Snoop Dogg Howls Again

The singles that made Snoop Doggy Dogg and gangsta rap household terms confirm his assertion. The hit single "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang" is a celebration of the unity of Blood-dominated Compton and Crip-dominated Long Beach. On the label's second hit, "Dre Day," Snoop showed that unity to be a force greater than that of any individual. His astonishing verbal performance on his first solo single, "What's My Name," is essentially an affirmation of "Dre Day." Snoop's release this past Christmas of a cover of James Brown's "Santa Claus, Go Straight to the Ghetto" was less an exercise in irony and more a logical extension of his music's continuing calls for peace and justice.

Tha Doggfather maintains that vision, and the deceptively simple cut "2001" pinpoints it with this line: "All I wanna do is make the whole crowd bounce, y'all." It is a metaphor for Snoop's loyalty to Death Row's history, his labelmates, the West Coast rap aesthetic, and gangsta rap itself.

On another cut, "Doggyland," Snoop talks about a world where "niggas don't kill one another ... because a brother is a brother." His is a world without HIV, a place where women generally and mothers in particular are "righteous," where neglect has been replaced with compassion, and where family values replace sexist intolerance.

Recent talk of Snoop producing records for Beck and for Fort Lauderdale's gothic horror show Marilyn Manson is interesting on at least two levels. First, Long Beach's most outspoken patriot seems to be reaching out to the alternative -- largely white -- hip-hop audience that follows Beck, while at the same time embracing the alternative rockers and metalheads drawn to Manson. Even more provocative is the suggestion of a similarity between these artists. All exude the air of working-class loners who, through music, have found a path to community. Together their audiences represent a net wide enough to pull in all of the socially disenfranchised.

That is definitely Snoop's goal. Despite the misogyny, the homophobia, and the violence woven into the fabric of gangsta, he seeks to portray the world accurately. The picture may be ugly, but it is within those ugly pictures that most of us live our lives, too often terribly alone and helpless. Snoop's music is about a sense of power and unity, and a world where no one need feel threatened any more. That's why Snoop Doggy Dogg won't turn his back on G-funk, at least not until there's a better way to make the whole crowd bounce.

Snoop Doggy Dogg performs Sunday, February 2, at the Theater, 3339 N Federal Hwy, Fort Lauderdale, 954-565-1117. Showtime is 8:00 p.m. Tickets are $26.

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