As the unique and exciting artist that he is, Death Row owner and Doggystyle rapper Snoop Dogg has had a lot of interesting landmark moments in his career. With his journey beginning in the early 1990s, Snoop Dogg’s sound and aesthetic have undoubtedly changed over time.
First surfacing in 1992, the emcee (real name Calvin Broaddus) was considered by most to be a G-funk artist. As part of Suge Knight and Dr Dre’s Death Row empire, Broadus was one of the many artists pushing the Compelling California-bred sonic shift. However, this was just the start of a career spanning three decades.
Snoop’s 1993 debut album, Doggystyle, was executively produced and perfectly captured the essence of ’90s LA. However, by the turn of the millennium, as Death Row Records began to splinter, Snoop started to forge his own lane and take on more creative control concerning his music. For years, his city and label had dictated his look and sound. However, as a musician independent of Dr Dre, it is undeniable that Snoop could produce fresh material beyond the realms of G-funk.
Snoop parted ways with Death Row in 1998, and following the east coast vs west coast feud, Snoop began looking for a new sound to reinvigorate himself and his fans. It was a necessity for Broadus if he was to survive in the industry for another decade. Looking to diversify his sound, the emcee worked with a multitude of producers from all over the US. Loyal Snoop Dogg fans have seen the icon go through many sonic and aesthetic phases. Some are more successful than others.
The early 2000s saw the Long Beach act receive a lot of success, and according to Snoop himself, it resulted from Jay-Z and East Coast rap more widely. Addressing creative competition and “You think Jay-Z and me and Nas and all these n*ggas was based on us not having creative competition! That’s what it’s always about, but it’s not about hate! It’s about ‘Oh that n*gga just dropped a bomb a** album! What producers he use? Pharrell?! Call that n*gga!'”
Snoop admitted on The Drink Champs podcast that he first reached out to The Neptunes after hearing their work with Jay-Z. The ‘Doggfather’ saw a vast amount of success alongside the Neptunes. Together, they collaborated on several tracks such as ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’, ‘Signs’ and ‘Beautiful’. The pair had a winning formula, with everything they made going to the top. However, by 2006, Snoop and Pharrell began to go in different creative directions. This end of an era saw the California artist experiment with a new style. In 2007, Broadus released his ninth studio album, Ego Trippin’, which saw him stray slightly from hip-hop and begin experimenting with other genres. Ego Trippin’ saw a lot of production from the New Jack Swing producer Teddy Riley and heard the musician get more light-hearted with his music. Many fans would consider this Snoop Dogg’s soul era.
A range of iconic artists influenced Snoop to move in this direction. Ego Trippin’s lead single ‘Sensual Seduction’ saw Broadus really embody the 1980s funk and soul figures who had inspired him growing up.In an interview with MTV for its ‘Sucker Free Sunday’ interview series, about the 1980s old-school-inspired track and video, Snoop explained, “The song and the video is just the way I’m feeling right now. I wanted to have some fun. I wanted to do something that was sorta kinda like throwbackish to where it wasn’t the same girls, the same cars, the same look, the same everything in the videos that I’m so used to seeing right now, and we’re so used to seeing.”
Listing his influences, Broadus detailed, “What better way than to have a video where I could reflect back on some of the guys I was inspired by – Roger Troutman, Prince, Rick James. These guys influenced me. So this video is just showing love to them and what they done. I actually showed the talkbox because what T-Pain is doing is not talkbox. His is Auto-Tune, which is you sing, and then they make your voice sound right in the computer. What I did was I played the notes through the talkbox; that’s why I have the tube in there. And that tube that I’m using is a piece that goes to the keyboard, which Roger Troutman was known for.”
Snoop Dogg’s soul era was evidently driven by the likes of the legendary Ohio singer Roger Troutman who was also heavily involved in the P-funk movement that birthed G-funk. Roger Troutman is even responsible for the funky vocals of ‘California Love’. You can listen to ‘Sensual Seduction’ in the video below.