Snoop Dogg’s ascendance to fame transpired in the era of gangsta rap, and its brazen embrace of a life enmeshed in drugs, violence, and death. A willing proponent of the lifestyle, Snoop Dogg had his own successful gangsta persona that paid off for him in dividends, contributing to his commercially successful music career.
However, street life began to catch up with Snoop, and in 1996, he faced murder charges for his involvement in the shooting of a gang member in 1993, as recounted by The Los Angeles Times. It was this experience that changed Snoop’s outlook on life, as he recently told Fatman Scoop on Instagram Live. In the interview, the rap icon revealed what happened after the trial and the resulting acquittal, which forced him to reevaluate his direction in music.
“On my second album, ‘Tha Doggfather,’ when I beat my murder case, I redirected my pen to write life because I felt like I had wrote death all up until that point,” he said.
“When I started writing ‘Tha Doggfather,’ I lost a lot of fans, I lost a lot of homies, because they wanted me to keep it gangsta after beating the murder case. They wanted me to glamorize and glorify, but I was like, somebody’s life was lost. My life was changed. This is a real situation,” he added. “I have actual remorse. I feel bad.”
Prior to his murder charges, Snoop recalled writing a song that ended up being eerily close to his real life.
“One day, me and my cousin Daz [Dillinger] were going to the studio, and I had a song in my head called ‘Dave,’” Snoop said in the clip. “D-A-V-E, Death After Visualizing Eternity. So, I wanted to write a song about someone that died and came back. At the time, I was gang-banging and all kind of s–t, so my pen made me write ‘Murder Was the Case,’ which was the story of a gang-banger that got shot and on his death bed made a deal to get his life back, but he crossed God, and he ended up losing at the end.”
When asked if he found the coincidences unnerving, Snoop ascribed it to the “pen being mightier than the sword,” and an endless cycle of living the life that he was writing.
“What’s crazy, Scoop, is that around that time, me, Tupac, Biggie, [Ice] Cube — all of the rappers that was rapping around that time, we was writing what we was living,” Snoop told the legendary DJ. “Some of us was writing life, and some of us was writing death, but that’s what we was living.”
After leaving Suge Knight’s Death Row Records, and signing with Master P’s No Limit Records in 1998, Snoop expanded his repertoire, shedding his previous persona and assuming a “pimp” image with more diverse musical influences. Snoop has since taken on a number of genres, from pop, groovy disco funk, and reggae. Some of his biggest hits would include collaborations with hit-maker Pharrell, Justin Timberlake and Katy Perry.
Snoop isn’t the only rapper to reconsider their lyrical content after experiencing real-life events. In 2016 Meek Mill vowed to stop writing songs with violet lyrics following the explosion of violence and protests that occurred in the wake of the deaths of several Black individuals at the hands of police.
Mill wrote on his Instagram, “Don’t question my raps because it’s a life we lived and suffered from, I have a right to express my myself!” Meek is adamant that he will not rap about extreme violence once “DC4” drops but says he will remain as committed as ever “to let my people know in these terrible environments to adapt and survive at any cost because US BLACK PEOPLE ARE STILL AT WAR WITH OURSELVES AND THE SYSTEM IN REAL LIFE!” according to Complex.
Last September, rapper NLE Choppa also announced that he wouldn’t perform songs with violent themes anymore, preferring instead to “spread positivity and wake people up.”
“Ion Rap Bout Violence Nomo. If You Hear It From Me It’s A Old Song I Wanna Spread Positivity And Wake People Up,” he tweeted. “I’ll Still Drop Them For Y’all Tho But Just Know I’m On To Better I’m Tryna grow I Got More To Talk about Now.”
He added, “Who can’t switch it up ? I can rap about more than murder. I’m speaking real from here on out I’m tryna help people through life imma tell you how to. Positive vibes only.”