Snoop Dogg's smokescreen

Star reporter Ashante Infantry flies to L.A. to spend seven minutes with rapper.
She learns women are wenches, pot and porn are good and Dogg's no role model

November 15, 2004
Toronto Star
By Ashante Infantry

Los Angeles - Snoop Dogg reminds me of that Chris Rock joke about former Washington, D.C., mayor Marion Barry.

You know — his riff about a parent counselling your teen in the aftermath of Barry being caught using drugs by the FBI in 1990.

"Don't smoke crack, or else you won't be nuttin,'" lectures Rock, the Concerned Dad.

To which the Smart-Aleck Kid replies: "Well, I could be mayor."

Indeed.

Despite being convicted and serving six months in jail, Barry was re-elected mayor. After a political hiatus he was returned to D.C. city council earlier this month with a 95 per cent majority.

Now, the reasons for Barry's unyielding support by his city's poor black majority are complex, and certainly the behaviour of elected officials bears greater scrutiny than that of rappers, but when it comes to hip-hop fans and entertainment industry gatekeepers, Dogg, as his minions call him, can do no wrong.

Since his 1993 debut, the Long Beach, Calif., native with the nonchalant flow — a protégé of uber-producer Dr. Dre — has sold millions of records, starred in movies such as Starsky & Hutch and Training Day, hosted Saturday Night Live, hawked product for Nokia and America Online, had his own variety show on MTV and infiltrated pop culture with his Izzle slang — all without compromising his genial gangster/pimp persona.

The 33-year-old father of three was once a member of the Crips gang and served time on drug charges. He's also a known marijuana fiend and producer of adult movies.

His current bio celebrates him as "Hollywood's newest leading man" while trumpeting his "street credentials and criminal infamy."

Recently, the Star was summoned to California for an "exclusive Canadian interview" with Dogg about his new album R&G: Rhythm And Gangsta, which drops in stores tomorrow.

The setting was the defunct Ambassador Hotel where Dogg was filming a movie with Dylan McDermott.

Record company flacks and journalists gathered outside the hotel's rear gate in an unseasonably cool air of mystery. Even the people whose job it is to promote the rapper didn't seem to know much. At the appointed time, he was either on his way, or had just arrived.

And the album? The purpose of this interview. It was supposed to be played for us beforehand.

Sorry, no can do.

Why?

Um, pirating issues.

Great.

An hour later, a member of the artist's beefy security team confabs with a member of his management team. Heads shake. Shoulders shrug. I'm told to go for lunch.

Three hours later, two Japanese journalists and I wind our way through the dilapidated hotel to a secondary waiting area, just outside Dogg's dressing room, which emits bursts of laughter, yelling and clouds of smoke.

Eventually, I'm ushered in.

Milling around were about half-a-dozen people — bodyguards, publicists, hangers on. Dogg was the tallest. Skinniest too.

He dropped next to me on the sofa and began rolling what looked like and smelled like a joint. He looked haggard, but was pleasant and attentive. Well, as attentive as one could be while smoking a spliff and watching a video.

At least he didn't blow smoke in my face.

Before our 20-minute interview was cut to seven minutes because he was "needed on the set" I managed to ascertain that he finds making movies less stressful than making records and that even though he reportedly separated from his wife earlier this year he sees his children every day.

We also had the following exchanges:

Is there anything unexpected on the new record?

"I got a song called `Ups & Downs.' I can always rap about bitches and money and cars, you know, and weed and all that shit, but when I go deeper than that and tell you what I'm feeling and what I'm going through — it's special, and that's what that record deals with."

How come you didn't work with Dr. Dre this time?

"You gotta ask him."

Really?

"Every time I rap, I'd like to have a Dr. Dre beat."

Are saying that you asked for one and you didn't get it?

"No, I ain't saying that. I'm just saying, you know, he doing his thing right now, so ... he's dealing with his Aftermath camp, working with his artists. But I sure would love to get some of that production."

What happened to your show Doggy Fizzle Televizzle?

"MTV didn't want to give me no money. They wanted to give Ozzy Osbourne all that money and then wanted to give me s--t, and I thought my show was better than his."

Have you had other offers?

"Yeah. A lot of folks want me on TV. Comedy Central, they're looking for something to fill in for Dave Chappelle when he go off. And Spike TV is letting me do a thing where I go to youth facilities and talk to young kids about why they in there and look at their families and see if they could've been stopped from going there, like, if there's a chain that should've been broken. I want to see the ones that's locked up and give them that love, 'cause when they locked up nobody give a f--k about them."

Do you consider yourself a role model?

"I don't know if you could say that. I'm just a real person who do real things. It's too hard to be a role model. So much is expected of you. The minute you do something wrong your image is tarnished; but if you just keep it real, you can do a lot of s--t wrong. Like me, personally, I can do whatever ... I coach football, I make adult movies, I do this, I do that, but it doesn't harm nothing to do with me, because of the person I am."

It's not a contradiction?

"Right. But if I was to say `I'm a role model' and `Don't do drugs' and `Don't do this' and motherf------s see me rolling up some weed, then I'd look real hypocritical."

Did you really stop smoking weed?

"I quit for like a 120 days."

P.S.: Finally got Rhythm & Gangstas a few days ago. Basically it's the same ol' Dogg — he's the boss, he's got the best rhymes, the most women, yada, yada, yada — except he's added "wench" to bitches and hos as his stock references for women.

Typical is this line from the hot lead single and cleverest song on the disc, "Drop It Like It's Hot": I've got the Rolley (Rolex) on my arm and I'm pouring Chandon (champagne)/ And I roll the best weed `cause I got it going on.

The record also contains a couple of the most misogynistic rap songs I've heard of late.

"Can U Control Yo Hoe" contains the lines: You've got to put that bitch in her place/Even if it's slapping her in her face ... This is what you force me to do/ I really didn't really want to put hands on you.

This Dogg is no harmless pup.