Snoop Dogg, known as a West Coast rap legend, has come a long way since he was discovered by Dr. Dre in the early 1990s. Little did everyone know, he would later achieve worldwide fame, sell millions of records, and make a mark in movies and TV. Hailing from California, Snoop Dogg became a prominent figure in gangsta rap during the ’90s and the epitome of West Coast hip-hop culture for many. With over 23 million albums sold in the U.S. and 35 million worldwide, Snoop has received numerous accolades, including an American Music Award, a Primetime Emmy, and 17 Grammy nominations.
Early Life and Discovery by Dr. Dre
Snoop Dogg’s real name is Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. He was born on October 20, 1971, in Long Beach, California, to Vernell Varnado and Beverly Tate. Vernell, a Vietnam War veteran, mail carrier, and singer, left the family when he was just three months old. He was named after his stepfather, Calvin Cordozar Broadus Sr. He was raised by his mother and stepfather, while his real dad remained absent throughout his life.
When he was a young boy, his mother gave him the nickname “Snoopy” due to his love for the Peanuts cartoon and because he looked like Snoopy.
In 1975, his mother and stepfather divorced. As a child, Broadus sold candy, bagged groceries, and delivered newspapers to help his family make ends meet. He was the second of his mother’s three sons.
Broadus began singing and playing piano at the Golgotha Trinity Baptist Church from a very young age. He would frequently rap at school, drawing huge crowds in the hallways. The crowds would then catch the attention of the principal, who thought there was a fight going on. This moment made him realize he had a gift and made him interested in himself.
He grew up to be a dedicated student and active in church activities, including choir and football. But he got into the wrong crowd and had a troubled adolescence as he frequently ran into trouble with the law. He was associated with the Rollin’ 20s Crips gang in the Eastside neighborhood of Long Beach, though he denied being a member of the gang in 1993.
After graduating high school in 1989, he faced arrests for cocaine possession and spent three years frequently incarcerated, including time at Wayside Jail.
He started making music as a way out of trouble and recorded early demos with his cousin Nate Dogg, Lil’ ½ Dead, and friend Warren G, forming the group 213. A freestyle track on one of these caught the attention of Dr. Dre, who invited him to audition for his label, Death Row Records, and collaborate on a song called “Deep Cover” for a film soundtrack. Rapping under the name Snoop Doggy Dogg at the time, Snoop became the prominent rapper on Dr. Dre’s highly successful debut solo album, The Chronic, in 1992.
American rapper The D.O.C. became Snoop’s mentor in structuring his lyrics effectively.
Early Career Success and Rise to Fame
In 1993, Snoop released his debut album, Doggystyle, produced by Dr. Dre. It claimed the No. 1 spot on both Billboard’s hip-hop and Top 200 charts. The success was fueled by hit singles like “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” and “Gin and Juice,” following the G-Funk style set by The Chronic. Snoop’s exposure to Dr. Dre’s album played a considerable part in making his debut album successful.
Cypress Hill’s B-Real reflected on Dr. Dre’s influence, stating, “I think Dr. Dre gave Snoop a sound that would resonate in the minds of hip-hop fans for generations. It made Snoop an icon.” As he became a rising gangsta rap artist, the genre became the center of arguments about censorship, and Snoop was often exemplified as a misogynistic and violent musician.
But Snoop Dogg seemed to show his softer side. His soft vocal delivery distinguished him from other gangsta rap artists, who typically scream.
Snoop’s next album, Tha Doggfather (1996), achieved chart-topping success, even in the absence of Dre, who had parted ways with Death Row due to a contract dispute. Although not as commercially successful as Doggystyle, it solidified Snoop’s status as a major-league artist.
Subsequent Albums and Successes
After parting ways with Death Row due to disagreements with Suge Knight, Snoop Dogg made a move to Master P’s No Limit Records. He achieved top positions on the hip-hop charts with his next two albums: Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told (1998) and No Limit Top Dogg (1999). His final album with No Limit, The Last Meal (2000), sold over 2 million copies, showcasing a shift in his sound towards something smoother and less “gangsta rap.”
Throughout the 2000s, Snoop remained active in the music scene. He transitioned from his “gangster” image and embraced a “pimp” persona. His next album, Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$ (2002), features hit singles like “From tha Chuuurch to da Palace” and “Beautiful,” featuring Pharrell.
In 2004, he had a major hit with the chart-topping single “Drop It Like It’s Hot” from his album R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece. The same year, he reunited with Warren G and Nate Dogg as 213 to release the album The Hard Way.
Snoop released his solo album again in 2006, Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, which debuted impressively on the Billboard 200 at No. 5. It featured a well-released second single, “That’s That Shit,” featuring R. Kelly.
In 2007, Snoop made history as the first artist to release a track, “It’s The D.O.G.,” as a ringtone before its official single release. The year after, he released his ninth studio album, Ego Trippin’ (2008), featuring the hit single “Sexual Eruption.” The single peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard 100, marking a new direction for Snoop, who used autotune.
His tenth studio album, Malice n Wonderland (2009), featured the single “Gangsta Luv” with The Dream. Although the album debuted at No. 23 on the Billboard 200, it marked his lowest charting album to date. Snoop’s collaborations extended to Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” and tracks with Dr. Dre, Curren$y, Jessica Mauboy, and the Lonely Island. Snoop Dogg released his 11th studio album, Doggumentary, in 2011.
In 2012, Snoop unveiled his new stage name, Snoop Lion, after being rechristened by a Rastafari priest in Jamaica. He dropped a single, “La La La,” using his new moniker, and dabbled in reggae music. He also released a reggae album entitled Reincarnated. The album topped Billboard Top Reggae Albums for 34 non-consecutive weeks.
In 2015, Snoop returned to hip-hop with Bush, which was produced entirely by frequent collaborator Pharrell. His next studio album, Coolaid (2016), was released the same year he got inducted into the celebrity wing of the WWE Hall of Fame. The next year, he launched Neva Left (2017).
Snoop became a born-again Christian and released his first gospel album, Bible of Love (2018).
He joined Lil Dicky on the April 2019 single “Earth” and released the title track from his 17th studio album, I Wanna Thank Me.
In 2021, Snoop released From tha Streets 2 tha Suites (2021), and received positive reviews. In 2022, he acquired Death Row Records from MNRK Music Group (formerly known as eOne Music) and released his 19th studio album, BODR (2022)
TV and Movie Appearances
Beyond making a mark in the music industry, Snoop Dogg also made notable appearances in the world of TV and film, taking on various roles. His memorable starring roles include The Wash (with Dr. Dre) and the horror film Bones. He co-starred with rapper Wiz Khalifa in the 2012 movie Mac and Devin Go to High School. Snoop has played supporting and cameo roles in films like Half Baked, Training Day, Starsky & Hutch, and Brüno.
Snoop also appeared in television shows, including The L Word and Weeds, and starred in his own reality show at E!, Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood in 2007, featuring his wife and three children. He ventured into the comedy world by starring in his sketch show, Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, and starred in the variety show Dogg After Dark. He starred in episodes of King of the Hill, Las Vegas, Monk, Robot Chicken, and One Life to Live.
Snoop Dogg is not just a rapper who can act– he’s a multi-talented man who had multifaceted ventures, such as:
Snoop Dogg also dabbled in film direction. Under the alias “Michael J. Corleone,” Snoop directed Snoop Dogg’s Doggystyle, a pornographic film combining hip hop with explicit content. The film was a huge success and won “Top Selling Release of the Year” at the 2002 AVN Awards. After this, he directed Snoop Dogg’s Hustlaz: Diary of a Pimp in 2002 using the moniker “Snoop Scorsese.”
In 2005, he established a production company, Snoopadelic Films, and debuted with Boss’n Up, a film inspired by Snoop Dogg’s album R&G, featuring Lil Jon and Trina.
Everyone knows Snoop Dogg loves weed. Basically, it’s his personality. So it’s just logical that a guy like him would invest in the cannabis industry. In 2015, Snoop became a minority investor in Eaze, a California-based medical cannabis company that delivers medical marijuana to people’s homes.
Later that year, he launched Merry Jane, a digital media platform focusing on marijuana-related news. Then, he released his own brand of cannabis products, Leafs by Snoop, in late 2015. This marked him as the first major celebrity to brand and market a line of legal marijuana products.
He also appeared with Martha Stewart on the show Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party in 2016. This delightful show featured recipes, games, and musical guests with Snoop and Martha Stewart. Featuring his cooking skills, Snoop created a unique fried chicken recipe with Stewart, adding barbecue-flavored potato chips to the batter.
In 2018, he released his own cookbook, From Crook to Cook: Platinum Recipes from Tha Boss Dogg’s Kitchen, co-authored with Ryan Ford and featuring a foreword by Martha Stewart.
In 2020, Snoop ventured into winemaking and launched “Snoop Cali Red” in partnership with an Australian wine brand, 19 Crimes.
In 2019, Snoop entered the videogame business and created his e-sports league, the “Gangsta Gaming League.”
In the gaming world, Snoop Dogg became a playable character in Call of Duty: Vanguard and Call of Duty: Warzone in April 2022.
Snoop Dogg also knew to give back to the world. In 2005, he founded the Snoop Youth Football League for at-risk youth in Southern California. By 2018, the league had grown to be the largest youth football organization in Southern California. Snoop has also run a special-needs division named Snoop Special Stars for individuals aged five and older with physical, mental, or developmental disabilities.
Every Thanksgiving, Snoop partners with city officials and gives away turkeys to the less fortunate in Inglewood, California – where he distributed 3000 turkeys in 2016
Snoop has supported various causes, including Children’s Hospital Los Angeles, Mothers Against Police Brutality, Habitat for Humanity, Orca Network, Save a Life Foundation, Shriners Hospitals for Children, and The Healing Circle.
Despite his millions of dollars in contributions to charitable causes, Snoop was cautious about publicizing his charitable work, as it may be seen as a publicity stunt for his own image.
Public Persona and Image
Largely known as a rapper, Snoop Dogg’s musical genre is described as West Coast hip hop, g-funk, and gangsta rap. His smooth, laidback delivery and simplicity make him an effective and impactful artist. He’s also known for his freestyle lyrics, as he is able to create a rap song on the spot.
Throughout his career, Snoop Dogg has embraced a reputation as an avid cannabis enthusiast, incorporating it as a defining element of his persona. In 2002, he initially declared his decision to quit cannabis. However, this commitment was short-lived and even referenced in the 2004 film 50 First Dates.
By 2013, he proudly claimed to be smoking about 80 cannabis blunts daily. Since 2007, he has been certified for medical cannabis in California, specifically for managing migraines.
Because he was a well-known weed user, fans were shocked when Snoop announced on social media that he was “giving up smoke.” It was later revealed as a promotional stunt for a smokeless fire pit called SoloStove.
Snoop Dogg is also an avid sports fan, passionately supporting teams such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, Los Angeles Lakers, USC Trojans, and the Pittsburgh Steelers. He also claims to be a fan of the Las Vegas Raiders, Los Angeles Rams, and Dallas Cowboys.
Snoop Dogg’s impact on the music industry and popular culture has earned him numerous accolades and high-profile recognition. Billboard, The Washington Post, and NME have hailed him as a “West Coast icon,” with the Press-Telegram dubbing him an “icon of gangsta rap.” Vibe magazine went a step further in 2006, crowning him “The King of the West Coast.” An ABC News journalist recognized Snoop as one of the 90s acts responsible for bringing hip-hop into the mainstream music charts.
In acknowledgment of his significant contributions, Snoop Dogg was honored with the BMI Icon Award in 2011. Furthermore, he was also inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2023.
Beyond his achievements as a rapper and songwriter, Snoop Dogg was also a pop culture trendsetter. He was known for popularizing “-izzle speak” in the pop and hip-hop music industry. His practice of adding “izzle” to words caught on the public.
Snoop’s groundbreaking album, Doggystyle, is credited by The Guardian for revolutionizing the rap genre. The album not only demonstrated that rappers could reinvent themselves but also played a crucial role in expanding rap’s vocabulary. This impact resonates in contemporary rappers like Kendrick Lamar, ScHoolboy Q, and Maxo Kream, who acknowledge Snoop Dogg as a significant influence. His style also set trends for hip-hop fashions and introduced the G-funk genre to a new generation. If you want to read about the early life, career, and other influences of Kendrick Lamar, check out our article, “Find Out More About the Musical Career of Kendrick Lamar.
Controversies and Legal Issues
Part of Snoop Dogg’s public image was his number of brushes with the law. In 1990, he faced a conviction for cocaine possession, followed by a guilty plea to gun possession in 1993. But his most high-profile incident happened in 1993 when he was arrested for a murder charge.
That time, Snoop was charged with first-degree murder for shooting a member of a rival gang whom Snoop’s bodyguard killed. He was acquitted in 1996 – the same year he released his debut album. After that, he did not want to continue living the “gangsta” lifestyle. A subsequent short film about his murder trial, entitled Murder Was the Case, was released in 1994 and had an accompanying soundtrack that became double platinum.
Snoop made international news again in 2006 when he was arrested for vandalism in London. Consequently, the Home Office denied him entry, and his British visa was rejected in 2007. However, by March 2010, Snoop was allowed back into the UK, but his entire group, including himself, was temporarily banned from British Airways. Queen Elizabeth II reportedly intervened, stating that Snoop had not committed any offenses in the country and could return.
In 2007, the Australian Department of Immigration and Citizenship banned Snoop from entering the country, citing his criminal history. This prevented him from attending the MTV Australia Video Music Awards that year. However, the ban was lifted in September 2008 after considering his criminal record and recent conduct, including charity work, and evaluating the potential risk to the Australian community.
Snoop also faced another ban in 2012 – this time in Norway. It was because he was found in possession of marijuana and undeclared funds. It wasn’t his first brush with the law due to illegal possession of marijuana – he has been arrested and fined three times for it in Los Angeles in 1998, Cleveland in 2001, Sierra Blanca, Texas, in 2010, and in Sweden in 2015.