As KRS-One articulated throughout his catalog and in his many teachings, “Rap is something you do, hip hop is something you live.” As the culture continues to evolve today, many feel it’s not only important, but vital to preserve and honor the fundamental elements: Graffiti, emceeing, breakdancing, deejaying and knowledge. This column called “Each One, Teach One” aims to do exactly that. It will highlight various lessons that can be passed between new and old generations alike.
The man born Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr. is an absolute legend. His icon status dates back years, so much so that only a handful of his day-one fans recognize him by his government name. Snoop Dogg’s famous nickname — like many impactful things in this life — was dubbed by his mother who lightheartedly joked that he looked like Snoopy from the “Peanuts” cartoon. Not only did he take such a nickname in stride, but he flipped it into both his now-iconic personal brand and an empire worth well over a reported $135 million.
The West Coast heavyweight first got his start rapping in the sixth grade and was later connected to Dr. Dre by his friend Warren G in his teenage years. While the early 1990s played host to such a fated meeting and solidified his path as someone determined to make a name for himself in the music industry, much of his success can be credited to his self-taught business savvy, ability to adapt and unrelenting drive. Snoop Dogg decided early on how he wanted to spend his time and utilize his talents as a born entertainer, a decision that has since evolved into a multifaceted career spanning over three decades.
Snoop, who has since gone on to sell over 35 million albums across the globe, didn’t rise to the revered position he is in today by sheer luck alone. In fact, quite the opposite is true, with Snoop finding ways to persevere even when the odds were stacked against him. In the early days of his career, fresh out of high school, he found himself getting into trouble with the law. He fought drug charges and was later charged with murder. He was arrested in connection with the death of a member of a rival gang who was shot and killed by Snoop’s bodyguard, a situation that could have gone irreversibly left. Instead, after being caught up in a high-profile legal battle for three years, Snoop Dogg was eventually acquitted alongside his bodyguard.
While his legal troubles didn’t end there in the slightest — with the rapper being arrested multiple times, including in 2015 for allegedly violating Sweden’s strict drug laws — Snoop’s newfound focus and determination helped separate him from the pack. With 16 studio albums under his belt and his next one I Wanna Thank Me due out later this year, Snoop Dogg’s continued success in music is just as impressive as his penchant for diversifying his personal brand, all without straying too far from what he stands for regardless of the industry or endeavor.
From his appearance in over three dozen movies and counting — all the way to his 1993 critically acclaimed debut, Doggystyle — Snoop Dogg’s authenticity, along with his work ethic and ability to resonate across generations of fans, remains the stuff of absolute legend. Naturally, there are countless lessons to be found in the example set by Snoop Dogg — ranging from marketing to recording music to trying new things. For the sake of brevity, and in trusting that one of the most epic biopics is likely in the works someday, let’s take a look at five ways Snoop Dogg inspires others to step up their game in business and in the spirit of self-betterment.
“Sometimes a loss is the best thing that can happen. It teaches you what you should have done next time.”
Snoop Dogg didn’t become Snoop Dogg overnight. None of your faves did. However, knowing the importance of being patient, especially during trying times, speaks to exactly how Snoop was able to see his vision to fruition in the first place, as well as make sure he didn’t stray from his own individual calling. Snoop’s ability to learn from his mistakes is an important area to learn from, as is his acknowledgement that while he’s been through a lot, he’s not letting anything stop him. After all, he wouldn’t be who he is — let alone where he is — if he couldn’t find a way to move past his mistakes, instead of letting them define him.
“When I’m no longer rapping, I want to open up an ice cream parlor and call myself Scoop Dogg.”
Snoop Dogg has mastered the art of the rebrand, all without abandoning his roots. It’s impressive to say the least. From taking on his Snoop Lion moniker while exploring making reggae music to winning over the friendship of trusted lifestyle expert Martha Stewart, Snoop Dogg is full of surprises and certainly keeps it interesting. His foresight to recognize the ways in which his brand was destined to expand past music is part of what drives him to keep moving forward and makes him an interesting case study for what it means to experience longevity in the entertainment industry. Whether he is hosting a TV show centered around de-stigmatizing marijuana or moonlighting as a tech investor, Snoop Dogg’s ability to diversify his interests and wisely divvy up his time is an excellent place to look for motivational purposes.
“If it’s flipping hamburgers at McDonald’s, be the best hamburger flipper in the world. Whatever it is you do, you have to master your craft.”
Snoop became a master of his craft by putting in the work. No shortcuts. Snoop Dogg has built a name for himself by collaborating with a who’s-who list of artists, impressively lending his talents as a featured artist on over one thousand songs. While Snoop Dogg collaborating with an artist found on a lesser tier may not technically do much for his own career, quite the opposite is true when factoring in how Snoop offering his co-sign is essentially a mutually beneficial move in terms of cultural relevance. Snoop has effortlessly secured his position as everyone’s favorite uncle, allowing him to effectively navigate through the perils of industry ageism without losing a single facet of his cool factor. After all, continuing to execute on the level in which he does is all part of exactly why he’s one of the best to ever do it.
“The most important decision I’ve made in business? The choices of people I have around me.”
Snoop Dogg doesn’t go into business with just anyone. In fact, he hasn’t shied away once from vocalizing how Kanye West’s endorsement of Donald Trump will forever rub him the wrong way. Snoop isn’t afraid to express his opinion, and does so in a manner that demands respect. Those who seek to challenge him know what’s at stake. Snoop’s ability to diversify his brand without alienating his audience wouldn’t be possible if he wasn’t selective about who he keeps around him.
“I used to be focused on being the dopest rapper in the game, and then once that became what I was, I wanted something different, and I wanted to become the best businessman in the game. I wanted to learn how to master the business like I mastered the rap.”
Of the many lessons found in Snoop’s example is his hunger to push his own limits. Simply put, he never stops learning. This allowed him to evolve into the mogul he is today. From advocating on behalf of legalization through his marijuana media company Merry Jane to investing in his own cannabis line to co-founding his own venture capital firm to starting a dog food business, no move is too small when it’s strategic. His entrepreneurial spirit is rooted in his curiosity, creativity and drive to not only survive; but thrive.
As such, Snoop Dogg’s penchant for personal growth and brand evolution can equally be celebrated and studied, encouraging the next generation of creative entrepreneurs to become their own bosses through a perfect hybrid of strategy, passion and resilience.
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