Snoop Dogg insists that despite what you've heard about him lately, he isn't that bad a dude.
True, he was recently barred from entering the United Kingdom (see "Snoop Dogg Barred From Entering U.K., Cancels Dates With Diddy"), and he got caught up in the Don Imus flap (see "Snoop Says Rappers And Imus Are 'Two Separate Things'; Talks New Comp" and "Hip-Hop Hits Back At Imus, Critics: T.I., Snoop, Fat Joe, Common Weigh In"). But on the plus side, he loves his family, WWE wrestling and, of course, music.
The Dogg has been one of the most vocal MCs in hip-hop, telling his friends to unite, and here you'll find out just where he stands on rappers dissing each other. Hint: He feels that hip-hop has enough enemies. Snoop also says, in his own inimitable way, that people shouldn't be so hard on the women in rap videos.
MTV: You recently put out the album Snoop Dogg Presents: The Big Squeeze. Part of your squeezing of the industry has to do with choking out all the beef. You've been able to help end quite a few beefs, especially on the West Coast, with your Western Conference summit meeting a few years ago.
Snoop Dogg: A few wildfires pop up every once in a while, but for the most part I ended the traumatic stuff. "I'm gonna get you, I'm gonna kill you" — pretty soon we're gonna get rid of all that, 'cause to me, the battle-rap days are over. It had its time and place when rap first came out — it was fun, it was friendly, it was cool. But now that needs to be out of the game. They have the DVDs with the rap battles, and when you lost, you lost. I like that because it's structured. But when you get a [record] deal, it's more egos and personalities and stuff you have to live up to, and that prevents you [from taking] your loss like a man. You have to revert to some ignorant-ass move as opposed to, "I got beat." Like Jay-Z and Nas, who won that battle? Some say Nas, some say Jay-Z. But they were man enough to become business partners after that. That's how it should be. If it ain't like that, then it needs to get going. They need to just be making good music.
MTV: So what do you do in the case of Tru-Life? You're co-executive-producing his debut album with Jay-Z, but he's involved in one of the big rap beefs now with the Diplomats. [Editor's Note: Shortly after this interview, Tru-Life and Cam'ron were involved in an altercation outside New York nightclub Stereo. While Tru says things got physical, Cam's camp calls the incident little more than an argument.]
Snoop: Certain situations are so delicate. I try to play my hand like Martin Luther King, but sometimes I gotta be Malcolm X. So it's like a double-edged sword. It's like, do I wanna offend Jim Jones by saying Tru-Life is right? Do I wanna offend Tru-Life by doing something with Jim Jones and the Dipset? That's petty to me. We're musicians. I should be able to work with whoever I wanna work with and not offend anybody. This is a music industry where we should take advantage of our position. Our power is to create music that reflects what you feel is right.
They're trying to stomp out rap with this Imus situation. I don't wanna speak on it heavily, but they're trying to use us as a scapegoat. "Well, how can they say it and get away with it?" So they're gonna be trying to look for some reason to take this away from us, and if we can't get along then that's a perfect reason. But if we're getting along and we're policing each other and we're able to communicate, then if I have a misunderstanding with you, I'm able to call you without calling Russell Simmons or Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson.
MTV: You always hear from them whenever there's any type of situation. Snoop: Those guys are irrelevant, if you ask me, and that's not to disrespect them. I love what they do and how they do it, but they're not players, they're owners. You gotta get the players involved.
MTV: You're right about the different MCs needing to be more vocal in different situations — not just with the music, but with the community as a whole. One of the biggest knocks on you is not just the language in your music, but the women in your videos.
Snoop: Who's to say that these women in videos are ho's? They are classy women, and if you really try to mack to them, they'll tell you, "Well, I have a man" or "I'm not into that" or "I don't do that." Not every girl in the videos has sex with the rappers or lays out her body and does whatever the rapper says. A lot of these women do this as a means of modeling or being appreciated for their looks.
MTV: But when the mainstream takes a look at it, sometime they all get grouped in the promiscuous video-vixen category.
Snoop: It's a shame that they are being classified as video ho's. Halle Berry was in a video with [Fred Durst]. Does that make her a ho? She kissed him in the video too. Does that make her a ho? ... Not everybody is a video vixen. Some girls are into it because they are following their dreams. TV is a long way for a lot of these girls from the country or small parts of the world.
If I see [a] video, I'll be like, "Ooh! Who is that in the T.I. video?" I'll hit T.I., "Hey, nephew, who is that in the video?" She's trying to be a model. "Give me her number." Boom, I put her in my video, somebody sees her. "Hey, Snoop, who was that in the video? I need her in my movie." She made a name for herself now. She's in a movie. But we always bring each other down. It's the crabs-in-the-barrel thing. Me and Nick Cannon were talking about this the other day.
MTV: Just when you try to get up, somebody is trying to pull you down.
Snoop: With these girls, how can we make it to where older women are going to appreciate us? It's not the younger women, it's you old-ass ladies sitting at home mad about what? Nothing, because the women allow themselves to be in these videos. We don't force them to be in these videos. They want to be seen, and they have calendars, portfolios, headshots, cards. They got Web sites where you can get a chance to know who these girls are as opposed to casting judgment on us for the way we're rapping and how they are in these videos.