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Today in Hip-Hop: Snoop Doggy Dogg Drops ‘Doggystyle’ Album

On this day, Nov. 23, in hip-hop history…

Death Row Records
Death Row Records

1993:  Back in the early ’90s, Calvin Broadus a.k.a Snoop Doggy Dogg was Public Enemy No. 1 in mainstream America’s war against hip-hop. Today, he is the cuddly, talk show-hosting “Uncle Snoop”—a cultural icon that even your grandmother could love—but two decades prior, Snoop was the face of everything that was supposedly wrong with rap. It was violent, misogynistic and profane. Despite his growing popularity, Snoop was vilified for his music, finding himself famously slapped on the cover of Newsweek with the tagline, “When Is Rap 2 Violent?” The reason for this was evident: Snoop Dogg was the biggest rapper on the planet and his groundbreaking debut, Doggystyle, was the hottest thing around, making the mainstream a little edgy.

There are very few albums like Doggystyle to this day. Snoop had made his professional debut on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic a year prior and Doggystyle served as a de facto sequel to Dre’s magnum opus. The G-Funk formula remained the same: George Clinton samples, squealing synthesizers, women, weed and AK-47s. Doggystyle was the perfect blend of melody and straight-up gangsterism that felt like the future upon its release. Snoop’s drawling flow and sing-songy rhymes brought hip-hop a silvery sound that was simply ahead of its time.

“Gin & Juice,” “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?),” “Doggy Dogg World,” “Aint No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None)”—every song on the album is damn near a classic and can be heard rocking weddings, proms, house parties and Bar Mitzvahs to this day. Doggstyle has the distinguished title of being the first debut album to land at No.1 on the Billboard charts, but more than that, Snoop simply captured the sound of the era. The album was “gangster” yet inviting enough for casual listeners to groove along to it.

Doggstyle is a West Coast classic that despite the fear-mongering it engendered amongst cultural critics, helped normalize rap music as part of the permanent cultural lexicon. More than 23 years later, it’s still a Doggy Doggy World.

One tragic thing about the LP is how “Gz Up, Hoes Down” was only included on the original album pressing. It had to be taken off later copies due to a sample dispute over Isaac Hayes’ “The Look of Love.” Hear the song below.

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