Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Jr. (born October 20, 1971), best known by his stage name Snoop Dogg (formerly Snoop Doggy Dogg) and now also using an alter ego pseudonym Snoop Lion, is an American rapper/reggae singer, record producer, and actor. Snoop is best known as a rapper in the West Coast hip hop scene, and for being one of Dr. Dre’s most notable protégés. Snoop Lion was a Crip gang member while in high school. Shortly after graduation, he was arrested for cocaine possession and spent six months in Wayside County Jail. His music career began in 1992 after his release when he was discovered by Dr. Dre. He collaborated on several tracks on Dre’s solo debut, The Chronic and on the titular theme song to the film Deep Cover.
Snoop’s debut album Doggystyle, was released in 1993 under Death Row Records making a debut at No.1 on both the Billboard 200 and R&B charts. Selling almost a million copies in the first week of its release, Doggystyle quickly became certified 4× platinum in 1994 and spawned several hit singles, including “What’s My Name” and “Gin & Juice”. In 1994, Snoop released a soundtrack on Death Row Records for the short film Murder Was The Case, starring himself. In early 1996, Snoop Dogg was cleared of charges over his bodyguard’s 1993 murder of Philip Woldemariam. His second album, late 1996’s Tha Doggfather, also debuted at No.1 on both charts with “Snoop’s Upside Ya Head” as the lead single. The album sold only half as well, being certified double platinum in 1997.
Tha Doggfather was his last release for Death Row before he signed with No Limit Records, where he recorded his next three albums. Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told in 1998, No Limit Top Dogg in 1999 (making it his last album of the 90s), and Tha Last Meal in 2000, which was his last No Limit Records album. Snoop then signed with Priority/Capitol/EMI Records in 2002, where he released his album Paid tha Cost to Be da Boss. Then he signed with Geffen Records in 2004 for his next three albums R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece, Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, and Ego Trippin’. Malice ‘n Wonderland (2009) and Doggumentary (2011), his most recent release, were on Priority.
In addition to music, Snoop Lion has starred in motion pictures and hosted several television shows: Doggy Fizzle Televizzle, Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood and Dogg After Dark. He also coaches a youth football league and high school football team. He has run into many legal troubles, some of which caused him to be legally banned from the UK and Australia, although the UK ban was later reversed after a long legal battle. He is the cousin of Nate Dogg, Daz Dillinger, RBX and Lil’ ½ Dead and the cousin of R&B singers Brandy and Ray J. Starting September 2009, Snoop was hired by EMI as the chairman of a reactivated Priority Records.
Named after his stepfather, Calvin Cordozar Broadus, Sr. (December 10, 1948 – November 9, 1985, Los Angeles), Calvin Broadus was born October 20, 1971 at the Los Altos Hospital in Long Beach, California, the second of three sons of Beverly Broadus (née Tate; born April 27, 1951, McComb, Mississippi). His father, Vernall Varnado (born December 13, 1949, Magnolia, Mississippi), was a Vietnam veteran, singer, and mail carrier who was said to be frequently absent from his life. Broadus’ parents nicknamed him “Snoopy” as a child because of his appearance, but usually addressed him as Calvin at home. His mother and stepfather divorced in 1975. At an early age, Broadus began singing in Golgotha Trinity Baptist Church and playing piano; when he was in sixth grade, he began rapping. He attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School, and was convicted for cocaine possession, serving six months at the Wayside County Jail.
As a teenager, Snoop Dogg frequently ran into trouble with the law. Snoop Dogg was a member of the Rollin’ 20 Crips gang in the Eastside of Long Beach, although he stated in 1993 that he never joined a gang. Shortly after graduating from high school, he was arrested for possession of cocaine and for the following three years was frequently in and out of prison. Snoop, along with his cousins Nate Dogg and Lil’ ½ Dead and friend Warren G, recorded home made tapes as a group called 213, named after the Long Beach area code at the time. One of his early solo freestyles over En Vogue’s “Hold On” had made it to a mixtape which was heard by influential producer Dr. Dre, who phoned to invite him to an audition. Former N.W.A member The D.O.C. taught him how to structure his lyrics and separate the thematics into verses, hooks and chorus.
When he began recording, Broadus took the stage name Snoop Doggy Dogg. Dr. Dre began working with Snoop Dogg, first on the theme song of the 1992 film Deep Cover, and then on Dr. Dre’s debut solo album The Chronic with the other members of his former starting group, Tha Dogg Pound. The huge success of Snoop Dogg’s debut Doggystyle was partially because of this intense exposure.
To fuel the ascendance of West Coast G-funk hip hop, the singles “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” and “Gin and Juice” reached the top ten most-played songs in the United States, and the album stayed on the Billboard charts for several months. Gangsta rap became the center of arguments for censorship and labeling, with Snoop Dogg often used as an example of violent and misogynistic musicians. Doggystyle, much like The Chronic, featured a host of rappers signed to or affiliated with the Death Row label including Daz Dillinger, Kurupt, Nate Dogg and others. Rolling Stone music critic Touré asserted that Snoop had a relatively soft vocal delivery compared to other rappers: “Snoop’s vocal style is part of what distinguishes him: where many rappers scream, figuratively and literally, he speaks softly.”
A short film about Snoop Dogg’s murder trial called Murder Was The Case, was released in 1994, along with an accompanying soundtrack. On July 6, 1995, Doggy Style Records, Inc., a record label founded by Snoop Dogg, was registered with the California Secretary of State as business entity number C1923139.
1996–97: Tha Doggfather
After Snoop Dogg was acquitted of murder charges on February 20, 1996, he and the mother of his son and their kennel of 20 pit bulls moved into a 5,000-square-foot (460 m2) home in the hills of Claremont, California and by August 1996 Doggy Style Records, a subsidiary of Death Row Records, signed The Gap Band’s Charlie Wilson as one of the record label’s first artists.
However, by the time Snoop Dogg’s second album, Tha Doggfather, was released in November 1996, the price of living (or sometimes just imitating) the gangsta life had become very evident. Among the many notable hip hop industry deaths and convictions were the death of Snoop Dogg’s friend and labelmate 2Pac and the racketeering indictment of Death Row co-founder Suge Knight. Dr. Dre had left Death Row earlier in 1996 because of a contract dispute, so Snoop Dogg co-produced Tha Doggfather with Daz Dillinger and DJ Pooh.
This album featured a distinct change of style as compared to Doggystyle, and the leadoff single, “Snoop’s Upside Ya Head”, featured a collaboration with Gap Band frontman Charlie Wilson. While the album sold reasonably well, it was not as successful as its predecessor. However, Tha Doggfather had a somewhat softer approach to the G-funk style. The immediate aftermath of Dr. Dre’s withdrawal from Death Row Records, realizing that he was subject to an iron-clad time-based contract (i.e., that Death Row practically owned anything he produced for a number of years), Snoop Dogg refused to produce any more tracks for Suge Knight, other than the insulting “F–k Death Row”, until his contract expired. In an interview with Neil Strauss in 1998, Snoop Dogg stated that though he had been given lavish gifts by his former label they had withheld royalty payments to the artist.
Stephen Thomas Erlewine of Allmusic said that after Tha Doggfather, Snoop Dogg began “moving away from his gangsta roots toward a calmer lyrical aesthetic”: for instance, Snoop participated in the 1997 Lollapalooza concert tour, which featured mainly alternative rock music. Troy J. Augusto of Variety noticed that Snoop’s set at Lollapalooza attracted “much dancing, and, strangely, even a small mosh pit” in the audience.
1998–2000: No Limit, Top Dogg and Tha Last Meal
Snoop signed with Master P’s No Limit Records (distributed by Priority/EMI Records) in 1998 and debuted on the label with Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told that year. His other albums from No Limit were No Limit Top Dogg in 1999 (selling over 1,503,865 copies) and Tha Last Meal in 2000 (selling over 1,000,000). In 2001, his autobiography, Tha Doggfather, was published.
2002: Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$
In 2002 he released the album Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$, on Priority/Capitol/EMI Records, selling over 1,300,000 copies. The album featured the hit singles “From tha Chuuuch to da Palace” and “Beautiful”, featuring guest vocals by Pharrell. By this stage in his career, Snoop Dogg had left behind his “gangster” image and embraced a “pimp” image.
2004–05: R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece
In 2004, Snoop signed to Geffen Records/Star Trak Entertainment both of which are distributed through Interscope Records; Star Trak is headed by producer duo The Neptunes, which produced several tracks for Snoop’s 2004 release R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece. “Drop It Like It’s Hot” (featuring Pharrell), the first single released from the album, was a hit and became Snoop Dogg’s first single to reach number one. His third release was “Signs”, featuring Justin Timberlake and Charlie Wilson, which entered the UK chart at #2. This was his highest entry ever in the UK chart. The album sold 1,724,000 copies in the U.S. alone, and most of its singles were heavily played on radio and television. Snoop Dogg joined Warren G and Nate Dogg to form the group 213 and released album The Hard Way in 2004. Debuting at No.4 on the Billboard 200 and No.1 on the Top R&B/Hip-Hop Albums, it included single “Groupie Luv”. Together with fellow rappers Lil’ Jon, Xzibit and David Banner, Snoop Dogg appeared in the music video for Korn’s “Twisted Transistor”.
2006: Tha Blue Carpet Treatment
Snoop Dogg’s appeared on two tracks from Ice Cube’s 2006 album Laugh Now, Cry Later, including the single “Go to Church”, and on several tracks on Tha Dogg Pound’s Cali Iz Active the same year. Also, his latest song, “Real Talk”, was leaked over the Internet in the summer of 2006 and a video was later released on the Internet. “Real Talk” was a dedication to former Crips leader Stanley “Tookie” Williams and a diss to Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Governor of California. Two other singles on which Snoop made a guest performance were “Keep Bouncing” by Too $hort (also with will.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas) and “Gangsta Walk” by Coolio.
Snoop’s 2006 album, Tha Blue Carpet Treatment, debuted on the Billboard 200 at No.5 and has sold over 850,000 copies. The album and the second single “That’s That sh-t” featuring R. Kelly were well received by critics. In the album, he collaborated in a video with E-40 and other West Coast rappers for his single “Candy (Drippin’ Like Water)”.
2007–08: Ego Trippin’
In July 2007, Snoop Dogg also made history by becoming the first artist to release a track as a ringtone prior to its release as a single, which was “It’s the D.O.G.” On July 7, 2007, Snoop Dogg performed at the Live Earth concert, Hamburg. Snoop Dogg has ventured into singing for Bollywood with his first ever rap for an Indian movie Singh Is Kinng; the title of the song is also “Singh is Kinng”. He also appears in the movie as himself. The album featuring the song was released on June 8, 2008 on Junglee Music Records. He released his ninth studio album, Ego Trippin’ (selling 400,000 copies in the U.S.), along with the first single, “Sexual Eruption”. The single peaked at No.7 on the Billboard 100, featuring Snoop using autotune. The album featured production from QDT (Quik-Dogg-Teddy).
2009–10: Malice n Wonderland and More Malice
Snoop was appointed an executive position at Priority Records. His tenth studio album, Malice n Wonderland, was released on December 8, 2009. The first single from the album, “Gangsta Luv”, featuring The-Dream, peaked at No.35 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album debuted at No.23 on the Billboard 200, selling 61,000 copies its first week, making it his lowest charting album. His third single, “I Wanna Rock”, peaked at No.41 on the Billboard Hot 100. Snoop features on the latest Gorillaz album, Plastic Beach. The fourth single from Malice n Wonderland, titled “Pronto”, featuring Soulja Boy Tell ‘Em, was released on iTunes on December 1, 2009. Snoop re-released the album under the name More Malice.
Snoop collaborated with Katy Perry on the first single from her second mainstream album, “California Gurls”, which was released on May 11, 2010. Snoop can also be heard on the track “Flashing” by Dr. Dre and on Curren$y’s song “Seat Change”. He was also featured on a new single from Australian singer Jessica Mauboy, titled “Get ‘em Girls” (released September 2010). Snoop’s latest effort was backing American recording artist, Emii, on her second single entitled “Mr. Romeo” (released October 26, 2010 as a follow-up to “Magic”). Snoop also collaborated with American comedy troupe The Lonely Island in their song “Turtleneck & Chain”, in their 2011 album Turtleneck & Chain.
Snoop Dogg’s newest studio album is Doggumentary. The album went through several tentative titles including Doggystyle 2: Tha Doggumentary and Doggumentary Music: 0020 before being released under the final title Doggumentary during March 2011. Snoop was featured on Gorillaz’ latest album Plastic Beach on a track called: “Welcome to the World of the Plastic Beach” with the The Hypnotic Brass, he also completed another track with them entitled “Sumthing Like This Night” which does not appear on Plastic Beach, yet does appear on Doggumentary. He also appears on the latest Tech N9ne album All 6’s and 7’s (released June 7, 2011) on a track called “Pornographic” which also features E-40 and Krizz Kaliko.
On February 4, 2012, Snoop Dogg announced a new documentary alongside his new upcoming studio album entitled Reincarnated. On July 20, 2012, Snoop Dogg released a new reggae single, “La La La” under the pseudonym Snoop Lion. Three other songs were also announced to be on the album, “No Guns Allowed”, “Ashtrays and Heartbreaks”, and “Harder Times”.
On July 31, 2012, Snoop Dogg changed his stage name to Snoop Lion. Snoop told reporters that he was rechristened Snoop Lion by a Rastafarian priest in Jamaica.
Snoop Lion reggae debut album Reincarnated is due in the spring of 2013.