Snoop Dogg featuring Kurupt and Charlie wilson-Up Jump Tha Boogie
I grew up in the era of Snoop Dogg. The anticipation on his sophomore album was unrivaled. He dominated the Chronic and his first album was coming out of every headphone in my school, parents hated him and that helped. You know the anticipation is intense when everyone seems to cop at the same time, maybe the only other two albums I felt that with were Dre 2001 and the Blueprint.
Tha Doggfather turned out to be seventeen shades more somber than anyone counted on. Purist funky to its absolute core almost every lyric was tinged with paranoia and sadness. Dr. Dre had left, Tupac died and Snoop was starting to see the Death Row Dream become a nightmare.
Everyone knew from the cover that this was going to be Snoop on his throne taking his place as one of the most powerful artists in Rap. No one knew he would do it obstinately, while lamenting the violence surrounding his record labels success. I remember a class mate at the time telling me he didn’t like this album nearly as much because it didn’t have enough swearing. That sounds idiotic now but for a white kid in Maine…he had never heard the B word pronounced like that. He wanted so much more of teenage Snoop, getting drunk, cracking jokes, and lashing out at authority. The maturation point between youth and experience is somewhere between Doggystyle and Tha Doggfather. I know because the lyric “Just what we needed, banging on wax, another Crip. What you gon’ do N#$% jack the mother ship? You’re like an actor with another script, predictable as Rambo with another clip. How many N#$%’s you gon’ kill in your verse? You need to sit down and learn to get down first,” could never have happened on Doggystyle.
Snoop had seen so much hostility and death that he wasn’t just offended by it he was exhausted. The idiocy of rappers making reputations based on toughness alone in a world that was supposed to allow them a venue for art stuck in his craw. Up Jump Tha Boogie is funky and loose according to the beat and the accompanying music video but deathly serious from bar to bar culminating in my favorite Snoop Dogg line “…but before I give a N#$%% a 9 I’d rather give a N#$%%^ a mic and write him a rhyme.” Even as one of the most influential people in his entire industry he detested the violence so much that to end it he wouldn’t just give opportunities he would write bars. I’m not taking this literally of course. It speaks to the anxiety that is the backbone of my favorite Snoop Dogg song and my favorite creative period for him. You can have Gin and Juice, you can have Deep Cover. I’ll take the dejected Dogg from the back cover, snarling on his throne and wondering why the rap world he gets to rule is so damn polluted.