via The Daily Beast
Nearly a quarter century after the heyday of West Coast hip-hop, several of the movement’s key players remain fixtures in the entertainment industry. Ice-T has ironically been a cast member on Law and Order: SVU since 2000; Dr. Dre is worth nearly a billion dollars thanks to Beats By Dre; and mean-mugging Ice Cube has appeared in more big-screen comedies than most of us are able to keep up with. They’ve all gone on to achieve incredible extra-musical success, but no one has evolved into such an omnipresent cultural icon as Snoop Dogg.
While it’s easy to mock images of Dre shaking hands with Apple executives or Cube comically overacting in a Coors Light commercial, in 2015 Snoop’s cool is unimpeachable, and the beloved former gangbanger from the L.B.C. is all but beyond reproach in the court of public opinion. Wherever he is, that is the place to be. If you’re packing a little green, all the better.
On Friday that place was the Austin Convention Center, where the hip-hop legend took the stage in a navy bowtie and gray Ralph Lauren sweater vest as SXSW Music’s 2015 keynote speaker, following in the footsteps of luminaries like Lady Gaga, Bruce Springsteen, Quincy Jones, and Lou Reed. Snoop Dogg, however, was the first hip-hop artist to be honored by the nation’s preeminent music conference.
Instead of delivering a direct address about the state of the industry, Snoop’s keynote took the form of a largely promotional conversation between the icon and his longtime manager Ted Chung. They touched briefly on Snoop’s forthcoming album Bush, for which he re-teamed with Pharrell after a hiatus (“the mothership has reconnected”), but the majority of the discussion centered on his humble beginnings, how he’s continued to evolve, and his many business endeavors and efforts to provide opportunities for the less fortunate.
“Then when Reaganomics kicked in, certain things were taken away, after-school programs and things of that nature. Guns and drugs were shipped into the neighborhood.”
The Doggfather’s latest venture, it was announced for the first time, will be an HBO show he is developing with Menace II Society director Allen Hughes and Boondocks writer Rodney Barnes about life on the West Coast during the ‘80s, when gang violence first began to dominate the region’s inner cities, particularly in Snoop’s home of East L.A.
“Early in the ‘70s and toward the latter part of the ‘70s everything was beautiful because we had ways to have fun and communicate, and those who were underprivileged, the low economic side of life, the government would provide for us, which helped us get by,” Snoop said. “It was a society and we all needed it and we all had it and we all helped each other. Then when Reaganomics kicked in, certain things were taken away, after-school programs and things of that nature. Guns and drugs were shipped into the neighborhood. So it was a shift of having fun and playing football to selling drugs and shooting at each other. To me it was a system that was designed, because when the Reaganomics era began, that’s when this began.”
Snoop, or as he was called in the ‘80s, “Snoop Rock Ski,” was able to emerge, but countless others were not, and the show figures to explore the stories of those who weren’t so fortunate to go on to sell 30 million albums worldwide. Neither Snoop nor Chung, who will executive produce, elaborated on the project, but Deadline reports that the drama will revolve around a single family whose life was turned upside down after Reagan took office.
The 43-year-old mogul’s effort to give a voice to the less fortunate and bring opportunity to those in the inner city doesn’t end there. An avid film buff, he created Trap Flix, a website that gives a platform to urban filmmakers with limited resources, and the Snoop Youth Football League is entering its eleventh season. In the past three years, 58 players from the league received Division I scholarships, including his own son Cordell Broadus, who in February committed to play wide receiver at UCLA. “One of the happiest day of my life was seeing my son pick a school and knowing that he’s going to college,” said Snoop.