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Rapper Snoop Doggy Dogg, with his lazy drawl and gangster persona, became one of the most commercially successful artists in all of rap. Alongside artists like N.W.A., Tupac, and Ice-T, Snoop epitomizes West Coast hip-hop. Debuting in 1992 as a collaborator on Dr. Dre's 1992 multiplatinum The Chronic, Snoop followed soon after with the release of Doggystyle, which set a new record as the then-biggest selling rap album.
Calvin Broadus (nicknamed Snoop by his mother) was born and raised on the tough streets of Long Beach, California. Shortly after graduating from high school, Snoop was arrested on cocaine charge; he spent the next three years in and out of jail. In 1990 Snoop began to record underground tapes with a friend, rapper Warren G, who subsequently gave a cassette to his brother, N.W.A's Dr. Dre. Dre was impressed with what he heads, and Dre and Snoop began working together on the single "Deep Cover" for a movie of the same name. By the time Dre started recording The Chronic, Snoop was his right-hand man, performing on more than half of the album. Buoyed by the acclaim received for his contributions, Snoop entered the studio to record his own album for Dre's Death Row Records. The result, the Dr. Dre-produced Doggystyle, was one of the most anticipated rap records in history. With beats straight out of the P-Funk tradition, songs like "What's My Name?" (#8 pop, #8 R&B, 1993) and "Gin & Juice" (#8 pop, #13 R&B, 1994) became bicoastal party anthems. Doggystyle entered the Billboard chart at #1 the first week of its release (the first debut album ever to do so).
Despite his success, however, Snoop encountered trouble with the law. In 1993 he was arrested in connection with the murder of a man who the rapper alleged had been stalking him. Together with his bodyguard, who was reported to have fired the gun that killed the man in 1993, Snoop was arraigned to stand trial in L.A. The trial concluded in February 1996 with both Snoop and his bodyguard being acquitted of all charges. In the meantime, the 1994 soundtrack Murder Was the Case (#1), from the short film directed by Dr. Dre, featured three Snoop songs, including the title track. In 1996, with Dr. Dre no longer at the controls, Snoop dropped the chart-topping Tha Doggfather (#1 pop, #1 R&B).
After the murder of label mate Tupac and the incarceration of Death Row CEO Suge Knight, Snoop dropped the "Doggy" from his name and moved over to Master P's No Limit imprint. His next two No Limit albums, Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told (#1 pop, #1 R&B, 1998) and No Limit Top Dogg (#2 pop, #1 R&B, 1999), marking Snoop's coming into his own as a producer. He started his own label, Dogg House Records, and oversaw The Eastsidaz project. In 2000 Snoop joined forces with Dr. Dre, Eminem, and Ice Cube for the Up In Smoke summer tour, and later released his final album for No Limit, Last Meal (#4 pop, #1 R&B). That same year, Death Row released Dead Man Walkin (#24 pop, #11 R&B), a collection of material Snoop recorded before he left the label.
This biography originally appeared in The Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll (Simon & Schuster, 2001).
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