In a previous instalment of the I Doff my Cap series, I discussed the remarkable collaboration between Just Eat and Snoop Dogg, and just how innovative and memorable the brand’s latest campaign is.
In this piece, I doff my cap to the American rapper himself. Yes, none other than Calvin Cordozar Broadus Junior, better known to you and I as Snoop Dogg.
Regardless of our age, we are all familiar with the ‘D O double G’. But depending on which generation you’re from, you may know him for different reasons, whether that is for his role as a famous rapper, an actor or a TV advert character. This is just one of the reasons I doff my cap to Snoop.
From Snoop Doggy Dogg to Snoop Dogg and then Snoop Lion, the California-born hip-hop artist has taken on a fair few personas and, consequently, has had quite the career.
Living in a gangsta’s paradise
Snoop Dogg began rapping at the age of 14 but his career really took off six years later in 1992, after a mixtape demo made it into the hands of N.W.A. producer and rapper, Dr. Dre, who then featured Snoop prominently throughout his debut solo album, The Chronic. The album went on to become one of the genre’s greatest and set Snoop Dogg up perfectly for his own successful musical career.
This began with the release of Doggystyle, Snoop’s own debut album. But where there is success, controversy can often follow.
Snoop Dogg’s early days in music were clouded with issues rooted in his Long Beach lifestyle, which in the 80s and early 90s, revolved heavily around drugs, violence and crime. While recording his first album, Snoop found himself caught up in a murder trial and his gang affiliations resulted in several years of trouble, including multiple incarcerations.
This ‘gangsta’ persona he had adopted characterised Snoop’s entire brand throughout the Nineties. As I have mentioned previously, the brand generated around many celebrities unavoidably mirrors the not-so private life they lead. Often, they don’t realise it but it can, in part, determine their level of success.
Like rockstars, rappers project an image that is often informed by their surroundings, upbringing and circumstances. For many of the hip-hop’s greats, their struggles are what gave them their motivation and their music the authenticity listeners have come to respect. Therefore, the image and persona, no matter how controversial, add more value to their brand than they take away.
Snoop Dogg was no different. He joined a cohort of rappers that included the likes of Tupac and Biggie Smalls, who lived up to their lyrics. Leading, and rapping, about a glamorised life of drugs, misogyny and crime, may have been controversial but it saw Snoop’s music career go stratospheric. He has since sold over 35 million albums worldwide and stayed consistently at the top of the charts throughout his prime.
For Snoop Dogg, it really was nuthin’ but a G thang.
The reinvention of Snoop
After one too many run-ins with the law, though, and experiencing the assassinations of friends and a handful of near-death experiences himself, Snoop Dogg decided to give up his ‘gangsta’ lifestyle to avoid a life inside – or potentially something much worse.
Don’t get me wrong, teaching an old Dogg new tricks is tough, and he didn’t transform into a choirboy overnight. He reportedly quit smoking cannabis for six months before reacquainting himself with it and campaigning for its legalisation, and enjoying a brief stint referring to himself as a ‘pimp’.
Snoop’s success continued unabated, though, and didn’t stop at music. Since the early Noughties, he has reinvented himself numerous times and in ways we just wouldn’t expect. Which is yet another reason I doff my cap.
Fast forward a few years and Snoop Dogg was a regular on our tv screens. Venturing across LA to Hollywood, he has starred in a number of roles, including Huggy Bear in Starsky & Hutch, as well as voicing characters in animated films, such as Hotel Transylvania and Turbo.
Adding ‘successful actor’ to his resumé, Snoop has also made several cameo appearances, including in my favourite film, Old School. In most of these cameos, Snoop parodies himself and his former lifestyle, revisiting the ‘gangsta’ persona that so many of us know and (controversially) love.
In 2012, in a further transformation, Snoop Dogg completely rebranded to Snoop Lion to better reflect his embrace at the time of peace, love and Rastafarianism. Although the rest of the world didn’t quite get on board with it, the new look stuck for a while and resulted in yet another successful album to add to his extensive back catalogue.
Going against the grain
Snoop continues to go against the grain in all areas of his professional career. He is an inductee of the WWE Hall of Fame and spent some time in the porn industry, mixing erotica with hip-hop to create music videos and sow the seeds of a dubious new micro-trend for rapper-come-pornstars.
But this is something I truly admire about Snoop Dogg - his ability to continually reposition himself. Rather than take himself too seriously, he is always ready to explore other avenues, whether it’s for money or not, and doing so without denying any of his previous, rather legendary, personas.
Celebrities are brands in their own right, with their own morals, values and personalities – all of which combine to create the brands attached to their names. But Snoop Dogg has spent many years doing things most celebrities would never consider, cowed by the thought of going against the essence of their brand and losing fans, work or money.
But, in the case of Snoop, it has paid off handsomely. I can’t think of another public figure who has been able to do this to quite the same extent. And now he is on our screens again, starring in Just Eat’s latest campaign, promoting its online food delivery service.
On paper, Snoop Dogg has done everything he probably shouldn’t have and everything that should have gone horribly wrong for his career. But, somehow, he’s got it right and has taken three or four generations along with him for the ride.
It’s genius. Crazy, but complete genius.
Our sister company, Influencer Matchmaker, spends its time identifying and securing brands the talent with the right profile to partner with for honest and authentic collaborations. But, in Snoop’s case, he goes completely against the grain. In the normal run of things, you’d think brands wouldn’t want to go near him.
But, honest and authentic in a completely different way to most, Snoop Dogg does exactly what he wants and keeps the entire collaboration process simple.
Simplicity is something I’ve mentioned a few times in this series and that’s because it really is key. Often it pays to keep things uncomplicated and straight to the point and Snoop does exactly that, time and time again.
And for that, I doff my cap to Snoop Dogg.
For the continuous reinvention of his own personal brand. To saying yes when most would say no. And for having the ability to ‘snoopify’ everything he does. He is totally unique and I can’t wait to see where the rest of his career takes him or, rather, where he takes it.