A Look Back At Snoop Dogg’s ‘Doggystyle’ 20 Years Later

For many of us who had come of age in the late-1980s, when Dr. Dre first arrived onto the scene with N.W.A. on the crazed Straight Outta Compton (1988), he had already proven himself a dazzling sonic force. Collaborating with group members Eazy-E, who was also the co-owner of Ruthless Records, and Ice Cube, MC Ren and DJ Yella, their brutal songs “Fuck the Police” and “Gangsta Gangsta” propelled them to stardom without much radio play.

However, when his money got funny in 1991, Dre hooked-up with a Blood-inspired devil named Suge Knight and went on to create Death Row Records. In the end, a few years later, it would all crumple like dirt; Tupac, who joined them in 1994, would be slain, Suge would be locked up, and Dre and Snoop would be fearing for their lives.

Yet in the beginning, when Death Row was all sweet, all honey, the former choir boy named Calvin Broadus (whose mama called him Snoopy) was on his way to becoming a superstar. As Oliver Wang says, “‘Deep Cover’ was the tease, The Chronic was the intro, but Doggystyle was the confirmation.”

Two decades after Doggystyle dropped from the hip-hop heavens onto a “highly anticipating” public, rap music connoisseurs who still hear the freshness of Dre’s funky soundscape have called the record a “sonic masterpiece.” While others blast the man for using too much old school funk in his tracks, as though he were keeping George Clinton and Zapp chained in the basement, others are secure in their beliefs that Dre was simply a genius.

“Snoop and Dre took a lot of flak for initiating all kinds of G-funk clones in their wake but that’s like blaming Tribe for inspiring all kinds of mediocre jazz-hop clones to emerge after them,” Oliver Wang says.

From the offices of BK Nation, Kevin Powell adds, “When you listen to Doggystyle you hear the incredible history of Black music with the beats Snoop and his guests are rhyming or singing over,” Kevin Powell says. “It is like a musical journey through classic soul and R&B and gut-bucket funk.” Later, from his apartment in Brooklyn, he thinks back to that era fondly. ”The fact that The Dramatics are guests on the title track, or that David Ruffin, Jr., son of the legendary Temptations singer, sings the hook on ‘Gin and Juice,’ is pure genius. Back in 1993 there was still a level of sampling and searching for the roots of Black music that was very evident in discs like Doggystyle. And a great respect for the music that had come before.”

But though they respected the music, Dre, Snoop and the boyz in the hood that appeared on Doggystyle had a real problem with women. Looking at the crudely drawn cover, a sexist take-off of Pedro Bell’s bizarro Parliament/Funkadelic art illustrated by Snoop’s cuz Joe Cool, we see a female dog bent over, her head inside the dog house as she waits to be boned. Meanwhile, the lyrics on the songs and skits was more than some female fans could take.

“I don’t think I ever made it through the whole Doggystyle album,” says feminist writer fayemi shakur. “As a girl who loves hip-hop, it was just too hard on my ears. I wasn’t surprised when Dolores Tucker and other black leaders stomped all over gangsta rap and music degrading to women. On the flip side, Snoop introduced us to Lady of Rage (“G Funk Intro”)  and she was badass.”

Yet, as Kevin Powell points out, misogyny  was only the beginning of Snoop’s bad behavior. “Doggystyle helped to further normalize the N word in hip-hop, the love of drugs and liquor, as well as the reckless disrespect for women,” he says. “No one album did that by itself, but Doggystyle helped to spread a trend that we have now, unfortunately, been stuck with for two decades. Nothing wrong with reflecting what is going on in the hood. We should. Nevertheless, there is something wrong when there is no balance to all the negativity.”

Since its release in 1993, Doggystyle has joined the canon of wonderful California classics that includes Pet Sounds (the Beach Boys), Rumors (Fleetwood Mac) and the disco singles of Barry White. Twenty years later, Snoop and Dre’s songs “Who Am I (What’s My Name”), “Doggy Dog World” and “Gin and Juice” sound as fresh as they did back in the day.

Without a doubt those Doggystyle songs are played regularly at weddings and wakes, birthday parties and Bar Mitzvahs. “Doggystyle gave Snoop a permanent place in hip-hop history,” Kevin Powell says. “You cannot discuss hip-hop of the 1990s in general, or the West Coast specifically, without discussing Snoop Dogg.” —Michael Gonzales (@GonzoMike)

  • mistah dubs

    why wasn’t there any article for the chronic like this last year? Hip Hop DX got ya on that one lol but great read nonetheless

  • BrianRaider

    Great Job Mike! I Was 10 Years Old 20 Years Ago When I copped This Tape…. I Was In The 6th Grade!!! #SALUTE To The OG’s Of This Shit!!!