A few days ago I saw a story on Ignites (Financial Times) that Snoop Dog had been recruited by a group that is trying to convince people to “unload” gun company related investments from their retirement accounts. I am actually a Snoop fan and like his music. I think he is a pretty talented rapper and has some good lyrics and even cited him as an example of rap with “character”. I can do this even though I fundamentally disagree with his excessive use of the N-word because his music makes him a good musician, but not a good role model. You don’t praise someone for advocating violence and disrespect.
But my reason for writing this post has nothing to do with Snoop’s talent or style, it has to do with hypocrisy. You can’t use your identity to profess an idea as noble, while espousing contrary ideas as a part of your identity. ESPECIALLY when your identity is the only reason someone asked you to espouse the idea. Check out some of Snoop’s lyrics.
One gun is all that we need, to put you to rest
Pump pump, put 2 slugs dead in your chest
Now you dead then a motherfucker, creepin and sleepin
6 feet deep in, fuckin with the Pound is
Suicide, it’s a suicide
–From “Serial Killa” 1993
Prepare for a war, it’s on, I’m head huntin
Hit the button, and light shit up like Red Dawn
Peep, the massicre from a verbal assassin
Murderin with rhymes packin Tec-9’s for some action
–From “Doggy Dogg world” 1993
Me and my cousin Corleone we run downtown
Murder’s an everyday thang in the city
Where you gotta plot chips, jag robberies and do in its
Tanadian Nay, the charge of the weapons
Hit from verandahs and do a thing unexpected
So we plan a plot with an Uzi and 10 shot
Buck em till they all drop,circle round the block
Let em have it as soon as they come out
Unload on their ass, commence to takin them out!
–From “Downtown Assassins” 1996
What you aint heard why I ride for these niggas, I die for these niggas
Do a drive by with my forty five cause I’m down with these niggas
–From “Down 4 My Niggas” 1999
See me, I’m bout my money my paper I’m bout my dollars
Poppin collars with this mac and this slack and these two revolvers
–From “Wrong Idea” 2000
Later in Snoop’s career he seems to have become a little more enlightened, like he actually believes that the glorification of gangs and violence is not longer really all that admirable. But I have never seen him condemn his music as something like youthful misguided exuberance or use any language that made you think he might have regretted it or learned a lesson that he now wants to impart on his young loyal fans. He somewhat tried to disassociate his older music by recording under a different name “Snoop Lion” but his public persona is still Snoop Dogg.
From his new thinking, the best line below is about how the bullet isn’t the fault, but the shooter. And that even while he advocates against guns, it’s people -no not the gun on its own- but people that “didn’t listen”.
I know that somebody died, somebody’s child
Some people ducked down and some people hide
Some people just cannot react in time
Bullets do not choose a victim
It is the shooter that picks them
They just cant wait to get you in the system
The district attorney could use a conviction
Told you no guns and then you didn’t listen
–From “No Guns Allowed” 2013
Isn’t it great that this comes from the guy who was acquitted of murder in 1996 not because he wasn’t in the car with his bodyguard who killed someone, but because they followed the victim to a takeout restaurant, picked a verbal fight with the person and fired at the victim when he reached for his own gun. ie Self-defense.
But just 2 years before this newfound disapproving opinion of gun use, look at how he explicitly looks back on his youth. Is this really the guy you want as a role model who released this gem of nostalgia?
The hood raised me, gang-banging made me a bully, ya dig
Burnt out and any party we at, you know it’s turned out
The people talking the rumours
Now what you heard about?
How I spend 100 thou gettin’ purped out
I’m strapped up, I keep a pistol for these suckers tryna act up
They know I’m famous like I won’t get in the streets cuz
–From “Raised in Da Hood” 2011
So those of us that want to own guns for self-defense and want a healthy industrial complex to enable our right for self-defense are wrong, but Snoop can be ‘strapped’ because he is scared of his rabid fans? Does that sound right? Sounds like a lot of hypocrisy to me. Maybe over the last few years Snoop has given up his gangsta ways and really believes he should just smoke pot to replace the violence of his past. But without moving away from the violence-glorifying public persona that built him up, I still can’t buy into the idea of Snoop as any sort of advocate for anti-violence and certainly not an effective spokesperson for an attitude that is suddenly anti-gun. What you say and do stays with you; if you build a persona around a fake or ‘stage’ name, then all of that baggage comes with you. Stick to rapping. #UnloadSnoop