Interview by Rick Florino
Pop culture always needs a Godfather figure. The legendary Marlon Brando gave us Don Corleone in the “70s, while Al Pacino’s Tony Montana gave the cocaine cowboys of the “greed is good” decade someone to look up to. But in the “90s and the “00s, one reigning cultural capo has reigned supreme ‚Äî Snoop Dogg.
Snoop’s classy gangster swagger, undeniable flow and unimpeachably hip-hop credibility have made him a veritable cultural icon. He’s left his unmistakable paw print on everything from multi-platinum albums to box-office-busting films and highly rated original TV programs. And now, he’s created his most personal and hilarious television show yet with MTV’s Dogg After Dark. Every Tuesday night at 9:00 pm, Snoop takes over a Hollywood club like only the Doggfather can. His famous friends pop by to kick it, there’s always a musical guest, and of course there’s no shortage of off-the-wall comedy. It’s Snoop Dogg’s world, everyone else just lives in it.
In between working on his next studio album and filming Dogg After Dark, Snoop took some time off some time to talk to ShockHound about his new music, taking over the media, and why he may very well be hip-hop’s answer to Frank Sinatra.
SHOCKHOUND: What was your initial inspiration for Dogg After Dark?
SNOOP DOGG: I just wanted to make a TV show that’s like nothing on right now. It gives me a chance to be able to maximize my strengths, which are communicating with entertainers, being a gentleman in a club atmosphere and doing what I do. MTV was the best place to do this at because it’s a musically driven channel. There’s nothing that can compete with what I was thinking of for this show, and it all just came together.
SHOCKHOUND: It emulates classic variety shows from the “50s and “60s, and you’re at the center like rap’s Frank Sinatra.
SNOOP DOGG: Yeah, it’s something like that. He’s “Ol’ Blue Eyes,” and I’m “Ol’ Blue Rag.” [Laughs]
SHOCKHOUND: The show has a swagger and class that’s been missing from television.
SNOOP DOGG: I appreciate that. That’s what we were looking for. We were trying to come up with something that was a little bit different from what you normally see. Late night TV is based upon a great host sitting behind a desk interviewing entertainers, athletes and whatever. However, I wanted my show to be about the movement, the flow and the wittiness of being there. When you watch it at home, you want to be there. You feel like you’ve got to be there even if you’re on your couch.
SHOCKHOUND: Is this more fun than Snoop Dogg’s Fatherhood and the other shows you’ve done over the years?
SNOOP DOGG: Everything I do is fun, but this is more about interacting with entertainers and seeing the chemistry in how I flow and how everybody gets down with Snoop Dogg. It’s cool to hang out with Snoop Dogg. What better way to show that than Dogg After Dark? From Paris Hilton, Fred Williamson and Ice Cube to Johnny Knoxville, football players and basketball players, it doesn’t matter. It’s all natural when it’s with me.
SHOCKHOUND: Does it make it easier that you’re already friends with most of the guests?
SNOOP DOGG: Yeah, that’s exactly why it flows so naturally, because I’ve already had the relationships with these people that are coming on my show. It’s the best thing moving! If you had to say one thing, you’d say, “Puff Daddy knows how to throw a party, and Snoop Dogg is the life of the party!” Those are great things. Puff Daddy is probably the best at throwing the party, and Snoop Dogg is probably the one who knows how to steal the party ‚Äî no matter whose party it is. It could be an Oscar party or a hood party; when I come in, it’s all eyes on me. We wanted to capture that. We wanted to put in a setting where it was my club, my spot and everything comes to me in my world.
SHOCKHOUND: You’ve got your own Rat Pack in some ways. Back in the day, Sinatra could roll up anywhere and steal the show.
SNOOP DOGG: That’s the way it was then. The great extension of Frank must be me. I’ll use basketball as an example. They always say, “Dr. J and Magic Johnson were the greatest, and then it went to Michael Jordan. Now, it’s Kobe Bryant and LeBron James.” The torch always gets passed to somebody else that can run with it a little further than you can. I think it’s my turn to run with it.
SHOCKHOUND: Well, given all your projects ‚Äî from headphones to clothing to your own beverage ‚Äî you’ve been able to pursue numerous commercial ventures while maintaining your artistic integrity. Last year’s Ego Trippin’ was still classic Snoop.
SNOOP DOGG: Thank you, when I go into anything that I do, I like to use my name as the brand because it’s all about the name that you’re pushing and putting out there. People know that the name “Snoop Dogg” comes with high quality, not quantity. It’s about good, quality product. Whether it’s TV, movies, clothes, alcohol or football, it’s always something that’s a cut above the rest. So when somebody gets it, it’s all me.
SHOCKHOUND: Speaking of movies, is there anything coming out that you want to see? What are some of your favorite flicks?
SNOOP DOGG: I love The Mack. I would really love to see that remade, and I’d love to play that character. I also want to see some of those great Bill Cosby and Sidney Poitier movies remade ‚Äî Uptown Saturday Night, Let’s Do It Again and movies like that. Those were movies that drew me to the drive-in with my mom when I was a youngster. They’re stuck in my head 20 or 30 years later. They’re doing a lot of remakes, but they’re not remaking the right black movies ‚Äî the right cinema that really was the mood back in the day. I feel like that’s missing.
SHOCKHOUND: When you’re creating music, do all of your other endeavors influence you?
SNOOP DOGG: Sometimes, I focus on drawing from that energy. However, sometimes I don’t want to have anything on my mind but whatever I’m into at that time, because I don’t ever want to confuse the music with the business. The people that are buying the music want to hear the music. They’re not really concerned about the business. They’re more concerned about me doing what I normally do ‚Äî making that music that makes them feel good. I’ve got to try to find my zone. Certain songs require me to touch on the things that I’m pushing at the moment, but pushing an album is about entertaining people, making them feel comfortable and making them feel good with the music I make.
SHOCKHOUND: What direction is the new material headed in? I’ve heard that film composer Lalo Schifrin has been involved with the record‚Äî what has he brought to the table?
SNOOP DOGG: It’s hard because I don’t ever make an album sound the same the whole way through. It’s going to have a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but the basic backdrop was given to me by Lalo. He gave me the title, Malice In Wonderland. It’s so evil and sinister to me that I feel like I need to be back in the zone rapping about what’s real as opposed to what’s unreal. Everybody doesn’t have nice cars or big homes. More people are going through depression and recession right now. That’s my angle to go back to when I was just Snoop Dogg, and I didn’t have a record deal. It wasn’t about the cars and the jewelry. It was about being a lyricist and wanting to be the dopest rapper in the world. That draws me to want to create songs like nobody’s ever made before.
*source – Shockhound:http://www.shockhound.com/features/437-snoop-dogg—everything-i-do-is-fun-