He is held in high esteem and affection by hip-hop fans worldwide, and is one of the most recognizable faces and voices of the whole genre, even to those who don’t listen to his music. He has the distinction for having the most Grammy nominations of any music artist— 17 to date — without having won one. But as Snoop Dogg shows few signs of retiring, don’t write him off just yet.
Lineup: Snoop Dogg. Warren G, RJMrLA
West Coast rap legend Snoop Dogg has come a long way since being discovered by Dr. Dre in the early 1990. As impressive as he was when guesting on Dre’s The Chronic in 1992, few could have guessed he’d go on to global fame, tens of millions of record sales, and a career in movies and TV. And that’s only part of the story, from battles with the law to reinvention as a reggae artist. Now, he’s just released his 17th studio album, I Wanna Thank Me.
He was born Cordozar Calvin Broadus Jr. in Long Beach and his “Snoop Dogg” nickname came from his mother because she thought he looked like Snoopy from the Peanuts cartoon. He played piano and sang at his local Baptist church, before starting rap in sixth grade. After graduating high school, Snoop was arrested several times for drug possession and spent time in prison. He started making music as a way out of his troubles and recorded early demos with his cousin Nate Dogg and friend Warren G as 213. A track on one of these came to the attention of Dr. Dre, who invited Snoop to audition. From there they collaborated on a song called “Deep Cover”; and Snoop became the key rapper on Dre’s hugely successful first solo album, The Chronic.
Snoop’s first album, the Dre-produced Doggystyle (1993), climbed its way to the No. 1 spot on Billboard’s hip-hop and Top 200 charts, based in part on the success of the singles “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” and “Gin and Juice.”
Next came a short film called Murder Was the Case, the soundtrack of which went double platinum. Snoop’s next album, Tha Doggfather (1996), also reached the top of the charts. While it didn’t do as well either in sales or with reviewers, it still showed that Snoop was a major-league artist. Snoop then left Death Row, falling out with label mogul Suge Knight and moving to Master P’s No Limit Records.
Snoop continued to make music throughout the noughts, enjoying a big hit in 2004 with the chart-topping single “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” which sparked several fruitful collaborations with Pharrell Williams. He reunited with Warren G and Nate Dogg as 213 to drop the album The Hard Way in 2004. In 2007, Snoop became the first artist to release a track — “It’s The DOG” — as a ringtone prior to its release as a single.
He branched out into acting during the same period and appeared in several films, including Starsky & Hutch, The Wash and Training Day. He also made guest appearances on television shows and starred in his own E! reality show. He was part of a sketch show, Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, and participated in the Comedy Central Roast of the future president Donald Trump. He also uses his likeable laconic personality to good effect in a new venture for VH1, Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party, where he and Martha Stewart host dinner parties for various celebrities.