Playboy: You were a good athlete in high school. Why did you give it up?
Dogg: It wasn't making money for me and I was getting older and money was becoming important. To me, that shit -- being Michael Jordan -- was an unaccomplishable dream. I was like, OK, I'm going to do all this working out and shit, but then -- fuck it. What if the motherfucker doesn't make the team? Meantime, my mama couldn't give me what I wanted. I had all right clothes, but the people I was with had better clothes. I felt that I had to have better clothes. Motherfuckers wore Nikes and shit like that, and we wore shoes from Payless. I had to have money in my pocket, see. That was just me. I guess it was attention. So I went out and got little jobs. I was selling candy as a teenager, selling newspapers. But as I got older, I didn't want to sell that anymore. I wanted to make more money.
Playboy: How much were you making?
Dogg: I made $45, $50 a week. I worked at McDonald's for a while, making $100 a week. But I needed more.
Playboy: More for what?
Dogg: For life. Moms couldn't do for me anymore. She barely could do for herself. When you get to that certain age, you feel like you're stepping from a boy to a man. When I turned 16, I thought I was a man. I needed the money. When you don't have it, crazy thoughts go through your mind.
Playboy: Such as?
Dogg: He's got it and I don't. Why not take it from him? I'm bigger than him. You understand? I went to jail for what I started doing.
Playboy: For selling cocaine.
Dogg: Yeah. When I got arrested, I thought that was wrong, crazy shit. I didn't understand. How could I go to jail for selling some drugs?
Playboy: But you knew it was illegal.
Dogg: It didn't make sense. I didn't make the drugs, I didn't put them in the community. It was just a job I had. If they want to, they could take me to jail for avoiding taxes -- I didn't pay any. But don't take me to jail for selling. I couldn't see nothing wrong with doing what is logical to do.
Playboy: How is it logical?
Dogg: Drugs are so easy to get in the ghetto. They might not be easy to get in nice areas like Beverly Hills, but in Long Beach and Compton and South Central they're easy to get. They don't drop those drugs off in Beverly Hills. They drop them off in the ghetto. Then they tell us it's wrong to sell them. Well, we didn't bring them here. We just sell them. I was selling, like I sold newspapers. It was just a giant step from that. From $50 a week to $1000 a week.
Playboy: What were you spending your money on?
Dogg: I really wasn't spending it. I was so busy earning more and more, trying to get bigger. Then I bought a car. I got a hotel room and some clothes. You understand, it was a program I had. I was just dedicated to making money. When the surgeon general [Joycelyn Elders] said that drugs should be legalized, I saw somebody else who felt what I feel. But she got fired.
Playboy: Why do you believe in the legalization of drugs?
Dogg: Drugs bring in guns. They bring in all these black-on-black crimes.
Playboy: If drugs were legal and you wanted to make more money, what would you have done?
Dogg: That is the question. What else is there? "Well, I'm going to go to school and get me a high school diploma and try to go to college." You have to say "try to" because even with a high school diploma and a 4.0 GPA, there's no college that's automatically going to grab you and give you a scholarship. There's certain classes you have to take, certain things you have to do, certain money you must have. Then, if you listen to the counselors and social workers and everybody else talking at you, you would think that once you got out of high school and college, life would be beautiful. But it's not. That's what you're up against if you don't want people to sell drugs. What else do you have to offer? All I knew was that I needed money. As a black man, I have to respect myself and have nice things. As a man in general. If they would have put positive opportunities in front of me to make $1000 a week, I would have done it. But they didn't. They put $1000 in front of me and an illegal way to make it. And they expect me not to do it because they say it's wrong. America is going to have to give something back in a major way, to where the people can say, "Well, they care about us and they're trying to help us." Cutting back on welfare and shit like that shows they don't give a fuck about us.
Playboy: So it's not about only money?
Dogg: Yeah. It's like having nothing, no hope, nothing. Look at the way they're letting gangs and shit go on so there is black-on-black crime and murder. What does it show? It shows they don't give a fuck. I could show you a picture of my Pop Warner football team. There were 28 homies on that team. Twelve are dead. Seven are in the penitentiary. Three are smoked out. If they ain't dead or in jail or smoked out, they do the gang thing, sell dope. I can't look at that picture and say, "Well, hey, he went to college. He got a degree. Hey, that's little Johnnie Cochran." I can't speak from that shit, because I don't know nobody in that. I'm 24. To see 24 is an accomplishment. I've seen a lot of my homies burned.
Playboy: You finished high school. Were you tempted to drop out?
Dogg: Hell yeah. I was making money. By the time I got to 12th grade I was making $1000 a week.
Playboy: Then why did you remain in school?
Dogg: It was fun. I was popular as fuck in school. I was fun to be around. Motherfuckers loved me for my rap, they loved me because I made them laugh. Whenever I was in class, I fucked with the teachers, I fucked with the students. I wasn't yearbook class clown or funniest person, but the motherfuckers knew me. I rapped at lunchtime and quick as fuck the crowd got bigger. The principal tried to suspend me, telling me I started a riot at the school. I said, I'm just rapping. These motherfuckers want to hear what I'm saying. So the principal said OK, you can do it.
Playboy: Were you close to your two brothers?
Dogg: Me and my big brother were close till he turned like 16 and he fell out with mom's husband and moved out. He joined the Job Corps in Utah and became a man on his own. And I had to go through my shit on my own, without a big brother, without anybody to get on my back. When we were young, whenever I'd lose a fight, he would save the day. This one fool would whip my ass. So once he finished, my brother would come right behind him and wear his ass out.
Playboy: And how about your younger brother?
Dogg: I used to beat that nigger up. Just because I could.
Playboy: Where are they now?
Dogg: My older brother's still in Utah. He has a little family out there. But my younger brother is in high school. We're trying to put him in basketball.
Playboy: Are they both proud of you?
Dogg: Shit, I guess. A motherfucker can get some money from me now. [Laughs]
Playboy: Just after you graduated, you ended up in jail. Was it worse than you expected it to be?
Dogg: Exactly. A lot of homeboys in the penitentiary might get this issue of PLAYBOY -- it's in there, you know. I just want to let them know that I still support them.
Playboy: Did jail change you?
Dogg: It helped me go from a boy to a man, to start to realize what I wanted to do with myself. I couldn't play anymore. I had to have a plan.
Playboy: Why? Because you didn't want to end up back in jail?
Dogg: There were brothers in there who weren't ever going to get out. I didn't want to be in that situation. I was given a chance to bounce back, so I took it.