Spotlight: Snoop Doggy Dogg - 'Doggystyle'

20 years of the D-O-double-G…
Snoop Doggy Dogg - 'Doggystyle'

Although officially credited as Snoop Dogg’s debut album, November 1993’s ‘Doggystyle’ was by no means the first time Calvin Broadus Jr’s voice was heard by the masses. His many appearances on Dr. Dre’s ‘The Chronic’, released 11 months ahead of this collection, in December 1992, could be considered the artist’s true introduction to the mainstream.

Snoop appeared on over half of the tracks making up ‘The Chronic’, including iconic West Coast anthems such as ‘Bitches Ain’t Shit’ (charming) and ‘Nuthin’ But A ‘G’ Thang’. These spots earned Broadus an early fanbase, which would later push ‘Doggystyle’ straight to number one on the US Billboard chart. The early promise was delivered on, and with his very first solo set Snoop set himself an impressive precedent for future recordings.

Produced in its entirety by Dr. Dre, ‘Doggystyle’ is a continuation of the now infamous G-Funk production popularised by ‘The Chronic’ – a sound characterised by wailing, whiny synths; hypnotically deep basslines; and overlays of unexpected live instrumentation. The result was music that could only have come from one place: tha LBC.

‘Doggystyle’ is a record often brought into discussions around misogyny and sexism within hip-hop – unsurprisingly so, with Snoop constantly reminding us that he “don’t love these hoes” and that he “treat a bitch like 7 Up”. So it’s somewhat ironic that the first verse on the album, on ‘G Funk Intro’, is given to Death Row’s own The Lady Of Rage, who is encouraged by Snoop to “please drop some gangsta shit”. She duly does, with ease.

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Snoop Dogg, ‘Gin & Juice’, from ‘Doggystyle’

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The anthem ‘Gin & Juice’ follows, Snoop allowing his attitude do the talking by summing himself up (repeatedly) across the track: “laidback.” Although not lyrically advanced, ‘Doggystyle’ paints a rose-tinted picture of Snoop’s life as a gangsta and has moments of pure innovation – from his engrossing storytelling in ‘Murder Was The Case’ (recorded in the summer of ’93, when Snoop actually was accused of murder) to the inclusion of a cover of another rap song, rarely ever seen in the hip-hop world.

At track seven, we’re treated to a slightly reworked version of seminal track ‘La Di Da Di’, first recorded in 1985 by British-born rapper Slick Rick (then known as MC Ricky D) and his original beat-boxer companion, Doug E Fresh. This down-tempo, blunted-out rework shows what a difference eight years makes: Rick’s family friendly “girls” turn into “bitches”; his “Kangol” hat becomes the Dogg’s “endo” stash; and Rick taking his “love” away from the fictional Sally translates into Snoop’s stealing of dope from a meth addict.

Always playing with the flow of his words, Snoop’s every syllable rolls out clearly and easily, his vocal elasticity comparable to taffy – stretching and slowing in tracks such as ‘Tha Shiznit’, where he sounds so relaxed that he barely spits a sentence per bar. Yet, simultaneously, Snoop matches every cadence and subtle undertone in Dre’s production. He surprises the listener too, picking back up at various intervals most unexpectedly – like a dog when it sees another approaching. He’s not short of a warning to competitors – or even other, more aggressive rappers featured on the record – that he could chew them up if he wanted. He just doesn’t need to.

It’s the best attitude to have on a record peppered with guest verses, from the likes of Nate Dogg, Warren G, RBX, Dat N*gga Daz and Kurupt. Snoop knows that no matter how many residents of the Dogg Pound bark, how loudly they howl, they can’t drown out the D-O-double-G.

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Snoop Dogg, ‘Who Am I (What’s My Name)’, from ‘Doggystyle’

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Words: Hayley Louisa Brown

Find further Spotlight features – looking back at classic LPs – here

On a rap tangent? Read our piece on seven of the best debut rap tracks of 1993

Listen to 'Doggystyle' in full via Deezer, below...

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