LOS ANGELES — Could Snoop Dogg's smile get any wider? Definitely not. The legendary rapper just got the stamp of approval from one of the world's greatest and best-known athletes: David Beckham.
Yep, their friendship isn't something made up just for the Dogg's E! reality program, "Father Hood."
"I have all of Snoop's albums, and that's definitely one of his best ones," one of Beckham's associates enthusiastically said to Snoop's business partner, Ted Chung, as he stepped outside of the control room where the new LP, Ego Trippin', was playing. Beckham, Arch Bishop Don "Magic" Juan, Snoop and a host of the Dogg's friends were still vibing inside.
"I ain't no groupie or nothing, but that n---a there is the biggest thing to hit L.A. since Shaq," one of Snoop's homies said of the soccer superstar minutes later, leaving to get his digital camera. No way this moment wasn't going to be captured.
After a round of photos Beckham and company left.
"I'll see y'all later, Church!" Beckam said to Snoop.
Ego Trippin' comes out next month, and indeed, Beckham's friend's summation that it will be a gem in Snoop's legendary catalog didn't seem off. The Long Beach, California, rapper turned the album in to his record label Friday and still couldn't get enough of it that night. He gave it one more spin as his friends DJ Quik and Teddy Riley arrived.
"We're known as QDT," Snoop later told MTV News, sitting next to Quik and Teddy. "Compton's finest, if you ask me. ... We've always played for the same team, we just never wore the same uniform.
"Before I was making records, I was buying [Riley's] records," Snoop said. "I was inspired by the whole movement that he had with the New Jack Swing and the R&B records from Al B.Sure, and Keith Sweat ... He's a guy that you sit back and wait for his records to come out, so you can see what you're going to do next."
The three legends have officially forged a musical friendship, kinship and business partnership. QDT want to work together the way Timbaland and Justin Timberlake make albums together and have gone to write, produce and cameo on records for other artists.
Their first project is Ego Trippin'. It started out simply enough: Snoop called in DJ Quik — who has some of the best ears in the business — to mix for the album's early recording sessions. Meanwhile, Riley — who'd been on a year-long sabbatical — met Dogg at the VH1 Hip Hop Honors, where Snoop asked Riley for some beats. He went home and started making a myriad of tracks. Snoop loved the three he heard, and everything blossomed from there.
Riley was given the task of coming up with Ego Trippin's second single, a follow-up to the monster track "Sensual Seduction."
"We redid Morris Day and the Time's 'Cool,' " Snoop said with a smile. "People are gonna trip when they hear how I'm singing on there. Teddy had me sing the whole thing by myself."
"Coooool. Ain't nobody bad like me," Doggy sings on the track. "I got diamonds on my fingers and a couple on my toes. ... I'm just cool. So cool. Ain't nobody bad like me."
Elsewhere, on what will probably be another single, tentatively titled "I'm Alright," the vocal duties are shifted to Raphael Saadiq. (It seems Snoop went back on last year's promise that he'd have no guests on this album.)
"I'm alright, I'm alright, we allllright./ ... Waste of time, go your way, and I'll go mine." The record is about Snoop 86ing a girl.
In the studio, Dogg started dancing, rhyming and sliding on the floor to the sounds of his own music. Don Juan got up and joined in with his own moves. Out of nowhere, Ray J popped up. But that's far from random: Snoop has more famous friends than a dog has fleas, and everybody's welcome to join him.
They just might serve as a muse to one of his rhymes.
"Me and Leonardo DiCaprio," he raps on a song called "Hollywood Nights." "He keep a bad ho. I keep a bad ho."
Pharrell Williams and Too Short also contribute to the LP. This time around, not only did Snoop get people like Shawty Red to write his song lyrics, he brought in a team of aspiring MCs to pen his rap lyrics too.
"I'm into giving people chances," he explained. "They wrote what they thought Snoop Dogg should be saying. It turned out wonderful."
Maybe he should have named the project I'm Not Ego Trippin'.