Week Fulla 90s West Coast Hip Hop – First Listen #52: Snoop Dogg’s ‘Doggystyle’

As much as Snoop Dogg annoys me as a person, I find him so fascinating. He’s had a hand in everything, done everything, seen everything, gave us that iconic silk press in the 90s. And he’s only 49! In my mind, Snoop is at least 60 years old because he seems to have lived seven different lives, but he’s barely reached his fifth decade of life. I took a scroll through the parts of his discography that are available on Spotify, and the amount of projects he has on there that I’ve never heard anyone talk about is insane. There’s at least 20 full length projects listed. Like……where did all of these albums come from? His gospel phase, his reggae “Snoop Lion” moment, Make America Crip Again (2017). Snoop is just………too MUCH. But even with all of that Snoop material, I’ve yet to listen to an entire Snoop project. And Doggystyle (1993) felt like the perfect place to start.

Photo Credit: https://www.reddit.com/r/OldSchoolCool/comments/9uuh9v/snoop_dogg_1993/

1993: Doggystyle

(via Genius)

Out of the four 90s West Coast albums that I’ve listened to this week, I think Doggystyle is my favorite. Like The Chronic, I was so sure that I wasn’t going to like this project, but it ended up being extremely entertaining. The worldbuilding that happens during the 52-minute runtime of Doggystyle makes the experience of listening to it so vivid and colorful. Snoop Dogg’s flow on this project, mixed with how LUSH the production was, made for an enjoyable listening experience at all levels.

From the depths of the sea, back to the block

Snoop Doggy Dogg, funky as the, the, The D.O.C

Went solo on that ass, but it’s still the same

Long Beach is the spot where I serve my ‘caine

Follow me, follow me, follow me, follow me, but don’t lose your grip

Nine-trizzay’s the yizzear for me to fuck up shit

So I ain’t holdin nuttin’ back

Snoop Dogg, “What’s My Name?”

And, like, Snoop arguably has the best rap voice in the game. All of the folks this week so far have had something special, but Snoop could literally start speaking gibberish in a song, and his voice would make it sound like a top tier bar. It’s jazzy, melodic, and the way he splits up words in his lines is chef’s kiss. There are few people who have flows that I’d place at god-level, and Snoop is one of those few. Instead of his verses just being a bunch of words that rhyme, he switches up his cadence and pace to make his lyrics more dynamic. Every track on here sees Snoop at his lyrical best. And the features on Doggystyle give us the same energy; everyone brought their A-games to this project. This was another album that I wish was considered a posse cut, rather than just Snoop’s project. He takes center-stage on here more than Dre did on The Chronic, so it is his project, but the features give so much that it feels a little disrespectful for them to just be left in “featured artist” land.

I loved Lady of Rage’s verse on “G-funk Intro.” I appreciated her being the first voice we hear on the album proper; it’s not common on these albums for a woman to start us off and absolutely BODY her verse. Daz’s chorus on “Gin and Juice” is the reason that song is so iconic, and Lil’ Malik was the perfect addition to “Pump Pump.” Those are just a few of the standout feature moments on the project. And Snoop does a great job on here of letting his featured artists have their moment in the spotlight; I think that’s something all of the main artists this week have done a good job of. They all recognized the level of talent that the people they brought on to support them had and gave them those moments to shine fully. No one was trying to overshine – at least not from how it comes off – so it’s incredibly cohesive, and they match the energy put off by Cube, Tupac, Dre, and Snoop.

More than figuratively, this album was literally a family affair (by Mary J. Blige); several of the rappers on here including RBX, Nate Dogg (idk why I never made the “Dogg” connection), Lil’ Malik, and Daz are Snoop’s cousins (here’s your yearly reminder that Brandy and Ray J are also his cousins), and another cousin, Joe Cool, drew the cover art for the album. I feel like that’s something that’s missing in contemporary hip hop – that intentionality behind putting back into the community you came from, not just financially, but also offering opportunities for people to come up off their own skills. Everyone could use an extra couple hundred dollars in their pocket (Biden needs to come on with that next stimmy), but folks have potential on their own; all they need is the chance to show it. Joe Cool was fresh out of prison with a drug habit that had the potential to really ruin his life. Snoop urged him to get clean and gave him the opportunity to help him bring his album to life, and the cover of Doggystyle has remained one of the most iconic and recognizable rap album covers for almost three decades. We need more of that!

As for the tracks on here, I like them all, but I have some faves. Obviously, “Gin and Juice” is a favorite track on here. I mean, who isn’t completely losing their mind at “With so much drama in the L-B-C / It’s kind of hard bein’ Snoop D-O-double-G / But I, somehow, some way / Keep comin’ up with funky-ass shit, like, every single day / May I kick a little something for the G’s / And make a few ends as I breeze through?” I also loved “What’s My Name?” and “Ain’t No Fun,” despite it being the unhinged misogynistic moment of the album. Oh, and the Kool and the Gang “Summer Madness” sample on “Doggy Dogg World” was fantastic. “Summer Madness is one of my favorite songs, so I felt “Doggy Dogg World” deep in the pits of my heart. “G-funk Intro” – mostly due to that Lady of Rage verse – was also really nice; it reminded me a lot of the intro track from Kendrick Lamar’s To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), which also has George Clinton and Dr. Dre on it and has that G-funk sound at the core of its production…..so I’m sure that isn’t a coincidence. (edit: I’m relistening to TPAB right now, and wow, this album sounds soo much different to me after spending time with the 90s West Coast albums this week. I don’t think it was difficult to hear the influence before – all it takes is for you to know hip hop a little bit, and you get it – but it really stands out now. And one of the main storylines on the project is about the importance of home, among a bunch of other things (but you can go read someone else’s thinkpiece on the album lol), and his use of that very specific 90s West Coast sound adds to that theme, almost working as its own character. This is all old news, but my potentially problematic take is that good kid, M.A.A.D. city (2012) is the superior of the two, so I don’t get around to TPAB like that.)

I always see Doggystyle in the swaps when I’m confirming my Record of the Month for Vinyl Me Please, and next time I see it, I think I might have to add it my the record collection! The cover always makes me stop and think for a second, but now that I’ve heard it, I’m ready to bite the bullet. I don’t know why it always surprises me when someone has such a good solo debut project, but WOW. What a great way for Snoop Dogg to start his solo career. He may have made some questionable music choices since then; Make America Crip Again and Bible of Love (2018) are on my listening list. But this album is a winner.

Overall Project Rating

Featured Image via Pinterest


(listen to Doggystyle on Spotify by clicking the image below)

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