For an inspiring tale of triumph over adversity, look no further than the career of Snoop Dogg. The West Coast rapper has risen above a tough youth growing up in Long Beach, CA and stints in the slammer during his late teens to not only become one of the leading lights of urban music, but a multimedia phenomenon with his own film production company, syndicated radio show and published autobiography.
Born Calvin Broadus, he became know as Snoop after his mother nicknamed him for his resemblance to the "Peanuts" cartoon character. Snoop Dogg first started rapping by recording homemade tapes with his friend Warren G., who tipped off his stepbrother, Dr. Dre of N.W.A., to the new talent. Dre invited Snoop to rap with him on the theme song to Deep Cover and Dre's classic 1992 debut album The Chronic. The impact of Snoop Dogg's talent sparked such a strong buzz that when his first album, Doggystyle, was released 1993, it debuted at number one and eventually went quadruple platinum.
But his newfound stardom didn't end Snoop's legal troubles when he was accused in 1993 of being an accomplice in a murder. Though acquitted of the charges, Snoop Dogg also went through a downturn in his career.
With his most recent release, Tha Last Meal, Snoop Dogg has now recovered both his artistic and commercial momentum. The album blends Snoop's trademark gangsta rap styles with the sounds of old-school soul and funk (among its many guest stars is funk pioneer George Clinton) in an urban music tour de force. "This is the first album that I have been in complete control of, and this is me," he explains. "People don't realize what I've been through. It's not easy to stay focused going through a lot of bullshit."
Snoop Dogg's artistic and personal maturity may well have been aided by the process of self-examination he went through while writing his life story, "The Doggfather." As he notes, "I had to go back to my childhood and the things that made me upset, and made me who I am. I also had to expose the bad things about myself that caused me to have the bad reputation when I first came out. But it's all part of life. I was willing to reveal it and share it with the public."
Closing out 2001 with his major motion picture debut in the horror movie Bones, for which he also put together the soundtrack album, Snoop Dogg is back at the top of his game. He credits his friend and fellow hip-hopper Master P for inspiring him to take charge of his life. "That's the biggest thing that Master P taught me," notes Snoop Dogg. "Now I'm taking what he taught me, putting it to use with my personal knowledge and just trying to be the best artist in the game."