“If it’s flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, be the best hamburger flipper in the world. Whatever it is you do you have to master your craft.” — Snoop Dogg
There are few characters in the world of hip hop as smooth and smokey as Snoop Dogg. Ageing like a fine cognac, the rapper has become one of the idols of hip hop, breaching the mainstream, turning his hand to countless styles and all while maintaining perhaps the most unique flow in the rap game. Here, we’ve picked out five songs that define the enigmatic Snoop Doggy Dogg.
Calvin Broadus Jr., AKA Snoop Dogg, Snoop Lion, The Doggfather and countless other aliases, broke on to the hip hop scene in 1992 and quickly went on to become one of the most famous men in hip hop. Much like the rock stars of old, a lot of what has made Snoop one of the greats is his ability to transform himself into the style and sounds of the day.
Initially breaking out as one of Dr Dre’s prodigies, the rapper soon found his own niche and while making cameos a searing part of his progression, he also delivered some of his own classic anthems. Below we’re picking out a little of both as we pay homage to one of the true greats of the hip hop world.
With a stunning discography that spans genres and decades with equal ease, picking out only five songs to define the great man was always going to be a tough ask. However, there can be no doubt that without these five tracks, the world may never have known about the smoky smoothness of Snoop Dogg.
Snoop is a true master of his craft and, as the above quote suggests, has always given his all to making music. Here are five reasons why he’s one of the best.
Snoop Dogg’s 5 best songs:
‘Murder Was The Case’
Some rappers merely reflect their surroundings, not so for Snoop. Born in the projects and no stranger to police custody one of Snoop’s finest efforts was a semi-autobiographical retelling of a murder charge he faced. ‘Murder was the Case’ is a defining moment in Snoop’s journey to the top.
Already a bonafide hip hop superstar, Snoop and Dr Dre deliver a quintessential gangster rap tune with this number. The song speaks of Snoop’s ultimate sliding doors moments when a judge offered him the chance to either find a new, more righteous, path or continue down the road of drugs, death and prison. Snoop chose the former and expressed it within this classic song.
‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ (featuring Pharrell)
One key aspect of hip hop for any rapper is to find yourself the perfect producer. Of course, Snoop initially broke out with this very notion, siding up to Dre when the former N.W.A. man was near the peak of his powers. Snoop pulled off a similar move when noticing the growing prestige of Neptunes man, and soon-to-be pop kingmaker, Pharrell.
Released as the lead single from his album R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta), ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ not only kept Snoop’s name at the top of an ever-increasing hip hop pile but secured his highest-charting song to date. Production-wise it is one of Pharell’s finest beats, minimalist and slick, it allowed Snoop’s ice-cold flow to remain frozen. It also ensured that Snoop had once again infiltrated the mainstream. Not bad for a bonafide gangster.
‘Who Am I (What’s My Name)?’
A defining moment in any rapper’s career, the ‘name song’ is a guaranteed Kickstarter if it goes well — just ask Eminem. Still, there’s something extra special about Snoop’s own declaration on the airwaves. Taken from his debut album Doggystyle, the Doggfather didn’t disappoint and confirmed his name would be on everybody’s lips for some time.
Using a sample from George Clinton’s ‘Atomic Dog’, a fitting choice if ever we heard one, Snoop reigned supreme with this track. Buoyed by the dynamic production of Dre, Snoop would cement his career in this one song.
‘Nuthin’ But A G Thang’ (Dr. Dre, featuring Snoop Dogg)
“One, two, three and to the fo’/Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre is at the do’…” is an intro that will ring around the hip hop amphitheatre for decades to come. One of the most well-recognised intros in history, the song only gets better with every passing listen. A cornucopia of 1990s themes, the g-rap style and Dre’s effortlessly hazy production make this a seminal song, not only for Snoop but the popular culture at large.
Using Leon Haywood’s ‘I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You’, the song became Snoop’s first entry into the upper echelons of the Billboard 100. A track rightly seen as a defining moment in musical history is also the very spark that would light the Snoop Dogg firework and send him spiralling into the stratosphere.
‘Gin and Juice’
The second single from his debut album Doggystyle, ‘Gin and Juice’ is arguably the very distillation of what makes Snoop Dogg a true hip hop hero. Based around the theme of an impromptu house party, the song reflects the life of Snoop Dogg and his time in the LBC, sipping on, you guessed it, gin and juice.
A hook that will outlast the very notions of a house party, ‘Gin and Juice’ remains one of Snoop’s finest collaborations with Dr Dre. The former N.W.A. man picked out a sample of ‘I Get Lifted’ by KC and the Sunshine Band but it is Snoop’s narrative storytelling that really steals the show, laying out a blueprint for his entire career.