Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The N Word

Ok, look...we have to talk about it.
I know it's gonna make some of you uncomfortable but it's an important factor in his life and any discussion about Snoop Dogg would be incomplete if we didn't just bite the bullet and talk about...
why are you looking at me like that?
 You think I'm talking about THAT n word!!
Well, I was thinking "Narcotics", (you know the D O G loves him some ganja) but since you bring it up, yeah, that word IS kind of important too considering 8 out of 10 Snoop songs includes it, and in the majority of those it's said an average of 20 times. I wasn't gonna go there because the word coming from me is ignorant at best and offensive at worst. While Dr. Laura may get some sick pleasure from pressing social boundaries just for fun I try to take every opportunity I get to avoid being a douche bag. So like I say, from me; not so good but from Snoop, that's a different's authentic and not because he's black. Well, yes because he's black but not JUST because he's black. Mostly because it's the language of the streets and Snoop takes on no airs. He knows who his audience is, who he wants them to be, and he speaks to them in their language, his language. The language of the streets. Color may be involved but it's just as likely to be about gang colors or the color of money or ones true colors then it is to be about the color of skin. If Snoop did beg off and censor himself to be politically correct he'd lose his realness and his authentic voice. So few sages take the time to offer wisdom to those in the streets below and what many will see as offensive language, or racial aggression or a point of contention I see as simply being the word on the street.
          Uggh, here I was all set to take about weed and how pot heads in music and Hollywood (Snoop, Seth Rogan, Woody Harrelson, the whole cast and most of the writers of the Big Bang Theory) tend to do better and be less affected by their drug of choice then say those who choose smack (Poor Kurt Cobain), cocaine ( say it with me now...Charlie Sheen!!!) or even alcohol (How you doing, Mel Gibson?) but we need to move on so I guess that will need to wait until Fall when we get to Willy Nelson month!

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Legacy of Gangsters: My Month With Snoop Dogg Begins

It feels really good to be off the sickly saccharine high of polka and into some honest funk and grime and Snoop certainly offers that with his litany of rhymes. As I do every month I first prepared my self by blasting my brain with a variety of his work to get a feel for what I was dealing with before going back and giving each release a deep and thoughtful listen. As I was doing so I felt a weird deja vu I couldn't put my finger on. I had heard Vato on the weeds sound tarck and I know Snoop is doing a Pepsi commercial but aside from that I haven't had much exposure to his work or even other rap fpr that matter. Still there was something subtle about what I was hearing that caught my attention subliminally and made me like it instinctively. Who did this guy remind me of? I was drawing a blank but thankfully Snoop Doggy Dogg provided me the answer just a few songs later with the following dedication;
"I'd like to dedicate this song to Mister Johnny Cash..a Real American Gangster"
  ..then he launched into one of the best and most inventive rap songs I've ever heard called "My Medicine" and I had my answer.
 It seems crazy and certainly not intuitive at all but when you think about it it does make perfect sense. They both consider themselves outlaws and that along with guns, women and trouble are an underlying themes in everything they do. We can even take it a bit further and look at the mythologies they both represent. Being a gangster and the lifestyle that comes with it really isn't all that far from the wild west and the gunslingers that Cash is known for immortalizing. The moral "Life is hard and sometimes ugly and surviving is a triumph" is a moral I would expect to hear from both. Also, we can take it from the height of mythological significance down to to the lowest common denominator; the common man. Neither make music for the industry, hell Cash was thrown out of the Grand Old Oprey for being to rowdy, but rather for regular people. Snoop said it.."I'm not a musician..I'm Gangster".."I write my songs for gangsters, bangers and bitches". I can't prove it but I bet if you polled all the prisions in the US Snoop and Johnny would be two of the most listened to artists even to this day. That's because for both thier music begins and ends in the streets and while Laredo is a long way from South Central the themes are the undeniably the same.
I love Johnny Cash and this connection is a good start for the month...I look forward to learning more.