Playboy: What was the hardest part?
Dogg: Just living there, basically. It was harder than I expected. Being away from everybody wasn't a big problem. Survival is key. People don't understand that you can actually lose your life going to jail. There's more violence in the jailhouse than there is on the streets.
Playboy: What were some problems?
Dogg: For instance, a black show came on TV. Good Times. People who ain't black don't want to see that shit, so they get up to turn the channel. That's disrespect, if you ask me. You could be on the phone for ten minutes and somebody would come by and say, "phone check." And that's disrespect. How are you going to check me with the phone, homey? I get off the phone when I get ready. Just any little thing. Step on your shoe. Someone messes up your bunk, any little thing.
Playboy: Wasn't it smarter not to get in fights?
Dogg: Well, it doesn't even have to be you. It could be another brother who got into it, and the whole yard riots. You're put in a situation by somebody else, something you didn't even do. But when it gets to you, you have to be ready for it.
Playboy: What if you ignored it?
Dogg: They'd do something worse. It's a respect thing in there, all the way around. You don't get respect if you don't deserve it.
Playboy: So you found a way to be respected?
Dogg: From rapping. I was rapping every motherfucking night. We put the mattress up and beat off a drum [Sets up a beat on the tabletop with hands, singing a bass line]. I talked about the police, about whatever the fuck was going on. Whatever we ate that day, I talked about that. I would ask them about some shit that happened in their hood, and I would put it down in rap form. They appreciate that shit and would tell other motherfuckers, "Nigger, this homeboy, he's tight and he'll rap for $20." Some of that shit ended up on Dre's album. It got to the point where these motherfuckers were saying, "Man, you got something there. Take advantage of that." And if these motherfuckers said something to you, it's like, you lis. These motherfuckers don't give a fuck about your ass. If they encouraged you, you had to jump on it.
Playboy: Your big break came after jail when you hooked up with Dr. Dre. How did you meet him?
Dogg: Warren G. is my homey. He is Dre's little brother. He was always trying to get me to rap and be with him in a group. But I never felt my writing was strong enough. Warren G. happened to take one of my tapes to Dre without me knowing it. Dre liked it and called me to the studio. He said, "I want to do something." He was finishing up N.W.A.'s last album, Niggaz4life. Before Dre and I got fully acquainted, he had just finished that album.
Playboy: Did Dre introduce you to Eazy-E?
Dogg: I never met him through Dre.
Playboy: You had written a song that had criticized him. How did you feel when he announced he had AIDS?
Dogg: We had problems, differences.
Playboy: What were they based on?
Dogg: Me and Dre was homeboys and Dre had a problem with him. Dre got fucked by Eazy, who was taking all the N.W.A. money. That's why Dre left.
Playboy: Ice Cube wrote a song that was critical of Eazy-E and Dre.
Dogg: Yeah, he checked all of them. Dre and Ice Cube have since made up. So when Eazy died, I don't know. I mean, that's God's plan. He'll take those away if he wants. And he'll let those stay if he wants.
Playboy: How's your relationship with Ice-T?
Dogg: I look up to him like a grandfather, so we share a lot as far as experiencing knowledge. I respect everything about him -- the way he staked the police.
Playboy: How did you respond to the controversy over his song "Cop Killer"?
Dogg: It caused so much outrage because the cops are scared that a motherfucker would actually listen to that shit and react to it. But a motherfucker doesn't react to a song. That shit just pumps motherfuckers up and they dance at concerts and shit.
Playboy: You don't think it could pump them up enough to act?
Dogg: No. A song ain't why people kill cops. People were saying fuck the police before the song came out. Go listen in the hood and you'll hear that they're saying the same thing.
Playboy: When you met Dre, what were you doing for a living?
Dogg: I wasn't making money. I wasn't even selling dope. I was waking up in the morning to try to go make a tape.
Playboy: Were you living at home?
Dogg: With my auntie. She took care of me. That shit was crazy as fuck. And Dre let me stay with him. He didn't know me. Me and Warren G. stayed with him because he was helping me out. I worked hard. It ain't like he just put me on there. I deserved that shit, because I worked hard. It sounded good, me and him together. Dre's Chronic album, which I participated on, goes to levels that people never thought such a hard rap album could go to. And I saw a lot of people anxious and anticipating my album, I mean, as if I was an R&B singer. As if I was on a level with a Michael Jackson, rather than as a rapper putting words together from a basic education level. I'm not complicated at all. I say raps that your two-year-old son can learn.
Playboy: How do you feel when the rappers criticize you for going commercial? KRS-One said that you and Dre are selling out.
Dogg: He said I was selling out? What did he say?
Playboy: "They're just doing what's selling records at the moment. They're following the same formula that the movie industry used when Rocky was successful and it put out Rocky II and Rocky III."
Dogg: I ain't even going to trip on that, because I didn't hear it myself.
Playboy: What about the point? Does street music lose its power when it becomes successful?
Dogg: You think my music is sellout music? Listen. I've put out only one album. When I'm through and put my Barry White collection of albums together, motherfuckers will respect me. Worldwide. This is just volume one. There's more to come.
Playboy: Why has it taken so long to produce a second album?
Dogg: I've been doing other things. I've been helping my homeboys. I made the movie. I'm helping Tha Dogg Pound record now. I don't even know what the fuck I'll rap about on my second album. I don't even know the title yet. That's what's so cool about it. When we go in clear-minded, we always come out with the best shit.
Playboy: Have any of your songs been censored?
Dogg: Dre and I got pressure on one song called "Mr. Officer." We had to change it to "The Day the Niggaz Took Over." It was on the Chronic album. That song was like, "Mr. Officer, Mr. Officer, I'm going to see you laying in a coffin, sir." And they said, "Fuck that. We ain't going for that." But no record label made him change it. Dre changed it himself.
Playboy: With "Deep Cover," you basically give the same message as "Cop Killer."
Dogg: It's saying "Fuck these undercover police that'll set up your ass."
Playboy: You say, "1-8-7 on an undercover," though. That means the death of an undercover officer. You just hid the message.
Dogg: The police knew what it meant. The hood knew what it meant. That's all I wrote that song for -- the police and the hood.
Playboy: And to them you were saying kill the police.
Dogg: I wasn't saying kill the police. I was saying "1-8-7 on an undercover cop," meaning this motherfucker and I were doing business, I was trusting him, and all the while he had a wire on. And my girl coming in, happens to tap him on the back and that motherfucking wire falls out. He's through. That's what I'm saying. It's a story about that happening. It's not, "Hey, he's undercover. Kill him." It's what you feel like because you trusted him.
Playboy: Would it be justified to shoot a man who did that to you?
Dogg: No one would be surprised if it happened. I don't want anybody shooting, but I can't stop it.
Playboy: What made you write "Murder Was the Case," about your own death in a drive-by?
Dogg: Everybody has to think about it, because you are going to die. I just dealt with mine on a record. When it comes in actuality, I'll deal with it then. But I just let the world know about a dream I had.
Playboy: Did writing the song or watching the film scare you?
Dogg: Nope. It affected my mama and people around me. But I didn't trip on it. I look at it like I look at a regular movie. I can't watch that motherfucker when I'm at home by myself, though. It's scary with that spooky-ass beat, like a regular scary movie. I wanted it to be like a horror movie but still have some gangsta rap shit. And it does.
Playboy: Did you worry about putting it out -- giving someone an idea?
Dogg: Nope. Nobody needs a movie to give them an idea. Somebody's getting killed right now the same way I did on that video. People get killed every ten or 20 minutes. When we die, we are just another statistic. You begin to trip on it when you visit a hospital. A baby is born. Down the street in the hood some motherfucker is killed.
Playboy: Does it scare you to think about your own death?
Dogg: Shit yes. Does it scare you? When you're dead, you don't breathe, you don't see, you don't feel, you don't love. Meanwhile, the choice is: Will your life be right, to ride on that motherfucking boat that's going in the right direction? If your life ain't right, why bother?
Playboy: Was it satisfying to have your record shoot up the charts past those of Pearl Jam and other established bands?
Dogg: But you know what? In my eyes, they're still bigger than me. Because I'm still Snoop. That shit don't move me.
Playboy: Do you agree that you glamorize the idea of being a gangster, that you made your time in jail seem cool?
Dogg: Hell no, that shit ain't cool. Nobody likes not having freedom.
Playboy: But it's part of your image, particularly after the shooting. You've been accused of exploiting it to sell records.
Dogg: People think niggers are getting record deals and doing what a record company tells them to do. Motherfuckers don't do that shit. Niggers don't just try to act hard to sell records. The real ones are the real ones. What Snoop raps is the shit that I went through. Then any motherfucker can make his own choice. I hope he avoids the bullshit. If not, he'll be another statistic until America decides to help. That's the reality and that's the message.
Playboy: The sister of Woldermariam says your records sold because you were tied to her brother's murder.
Dogg: Shit, wait till after the trial and I'll speak about that. See, I don't want brothers shooting. I want them talking.
Playboy: Will you acknowledge that rap adds to the atmosphere of violence?
Dogg: If you killed every rapper in the world right now, motherfuckers would still get killed, motherfuckers would still get raped, motherfuckers would still get robbed. The same shit is going to go on. I'm just putting it down, writing a story about it. People who don't understand that are the people who don't have it affect their lives -- they're so horrified and all. What if they see the real thing? What they say is bullshit. If they truly listen to the art, they understand it.
Playboy: But does the message get past the headlines and the image? Don't kids just see you, your success and the guns?
Dogg: The message is always going to get through. Me being able to speak is a message in itself. The little black kids are saying, "Well, damn! Snoop Dogg comes from the same neck of the woods we do, and he made it and he's able to say what he wants to say. I want to be like him." That's the dream right there. So don't blame me for the problems. You can't fault me for it. You can't blame me. You want to blame me but I'm just trying to express what is going on, and trying to keep America open to it. We know niggers are killing niggers, and penitentiaries are full of niggers and Mexicans. Why don't y'all give us some money to help us stop this problem? We want to go to college instead of going to the pen. Give us a future.