Playboy: Your music is more complex than a lot of rap. Did you have any musical training?
Dogg: It's natural. I freestyle, meaning that I just rap. I might put words on paper, but I just put a beat on my rap, and go off the top of my head. It's something I've been able to do for a long time.
Playboy: Did you listen to soul singers?
Dogg: Growing up, that shit's all we heard. Al Green and Curtis Mayfield. I'm into the soul collection. That's inspiration to me. Dramatics, Teddy Pendergrass, Isley Brothers. Enchantments. That's why motherfuckers say that I sing instead of rap. That's why I got more of an R&B sound. They say my shit is gangsta shit because of the words I use. But if you listen to it, it's R&B shit. I'm not rapping, I'm conversing. It's just a conversation between me and you. I'm no reporter. That's for the man with a suit and tie. I'm just relating to my people the best way I know, bringing them what they know and what they see out on the streets. I'm bringing it to them in a musical way, through a way of partying rather than violence. Now they can party their way through their problems.
Playboy: Was it difficult to stay out of gangs in your neighborhood?
Dogg: No. You can avoid that shit. Nobody comes knocking on your door, saying, "Oh, you got to be some woo-woo." Nobody does that shit. If you associate yourself with those gang-mentality motherfuckers, you're going to become a part of it. If you go to church every Sunday, go right in the house when you get out of school, go where you got to go, you're straight.
Playboy: Do some people join gangs for protection?
Dogg: I don't know anybody who joined a gang for protection. That shit doesn't happen in my hood. You join it because you need love and family support. You need a motherfucker who can identify with what you're going through.
Playboy: You were present when the Crips and Bloods signed their truce after the riots. How involved were you?
Dogg: I supported it. I talked to some homies.
Playboy: What did it take in order to make it happen?
Dogg: Money. They had to get something in return. OK, if we stop killing, what are we going to get? What are y'all going to do for us?
Playboy: What was the answer?
Dogg: We're going to try to provide money and show these motherfuckers that it's safe to put jobs here. It's safe to build something here.
Playboy: Did the money that was promised for neighborhood improvement ever show up?
Dogg: I ain't seen too much happen so far. They all say, "Oh boo hoo, ain't nothing can be done about those motherfuckers." Something can be done. They just don't want to do it. Money, opportunity and jobs. All we ever asked for was opportunity. Just let us be equal, to do what you do. And get the money like you get. Without racism, without all the struggle, without all this negative shit.
Playboy: What does the movement away from affirmative action say to you?
Dogg: It says they don't want us to pick ourselves up.
Playboy: If you're right, the gangs supply "them" with more ammunition -- black youths shooting one another.
Dogg: Right, but it's the brainwash theory. Babies come out brainwashed, thinking that just because this man is from this side of town and wearing a separate color than what you are wearing, you have to fuck him up, because he killed the homey from way back. It's just like that. I don't know how they're going to stop that shit, but I'm trying to be a part of the plan. If anybody does care, I'll tell you what helps. Money helps. People who don't have money do crazy shit. People are spending all this money on bullshit overseas -- fuck overseas. We're over here with you all.
Playboy: Did you get in a lot of trouble when you were a child?
Dogg: Uh-huh. I did the kid thing. A lot of things I was trying to do, I was trying to be grown-up. I did a lot of good shit, too. Played the piano. Sang in the choir. Church every Tuesday. Every Sunday. Bible study.
Playboy: You've said your mother raised you. Where was your father?
Dogg: He got a Purple Heart in Vietnam and rested for about a year. Then he became a postman. My mama had moved back to California by then. He came out here but she was with her husband. So that cut him off. I didn't know he was my father. He used to come pick me up and shit. I was just five. When he put me in that long red Cadillac, I was like, "Where the fuck are we going?" He came to get me once a month. Who is this? Do you know what I'm saying?
Playboy: Didn't your mother tell you he was your father?
Dogg: I wasn't trying to hear that shit. My mom was doing everything for me.
Playboy: So you didn't want to know.
Dogg: Until I became a teenager, then I understood. But shit, every time I got whipped, my mama whipped me, so fuck him. That's how I was thinking back then. I was seeing him off and on.
Playboy: Wasn't he a singer?
Dogg: [Laughs] Oh shit. Who told you that damn lie? He wasn't a singer. He played tambourine in a band.
Playboy: What did your mother do for a living?
Dogg: She had small jobs -- you know, working in cafeterias and shit. Sometimes she was on the county, sometimes she was working. She put food on the table and clothes on our backs.
Playboy: Have you been helping your mother now that you have money?
Dogg: Uh-huh. Pretty much.
Playboy: Did your father ever send any money?
Dogg: Hell no. He looked out for me later, when he could, but I don't remember receiving much money from him that helped save the day. If he had been doing his job, I wouldn't have sold dope.
Playboy: What about your stepfather?
Dogg: I thought that he was my father most of my life -- until I got to a certain age, when I really started looking at the other man and seeing that I looked more like him. It's complicated, this ghetto shit.
Playboy: Your real name is Calvin Broadus -- but Broadus was actually your stepfather's name, not your father's. Is that correct?
Dogg: Exactly. He's the man my mama married. That was before I was born. And I always thought he was my father because I had his name. He was all right. He never got on me for anything. He was good to us. He raised us like we were his kids. He did whip me one time. I remember when he whipped me. If I did something in school, got kicked out of something, my mama usually was the one who whipped me. But this time, she didn't whip me. She said, "OK, I got something for you." Then she called him over. I knew what he was coming over for, because him and ma went in the room to talk first. I put a book in my pants so I wouldn't feel this shit. So he said, "All right, come into the room." Then he said something to me that scared me like a motherfuck. He said, "C'mere. Lay on my lap." So I lay across like right here on him, and he hit me on the back [Demonstrates]. He said, "Why does your ass feel like that?" He pulled out the book, and he was like, "Take your clothes off!" And he whipped me with my clothes off. Damn! I got caught. That was the only time he really whipped me. I was like nine or ten. I thought I was slick by putting a book in there.
Playboy: When did you find out about your real father?
Dogg: My mom and her husband fell out. It was a situation where I was getting kidnapped. He was taking me from school, and she would come and get me from him. Then he died. He died when I was in the eighth grade. That period was hard. My grandfather had died too, and me and my grandfather were close, the closest. Moms knew I was all sad. So she was just like, "Oh, your daddy's coming down here." And I'm like, "Didn't he just die?" "No, your daddy's coming down here." And I couldn't argue with my mama back then, not in the eighth grade. I would have got the hell knocked out of me. So here he comes. I had to ride with the punches. I figured out that shit when I was about 17. I had gone to Mississippi with him before that. In the ninth grade, I went out there for a summer to chill with him, to try to get in contact with him, to know who he was. We chilled the whole summer. He got me a job landscaping with him, made me some money. And I appreciated that. But then he tried to chastise me one time. I wasn't going for shit. You can't start now.
Playboy: Why was he chastising you?
Dogg: I had a gang of niggers in the house -- motherfuckers that I had met out there in Mississippi. I didn't give a fuck. I wasn't going to be in a big-ass house by myself. So I had the homeboys come through. I was young then, and we were fucking up the house, playing football in the living room and shit, just fucking up. And he said, "Don't make me have to -- -- " I'm like, "Don't make you have to what?" But he made me cry because I never had been checked by a man like that. Later on, my ma said, "You're going to have to go out there to live with him, because, honey, I can't deal with you." I'm like, "Fuck it. I ain't going." He's in Detroit now. I'm going to go out there to check it out. See, I wouldn't want my woman to go through with my son what my mama did with me. I was blessed enough to stay alive, but I was real hardheaded. There's a lot of shit she used to tell me, because a lot of my homeboys got killed and shit, and that affected her. It made her feel for their mamas.