The saying goes that every dog has its day, but the legendary Snoop Dogg seems to have had his for over quarter of a century. Since the early 90s, the Californian native has held a prominent place in the world of hip hop, laying some of the foundational building blocks for West Coast G-funk rap, and his suave stoner aesthetic and dabbles in film and TV have led him to become one of the most iconic identities in pop culture.
With a whopping 18 studio albums, 17 compilation albums (including his latest drop Snoop Dogg Presents Algorithm) and 25 mixtapes, Snoop has quite the decorated catalogue. He’s experimented with everything from reggae to gospel and dipped in and out of enough Doggy monikers to last several careers. From the beginning to now, we unpack the mammoth discography of the incredible Snoop Dogg.
Snoop Doggy Dogg, Death Row Records and Gangsta Rap
Kicking it back to 1992, a 20-year-old Snoop (going by the name Snoop Doggy Dogg) began working with Dr. Dre on the theme song for the film Deep Cover, before joining the rapper for his iconic debut album The Chronic. Earning a sign to the infamous Death Row Records, Snoop quickly became immersed in the West Coast gangsta rap movement that was rumbling at the time and his debut album Doggystyle dropped to an anticipating audience in 1993. Praised as one of the most important hip hop albums ever released, Doggystyle introduced the world to not only a rapper but a fully fledged artist. Despite the extreme lyrics and themes that surrounded gangsta rap, Snoop spoke softer than other rappers at the time and with the help of Dr. Dre’s G-funk pioneering, he helped to inspire a new generation while still finding a way to bring realism to his music.
By the time 1996 rolled around, there were a few significant changes that happened in Snoop’s life that made him reconsider his “gansta” lifestyle. First, he was accused of murdering a member of a rival gang (and later acquitted) and second, his fellow Death Row collaborator and friend Tupac Shakur was tragically shot and killed. Snoop’s sophomore album Tha Doggfather was released just two months after Tupac’s death, and it was becoming very clear that Death Row was crumbling. With Dr. Dre leaving the label earlier in the year, Tha Doggfather didn’t match up to the heights the two had reached with Doggystyle and Snoop began looking for ways to expand his artistry. The rapper refused to produce anything but a F**k Death Row album until his contract ended and in 1998 he signed to Master P’s No Limit Records, closing the door on Death Row and his gangsta rap world for good.
Snoop Dogg the Pimp and His Foray into Pop
With a new label and a new name, Snoop was determined to keep the fire going and he brought more heat than he ever had. Settling into his role as one of the leaders of West Coast rap, he produced a trio of albums under No Limit that only proved why he was becoming such a force. 1998’s Da Game Is to Be Sold, Not to Be Told, 1999’s No Limit Top Dogg and 2000’s Tha Last Meal all showcased a more refined and polished Snoop; someone who had learned all the best tactics from Dr. Dre but still found a way to weave in his own intricacies.
It wasn’t until 2002’s Paid tha Cost to Be da Bo$$ (bit of a mouthful) that Snoop started stepping into the world of pop. Gathering Pharrell Williams, Jay-Z, Ludacris and Charlie Wilson, to just name a few, the album played with more synthetic sounds and catchier hooks to really elevate Snoop to a more mainstream audience. His image had changed to reflect more of a pimp lifestyle rather than a “gangsta” and his humour and skits made him a favourite in the rap scene.
But 2004 was where things really kicked off for Snoop. His seventh album R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece was released on his own label Doggystyle under Pharrell Williams’ Star Trak Entertainment. And the linkup between him and Williams seemed to be a goldmine. With Williams’ pop hooks and the funk both he and Snoop were so familiar with, R&G became one of the rapper’s most successful and commercial projects. Spawning two of the most popular tracks of his career, ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ and ‘Signs’ with Justin Timberlake, the album marked a significant turning point for Snoop and helped propel him headfirst into the limelight.
Snoop Dogg Keeps Snoop Doggin’
After the success of R&G, Snoop continued to test the limits of what he knew he could do. His 2006 album Tha Blue Carpet gave a nod to his earlier “gangsta” days (the title being a reference to his affiliation with the Crips gang) while still remaining mainstream enough for the masses (‘I Wanna F**k You’ with Akon was a definite pop highlight). Aptly named, his ninth album Ego Trippin’ was released in 2008 and sees the rapper dip into areas of autotune, disco/funk and guitar instrumentation.
In 2007 he made history by becoming the first artist to release a track as a ringtone before a single, ventured into the world of Bollywood to rap and star in the film Singh Is Kinng and joined Katy Perry to create the absolute tune that is ‘California Gurls’ in 2010. By that point, Snoop Dogg had become a household name and he was popping up in every form of media he could find. He was on your Top 40 radio, your YouTube comedy vids, and even in Bollywood. In 2009 he dropped Malice n Wonderland, a project which saw the likes of Soulja Boy, Brandy and The-Dream feature (and an accompanying mini-movie that portrayed Snoop as a “super gangsta”) and 2011 saw the release of his eleventh studio album Doggumentary. With more dance and electronic inspired sounds, and features from Kanye West, Gorillaz, Wiz Khalifa, David Guetta and John Legend, Doggumentary proved that Snoop was no longer stepping into the world of pop, he was instead the curator of a world that revolved around him.
The Wonderful World of Snoop Lion, Snoopzilla and DJ Snoopadelic
By the time 2012 rolled around, Snoop had successfully upheld his status for about 20 years; but rather than submit himself to the same tricks, he started looking for ways to branch out his career and experiment with new sounds and genres. The result? A trip to Jamaica, a rechristening by a Rastafari priest, and a new moniker named Snoop Lion. His twelfth studio album Reincarnated dropped in 2013 (with an added documentary), debuting Snoop to the world of reggae. Produced by Diplo and his group Major Lazer, the album sees features from the likes of Miley Cyrus, Akon, Chris Brown, Drake and Rita Ora, and was nominated for Best Reggae Album at the 2014 Grammys.
Liking the step outside his comfort zone, Snoop took inspiration from his previous collaborators Major Lazer and headed full force into the funk/EDM zeitgeist. Teaming up with Californian funk musician Dâm-Funk, the two created the duo 7 Days of Funk (with Snoop under his funk persona Snoopzilla) and dropped their debut album of the same name in 2013. And if that wasn’t enough, an EDM compilation titled Loose Joints was released by DJ Snoopadelic just a few months after Reincarnated.
Okay Enough, Now Back to Snoop Dogg
In 2014 (yes that’s absolutely right, all of that happened in the space of about two years), Snoop settled back into the name and sound people knew best with the Pharrell Williams-produced Bush. A pretty successful project (it reached number one on the US R&B/Hip-Hop chart as well as 14 on the Billboard 200), the features that popped up this time were Stevie Wonder, Kendrick Lamar and even Gwen Stefani, and the iconic partnership between Snoop and Williams once again proved it really was elite.
From there, Snoop released a few more projects that all followed a similar blueprint. The 2016 Coolaid (his take on Beyonce’s Lemonade) was a great return to the familiar Snoop the world all loved and 2017’s Neva Left reminded the game exactly just that. It had become clear that the rapper held his seat at the table well. Sure, he got up from it and walked around the room every once in a while, but there was no mistake the spot was his and no matter how much time would pass, it would always stay reserved.
The Snoop of Recent Years
You’d think by 2018, a whopping 26 years after your official debut, things would start to slow down a little, but Snoop only upped the ante. That year he released Bible of Love, a gospel album that aimed to “spread love and unity all across the world”, and the following year saw I Wanna Thank Me (which also came with a, you guessed it, documentary). Between all that, he appeared on the Gorillaz album The Now Now and Lil Dicky’s hit ‘Earth’, further extending his talents and charm to the pop world.
When From tha Streets 2 tha Suites arrived in 2021, amidst a worldwide pandemic, it was aimed to celebrate cannabis culture (it dropped on April 20 a.k.a 4/20) but really it showed so much more. For one, it further proved Snoop’s legendary flow and cool, but it was also a symbol of his journey from ’92 until then. Here is an artist who has withstood every change in an ever-changing industry. He’s adapted, experimented, crafted his skill and still stayed on top and kept a consistent chain of fans. From tha Streets 2 tha Suites says exactly that, and it’s a little piece of sentiment that reminds us why Snoop is one of the best to ever do it.
Seven months after FTS2TS, Snoop dropped his latest project Algorithm, a mammoth 25-track album that aims to strip rap right back to its basics and simply make you feel something, not just sound great. With everyone from Usher and Wiz Khalifa to Mary J. Blige and Ice Cube, the album stands as a testimony to Snoop’s legacy in the game and all the connections he’s made along his way, and the iconic dog cartoon artwork that’s featured throughout his discography makes yet another return, bringing the process full circle. Adding yet another notch to his colourful and lasting career, Algorithm is for the fans. Ones that have been there since Dead Row, since R&G, or even since just a few years ago. For every era of Snoop there’s been an era of fans behind him, and no matter how old that Dogg gets, he’ll never tire of learning new tricks.
‘Algorithm’, the latest album from Snoop Dogg, is available to stream now.