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You Know His Motherf***in’ Name: “Doggystyle” Turns 20

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The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AllHipHop.com.

In his recent review of Doggystyle, Kendrick Lamar said, “I actually listened to it when I was 6.  Believe me, when you’re from Compton, Long Beach, Watts, South Central, Inglewood…that’s all they were playing around you as a kid.  I couldn’t escape it.”

Being close to Kendrick in age, I also recall Doggystyle’s unavoidability as a little kid.  But I was in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and that is about as different from Compton, California, as two cities can possibly get.  Those differences didn’t matter though.  Snoop Dogg became one of my favorite recording artists when Doggystyle dropped.  I’m confident I probably speak for others too when I say that and not just in America, but all over the world.Snoop Dogg - Doggystyle - CD

It is because of that achievement, a perfect combination of skill and style, this album deserves to be recognized on its 20th anniversary.  Doggystyle helped take Hip-Hop to places it had never been before; the culture hasn’t looked back since.  And the project’s influence only continues to expand with time.

I didn’t get my own copy of the album until years after it first came out.  However, between an older cousin, passing cars, and MTV, it was not difficult to hear or see Snoop at the height of his debut’s popularity.  One of my earliest memories of Hip-Hop is seeing the “Who Am I (What’s My Name)?” music video.  I remember watching Snoop on top of the V.I.P. record store rapping above the crowd and thinking that was the coolest thing I’d ever seen.  Honestly, that song and video is one of the reasons that I wanted become a part of Hip-Hop in some way.

My favorite thing about Snoop Dogg and one of the reasons Doggystyle succeeded is that he was so laid back.  The gangsta content in the music was still there, but he wasn’t angry like many of his hardcore Hip-Hop contemporaries.  There was just a confidence in Snoop’s voice that didn’t require him to yell.  But because he wasn’t so aggressive, Mr. Broadus’ raps were more appealing than others’.  Who wouldn’t want to be at the fun house party depicted in “Gin and Juice”?  Even if there was some questionable behavior taking place, it was certainly more inviting than the party that N.W.A becomes wanted for a homicide at in “Gangsta Gangsta.”

As far as the flow on Doggystyle, Snoop is in a class by himself.  There are many examples of where his delivery is so fluid that it sounds like an instrument.  Additionally, the way he changes and recites words take his lyrics to another place which is simply amazing.  For instance, in “Tha Shiznit,” one of my favorite rhymes is, “Cause Snoop Dogg is Trump tight like a virgin, the surgeon / is Dr. Drizzay, so lizzay, and plizzay.”  There’s a lot of wordplay there already, but adding “izzay” throws in even one more element.

“Gz and Hustlas” is another standout to me because of the fact it was a freestyle.  Then, on the flip side of that approach, there’s the concept song, “Murder Was the Case.”  It’s a brilliant song where Snoop makes a deal with the Devil.  Each song is equally captivating, even if for totally different reasons.  And last but not least, there’s the foul but funky record, “Ain’t No Fun (If the Homies Can’t Have None).”  It’s my guilty pleasure.  But for what it’s worth, I don’t think I’m alone.  Not only did the title make it into the lyrics of another Snoop Dogg song, “Don’t Tell,” and its accompanying X-rated video clip, Mariah Carey, Da Brat, and Missy Elliot remade “Ain’t No Fun” from a female perspective for the remix to “Heartbreaker.”

Production-wise, I think the whole album is incredible.  The G-Funk sound that Dr. Dre first started developing on Efil4zaggin and evolved on The Chronic reached perfection with Doggystyle.  The melody that Dre brought to the music gave it a component that had been unheard of in Hip-Hop prior to his arrival.  The result was street music with pop appeal.  In my opinion, the epitome of this is “Doggy Dogg World” where The Dramatics make a guest appearance.  In the words of Taa-Dow, “We got something old and something new for y’all tonight.”

While I’ve heard friends of mine criticize Doggystyle for being just a continuation of The Chronic and/or that the interludes drag the album down, I disagree.  Parallels can certainly be drawn between the two albums, but I think that Doggystyle expands on The Chronic’s winning formula.  It builds on the foundation that Dre’s album laid- from, among other things, the production to the features to the album artwork.  Then in terms of the interludes and even the “Lodi Dodi” cover, it’s Snoop paying homage to the influences that he allowed to shape him into the artist he was at that time.  From Slick Rick to The Mack, Snoop is clearly a student of it all and it is in part because of this knowledge he acquired that he was (and still is) able to be such a credible voice in popular culture.

When I was in elementary school, before I knew Snoop was going on trial for murder or even understood what a multiplatinum album meant, Doggystyle was one of my favorite things to listen to.  Twenty years later, I know those things and then some.  It’s STILL one of my favorite things to listen to.  In the end, as a rap music fan, the music is what matters most and Doggystyle remains some of the best music that I have ever heard.

Respect due.

What do you think about Doggystyle?  Share your thoughts in the comments section!

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