The rise of West Coast hip-hop was a slow and steady one. Beginning with Ice-T and his ‘6 In The Mornin’ track, Los Angeles took time to find itself musically. Ice-T (real name Tracy Morrow) would go highly unappreciated outside Los Angeles. Still, one thing that he did provide was hope, especially for African-Americans in South Central LA looking for a voice like Snoop Dogg was.
Ice-T would spark a movement in LA. Following his local success, a wave of artists would drop the famous East Coast sound of electro in favour of what is now known as Gangsta rap. It reflected the realities of living as a youth in South Central LA. The movement would take off like a fully fuelled-up rocket but was taken to new heights by N.W.A.
Comprised of Dr Dre, DJ Yella, MC Ren, Ice Cube, Eazy-E, and The D.O.C., the Compton collective would reach heights only New York natives had seen before and became loved nationwide. Adored for their brazen lyrics, bold attitudes and anti-establishment sentiments, the crew would rule the charts between 1985 and 1990. However, after cracks started to emerge and frustrations grew, group members began to embark on their solo journeys, including the legendary Dr Dre, who would go on to create nothing short of an empire.
In 1991, Suge Knight and Dr Dre (real name Andre Young) launched Death Row Records, where G-Funk was born and raised. One artist that would sign with Death Row in 1992 is the legendary Snoop Dogg who released his debut album, Doggystyle on the label to nationwide success. The second single of the legendary project was ‘Gin And Juice’ which is often considered one of the best G-funk songs of all time. In this article, we’re going to go behind the mic to learn more about how ‘Gin And Juice’ was made into the classic that it is.
Produced by Young at the Death Row studios in Tarzana, ‘Gin And Juice’ was made as one of the album’s few party tracks. With Death Row mostly releasing gangster-related music, Dre thought it would be suitable for Snoop’s album to have a fun side as he was from Long Beach. The city was a beachside party hotspot for those living in the inner-city areas of LA, and Snoop embodied its vibe.
A feelgood single, the song lyrics were written solely by Snoop (real name Calvin Broadus) as an ode to the many parties he had attended in Long Beach where gin and juice got served. It was considered the drink most complimentary to Marijuana and, therefore, the most popular. To create the infectious beat for this song, Young sampled the bass of the 1974 Soul track, ‘I Get Lifted’ by George McRae.
The flow of the Snoop’s lyrics for the chorus was inspired by ‘Watching You’ by Slave. The original song features the lyrics, “Walking down the street watching ladies, go by watching you.” However, this was swapped out by Young and Broadus and replaced by the more suitable, “Rollin’ down the street, smokin’ indo, sippin’ on gin and juice.” However, the singer they used for the album version of the track was David Ruffin Jr, the son of David Ruffin who was a member of the legendary blues group, The Temptations.
Speaking to VICE about how he and Dr Dre were drinking the concoction when they made the song, Snoop explained “Gin and juice was the choice of drink for a young playa. 1991, 1992, you didn’t really have a lot of money, you go get that gin. When it came time to make the record, Doggystyle, that was my thing: Every day I would come to the studio with my bottle of gin and juice in it, and Dre would have a big-ass milk jug full of gin and juice.”
Snoop even revealed that his favourite gin and juice combination was Tanqueray mixed with the fruit drink Super Socco and explained how as a teen, he would drink it out of an orange juice bottle so it would appear as orange juice to his mother.
‘Gin And Juice’ is undoubtedly a legendary song and will be one of the first and greatest G-funk tracks ever made. The track reached number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 and was nominated for a Grammy Award in the ‘Best Solo Rap Performance’ category. You can watch the single’s epic music video below.