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Snoop Talks Faith, ‘Doggystyle’ 20th Anniversary

American rapper Snoop Dogg speaks during a news conference in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. Snoop Dogg will perform in Pune and Delhi later this week. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

American rapper Snoop Dogg speaks during a news conference in Mumbai, India, Thursday, Jan. 10, 2013. Snoop Dogg will perform in Pune and Delhi later this week. (AP Photo/Rafiq Maqbool)

By//Kyra Kyles

Admit it.  You were as shocked as I was when longtime rapper, actor and damn near professional comic Snoop Dogg re-emerged with his long locks in twists, rocking a knit cap and vowing he had eschewed the rap game for reggae. He was calling himself Snoop Lion, for Pete’s sake. Some, including his frequent collaborator 50 Cent, admitted they didn’t know what to make of the transformation.

Was it a fad or a true conversion for the man once known as the D-O double G?

In advance of the release of his documentary, Reincarnated, JET got all up in Snoop’s business to find out about his seemingly newfound faith. Check out the full story on page 26 of the current issue of JET [April 8, 2013] which is on newsstands right now, featuring the gorgeous Nia Long on the cover.

Until then check out a few outtakes of Snoop’s answers about his faith, new music format (album due April 23) and one special crowdsourced question (thanks, Facebook friend Jeremy Horn) about whether he has big plans for the 20th anniversary of Doggystyle. (And yes, Death Row fans, we are that old.)
You speak about being attracted to Rastafari culture all your life. When exactly did that start?

I think it was in the early ’90s when I got turned on to it by Prince Ital Joe, he was from that.  Came from it, originated from it and seeing how he got down, how he treated people, he was kindhearted but he kept it gangster. You know how you’re around people and pick up something about them that you really like? That’s what Prince Ital Joe did for me… May he rest in peace. He was one of the guys around Death Row when we were making those Chronic records. He worked with Pac too when we were doing reggae stuff.

Do you consider this a religious conversion or philosophical?

I think it’s a way of life, as opposed to anything.  Focusing on the way you live is better than trying to put a religion on it.  Religion tries to teach you how to live.  You got a grip on what you supposed to do, you know yourself what feels right or wrong…

What was your faith before, as you mention a baptism during the documentary?  How devout were you?

Baptist… Yeah, that’s still in me.  You can’t leave one for the other.  Each has things that I like.  Some have things that accompany each other.  That’s what I love about people now.  We don’t use religion as a tool anymore to keep people apart, to be separate.  When I grew up as a kid, I couldn’t have White friends at my house and I couldn’t go to they house.  Anything that wasn’t Black or Hispanic couldn’t  really get close to my house.  Kids today don’t have no race.  Kids from all walks of life are together.  And they cross breeding, it’s all about love and life.  Not trying to be separate.

It’s clear that Louis Farrakhan has influenced you as well.  Did you ever consider the Islamic faith?

Well, you know, so I’ve been associated with the Nation of Islam so long that I felt it was already me.  I’d been living the righteous way.  I’m blessed with knowledge, and blessed to have had a relationship with Farrakhan.  And that’s not nothing but the way I live.  I think there is too much emphasis on the titles of religion.

When did you learn how to be wealthy, instead of rich?

Probably after being with No Limit, Master P, who masterminded marketing and promotion, taught me how to be a sponsor and have a corporate mentality with a street edge. That’s why I know how to do this while still keeping my edge.  This is why I promote like I do.

Some fans didn’t like the music from that time period. How do you respond to that?

Well, a friend of mine said this is show business.  Early on I had to show up, put on a show and be great at performing.  I didn’t want to know the business.  I did it ‘cuz I loved it.  When I was with No Limit, if nothing else I learned how to put together the show and the business.  There’s a dynamic.   Money and numbers, marketing and promoting, you have to be involved in that. That’s why we can be here 10 and 15 years after that first hit.  When you go broke, and why you do, is because you’re at the end of your career, and you can’t do it no more.  You can’t call the shots.  That’s what I’m trying  to do…mix and match with the youngsters.  A lot of people don’t know I’ve been doing it for 20-plus years.  Because that’s not how I carry it.  I don’t act like I’m better than nobody.  I don’t look down on nobody.

Why are you so able to relate to the rap generation, whereas some other rappers are warring with the next generation?

What I learnt early in game was, when I was young, I would see rappers I like Jam Master Jay and Run DMC. Jam took me in and treated like little brother, gave me love and respect.  Kool Herc, D-Nice, gave me love when I was a youngster and did not downplay or talk bad to me.  And that’s what I try to do.  I tell them, “Y’all doing a great thing, I love what you’re doing.” And when I give the love,  they treat you like an uncle.  “How do we do this, uncle?”  I gve it to them wholehearted; I tell the truth and keep the understanding we’re all even.  We’re all eye to eye….

How are your fellow rap artists receiving the transformation? 

Youngsters don’t mind.  They feel like I’m getting out of their way.  Older cats are so supportive.  Busta Rhymes is one of biggest supporters.  He’s from Jamaica and understands transformation.  He understands where I come from and where I’m going.

How has your reggae career been received in Jamaica? Are you concerned about perceptions that you’re exploiting their culture?

I think it’s going awesome.  I do have a little bit of hate, but more love than anything.  I say what I mean and mean what I say.  I even brought them Mind Gardens, which teaches the people how to grow fruits, vegetables and sell produce.  That’s because when I was out there, I seen a lot of poverty and people not eating. This is what I experienced away from the music.  Now it’s a dream coming to life.  Mind Gardens….that was created from the music and being in Jamaica.  I even got Mavado and Popcaan [rival rappers] on a record together, crews don’t even like each other and we did “Put Your Lighters Up,” a song about unity.

What steps did you take as an artist to prepare to record with Major Lazer? What did you listen to most?

My preparation was…letting Diplo and Major Lazer do what they do.  I was prepared to let them do whatever they want to do. I wasn’t trying to say too much. When I make records, I usually give direction. But I gave them the script and let them put it together. I had a lot of trust in Major Lazer, producers, the whole team, and songwriters.

Did you listen to a lot of reggae to prep?

I didn’t listen to a lot, but I was listening and hearing certain things, what I wanted to say in certain music.  Then, I was really listening to records I made and thinking about what I’ve never been able to say, but want to say.  I want the chance to do a big concert and not have to cuss.  I want to go to the White House.

Prince once disavowed certain parts of his portfolio because of his shifts in belief, would you ever go that route?

Hell naw.  My fans will kill them if I don’t do my old shit.  You can’t fool me.  N***as would be throwing bottles at people.  I want to do it the right way, but I’m still gon’ do it.

In the documentary, there’s an old news clip of you talking about how violence came before gangster rap and it’ll be there after gangster rap. You seemed to take no responsibility in how your message might have affected the industry.  Have you changed your thinking about that?

I think we became adults. As young rappers, we took our power and aimed it in the right direction… The rap generation now is aimed at a different generation. Our forefathers fought their battles to get where they were.  We’re here not to fight, but to love their kids.  Shooting love at the kids.  Black folk have always been good at being gangsters, from black panthers to the Crips and Bloods.  We just took that energy and put it into music.  Music now is a vessel, and people around the world connect to this. Emulate and duplicate this.  Anytime America put outs gangster shit with murder and mayhem, it makes tons of money.  Only doing what we were taught.  But now, we done grown up and we’re good fathers, husbands and men.  When you get old, you get positive.  Youngsters are doing what they’re supposed to be doing and that’s be wild reckless and free.

One of my Facebook friends pointed out that your debut 1993 album, Doggystyle will hit its 20th anniversary this year. Will there be a re-release album of Doggystyle with unheard material?

Wow, I hadn’t planned on it.  I didn’t know it had been that long.  So intertwined in making it, I never looked at the success. I was so busy doing what I’m doing.  When you’re playing, you can’t look at your stats, cuz you keep trying to be that MVP.  Damn it really has been that long…I think I should do something.  If I do it, I want somebody to do it with me…Wu-Tang…somebody that came out 20 years ago.  Tribe Called Quest and do 20-year rendezvous…

If you do it, you have to tell us first, because it was me and the JET readers who jogged your memory.

Of course, baby, you’re the seed to the plant….

Well, thank you so much, Snoop.  Appreciate your time.  Is there anything else you wanted to talk about that we didn’t cover?

Well, let me tell you this. JET has always been my favorite magazine from the living room to the bathroom to the dresser.  The Beauty of the Week, whoooo!  I love JET magazine.  JET is the baddest motherf***ing magazine. I pushed over Rolling Stone to talk to y’all.  Y’all got love for me and I love you back.

TO READ MORE PICK UP THE NEW ISSUE OF JET MAGAZINE, ON SALE NOW.