‘Murder Was the Case’ by Snoop Dogg has a number of layers and meanings. Although it was a song on his 1993 album Doggystyle, the title also denotes a short film that came out in 1994, featuring a soundtrack by the rapper himself.
The short film was 18 minutes long and was directed by Dr. Dre. In the film, Snoop Dogg dies and is resurrected after making a deal with the devil.
Perhaps some of the themes of the short film were foreshadowed in Snoop Dogg’s 1993 MTV VMA performance, where he played the song live against the background of incredible set design. The set opens on a funeral scene—again, foreshadowing the short film. There’s a full choir and even a priest setup. Weirdly, it almost seems like Snoop Dogg is about to rise up out of the coffin until he comes in pushed in a wheelchair from the side of the stage instead.
The camera even zooms in on the coffin opening and closing in the centre of the stage, as if everyone was expecting it. One of the details that really jumps out about this performance is how young and carefree he looks. Of course, this was back in 1993, so it was nearly 30 years ago now—which sounds shocking to say. But there’s a sort of liveliness to his performance that reminds you of just how much love he’s always had for his craft.
The rest of the performance is relatively simple, as Snoop Dogg raps the song, no frills needed. He walks around the stage, interacts with the crowd, and bops along to the music. The choir is put to good use at strategic moments, making for a short, memorable performance. Really, this reminds us what award show features were made to be like. It’s not infinitely long, but it does have a bit of spectacle.
If you’re curious to take a watch, and a listen, to Snoop Dogg’s 1993 MTV VMA performance of ‘Murder Was the Case’, you can find it down below. If you’ve seen the film, you can even look for easter eggs in the set!