated with the South. ... They've borrowed from each other throughout time in terms of sound, style and overall culture," says Pat Averhart, co-founder of local hip-hop marketing/promotions heavy hitters NasaGang.

"I was young when the West had their big movement starting out," says founder Gabriel Cruz. "Seeing California and the scenery in the videos and pictures made you just wish you were on the coast."

Dallas rapper Tum Tum adds, "My family is from out there, so I was exposed to Snoop, NWA, Too Short, E-40 ... with The DOC being from West Dallas and going to school with some of my family from there, I was around that type of music ... That's all my uncles and aunts did was jam that shit at the get-togethers."

Roderick "Rollo" Rollins is a co-host of Deep Ellum on Air's Live From The Underground radio show and co-founder of NasaGang. He gives a great example of the South's lasting influence on the West Coast. "You can see it in how [the West Coast] made a song called "Teach Me How to Dougie" says Rollins. "It's a Dallas dance, but they rock with it enough to make a song about it."

"Dallas has been one of the largest consuming markets in the U.S. for years. Snoop has touched this market since 1993. That's 20 years of touring, shows, et cetera in this market. He probably has father and son fans in the audience now," says Bric Flair.

Even with his new confusing and self-proclaimed Rastafarian identity, Snoop Lion, he still remains relevant and respected around the world. Whether you're on board with his reggae-crossover aspirations or not, you cannot deny that at this point, he deserves to stir the pot a little.

"[Snoop Lion] sounds silly, like a new Mac operating system. I feel weird about it," says Rhoten. "But I think that artists can get tired of doing the same thing for so long, and at this point Snoop Dogg has a body of work that speaks for itself."

Michelle Ofiwe, assistant music director at Radio UTD, adds, "To be honest, I think dude picked a strange way to announce that he was ready to make bangers again. But hey, if he wants to experiment with sounds, I'm interested to see where it goes."

So when you're bobbing your head this weekend to the pimped out, whirring synths and heavy 808-laced beats you know and love from the Long Beach OG, know that you're supporting a long tradition between the South and the West. "Snoop is a fucking legend," says Tum Tum. "So roll one for the Lion."

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Vanessa Quilantan

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