From The Archvies: Snoop Dogg, “The Coolest” [Originally Published April 2008]

After Tupac was killed, was that when you decided to move beyond just the music industry?

No. That’s when I wanted to just start doing songs with other people outside of Death Row. I wanted to expand and start making people know me for who I am. Because there was a persona that was out there of me that was misunderstood. I didn’t want people to think I was a murderer. I wanted muthafuckas to know who I was.

Seems like you’re able to straddle that line in a way that most artists can’t. Between being a mainstream star and the streets. “Drop It Like It’s Hot” was a No. 1 pop hit, and you were dropping overt Crip references on it.

I’m a Libra. I’m balanced. It’s a reference. When you rap, you being very boisterous about who you are and what you are. It’s not say- ing, “Hey, go join a gang. Go fuck up some niggas.” I didn’t say that. I said, “I wear a blue flag hanging out my back side/Only on the left side/Yeah, that’s the Crip side.”

Were you ever surprised that you appealed to such a wide spectrum of people?

I was always like that. Even before I became successful, I had a good way of communicating with people of different colors and ages and eth- nicities. All that. I just ran with a bunch of muthafuckas that just wasn’t Black. When my music started appealing to people that just wasn’t Black, it didn’t surprise me, because I never just did shit for Black peo- ple. When I grew up in Long Beach, I went to a White junior school. Then I came back to Poly High School, which was a Black school. I was able to mix and mingle and get down and make it happen.

In the grand scheme of things, was bringing gangster rap to White people a good thing?

It was a great thing. Because White people brought Black people gangster movies, and that’s what inspired gangster rap. It all comple- ments each other. We see a great movie that inspires us to make great music. How many use Scarface? Goodfellas? Movies that were made by somebody that’s not Black.

Could you make a “Deep Cover” or “Murder Was the Case” today and still be true to yourself?

Definitely, if that’s the way I feel. I’m only going to make records about how I feel. Some of those feelings never leave me. When I perform those songs onstage, it takes me right back to that feeling again. There are certain times when I’m riding with my young son, and we see the police, and the first thing he says is, “I can’t stand the police. I hate them.” That’s his mentality.

Why does he say that?

I don’t know. You would have to ask him. That’s the vibe that they giving off on him because they mess with his daddy so much.

Do you think you’re a target?
I know I’m a target.

You were arrested three times within three months last fall. But you got off with probation and community service. How does Snoop stay out of jail?

I don’t have no violent crimes. None of them crimes is violent. None of those crimes are shooting a muthafucka, slap a muthafucka. The crime is possession.

Your arrest record has impeded some of your travel plans. Did it hurt when the Australian immigration minister said, “He’s not the kind of bloke we would want around”?

Did I get banned from Australia, too? [Snoop’s manager, Constance Schwartz, who has been sitting quietly in the corner, interjects: “Only temporarily.”]

Since Death Row’s heyday in the mid-’90s, there hasn’t been another West Coast label to achieve that kind of dominance. Why do you think that is?

We don’t spend money on our artists out here. When Death Row fell down, it knocked the whole business sense out here. Nobody wants to do business with the West Coast, because they fear the fact that it will become a Death Row Records again. Why hasn’t Snoop Dogg been given a CEO spot at one of these record labels? Why haven’t I been given a president spot, like Jay-Z? Why haven’t I been given the chance to develop and find new talent and put it out on the West Coast? Why? You use me to be on the singles. You use me to make your artists hot. You use me to get something sold. Why can’t you use me as a VP? I’m too West Coast for you? I’m international. I’m the biggest rapper in the world.

Is it still hard being Snoop D-O-double-G?

Every day. It’s the hardest thing in the world to be. – Written by Thomas Golianopolous