Snoop Dogg has become one of hip hop’s most enduring voices. But before the wildly successful rapper took on his famous stage name and started topping the charts, he frequently got into trouble with the law.
Just because Snoop Dogg ran with the wrong crowd in his early life doesn’t mean he felt a sense of belonging. In fact, he admitted he was scared the whole time he was in a gang.
Snoop Dogg once described how he ended up joining a gang
On The Howard Stern Show in 2018, Snoop Dogg opened up about his history of gang life. Earlier in his career, the rapper had denied such criminal involvement. But in this interview, he was particularly candid not only about his role in a gang but how he got involved in the first place:
“I was just hanging out, infatuated, looking at the older guys and seeing what they were doing and wanting to be part of it. And they’re welcoming you in because you’re young. And as you get older, it’s like if you really want to be in a gang, you got to do something now.
Now you’ve got to prove yourself. It’s not a game no more … not a joke no more. It’s not just ‘we’re hanging out.’ Nah, we need to do something now. And now it becomes ‘are you going to be that scary guy or are you you going to be that down guy?’ If you’re a part of a gang, you really don’t want to be that scary guy.”
As a young kid, Snoop Dogg was drawn to the mystique of the older kids in his neighborhood. Still, he never truly felt like he was part of the lifestyle, especially when the violence started.
Snoop Dogg revealed he was constantly scared during his time in the gang
Snoop Dogg told host Howard Stern in the same interview that he was “always scared” while he was a part of a gang. But he believes this attitude was key in getting him out of it alive.
“I was always scared. That’s why I believe I survived because you have to either have fear or respect. And I didn’t understand respect. So I feared everything. So I was basically moving and grooving, trying to figure out what not to do.
A lot of times, I got shot at. A lot of times, I had a gun in my possession and could have shot back. But I was too scared to shoot back because I was so concerned with my life. It’s either fight or flight. And most of the time when you’re out there, it’s flight.”
Even while he was part of a gang, Snoop Dogg was hesitant to truly engage. And as fans know, he found his passion for music led him to become hip-hop royalty.
Snoop Dogg found salvation in hip-hop and became an icon
Soon after getting out of jail, Snoop Dogg began recording mixtapes featuring his signature hip-hop style. And it didn’t take long for already-established rapper and producer Dr. Dre to discover the raw talent Snoop Dogg had.
Dr. Dre included the young rapper on his classic 1992 album The Chronic and, the very next year, produced Snoop Dogg’s iconic debut, Doggystyle. Over the next 30 years, Snoop Dogg has continued to build on that initial success.
In 2022, he released his 19th studio album, BODR — short for “back on Death Row [Records]” — and is already working on a new collaboration with Dr. Dre, a companion piece to Doggystyle titled Missionary. And he joined Dr. Dre, Eminem, and others at the 2022 Super Bowl halftime show.
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