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The Honolulu Advertiser

Posted on: Friday, November 29, 2002

Snoop Dogg reverts to his gangsta image

By Natalie Hopkinson
Washington Post

Picture a world in which Tom Wolfe gives up his white suit. Where Sarah Jessica Parker swears off Manolos. In which Mike Wallace loses the scowl.

Such was the earth-shaking magnitude of a recent announcement from rap icon Snoop Dogg: He was giving up the gangsta life — and marijuana.

Speculation quickly followed about how the news would impact the global economy. Some of the more charitably minded in the hip-hop community talked of holding a benefit for his dealer.

Unbelievable as it was, that was Snoop's story. His public was ready to see him as more than just a ganja-smoking caricature, the reasoning went. It's called evolution. He was a family man. He was even planning an appearance on this year's Muppets Christmas special, for goodness sake.

He used one of the most staid of outlets, the Wall Street Journal, to make a sober announcement. "You got to be who you are, when you are," the 30-year-old rapper, born Calvin Broadus, told the newspaper in September. "It's just me getting older."

Well, Snoop made another statement Monday night with the debut of his MTV sketch comedy show, "Doggy Fizzle Televizzle." The 30-minute pilot, including skits, music performances and man-on-the-street bits, said something like this: "I's just playing, y'all!"

It's debatable at what point in the program it became apparent that he was ditching the family-values clap. Maybe it was during the skit where he worked undercover at an Arby's drive-through. He poured one unsuspecting customer his signature gin-and-juice.

Then again, he never ruled out alcohol.

Maybe it was when the gangly rapper, wearing gold chains and a powder blue velour jogging suit, bragged about getting kicked off said Muppets Christmas special before it even aired. Then he murdered a few nursery rhymes — "Old MacDonald" became "Old Mack Daddy."

How could we have fallen for that gonna-be-a-role-model talk? Snoop's vices were more than just shtick. They were his identity, the lyrical foundation he's built since his 1992 debut at 19 on Dr. Dre's gangsta rap classic "The Chronic."

It was a hackneyed formula, but it worked. It saw him through nearly a dozen albums, having Suge Knight as a boss, being acquitted of murder charges, then having Master P as a boss. And with this week's release of his latest album, "Paid Tha Cost to Be Da Bo$$" (Priority Records), it has taken him through yet another recording.

No word yet on whether MTV will extend the pilot — it drew 1.7 million viewers, respectable for MTV — but the show was just the beginning of the Doggy-style synergy at Viacom.

This is a Snoop Dogg week: He appeared on MTV's "Total Request Live" hours before "Televizzle" aired at 10:30 p.m. Monday. On Sunday, Snoop guest-hosted his personal top 25 videos on BET. An MTV $2 concert in Lexington, Ky., airs Monday. And Snoop's VH1 "Behind the Music" episode about his childhood in Long Beach, Calif., re-airs next week.

MTV execs say they hope "Televizzle" can be made into a regular series, which would cement Snoop's journey on the now well-worn path from gangsta to screen star.

"Snoop is a giant star for our audience," said Michele Dix, MTV's vice president for music and talent programming. "Everything he does reverberates throughout pop culture, and he's a likable character on camera."