Dr. Dre & Snoop Dogg: A History Of Their Relationship

As their Super Bowl performance approaches, we're recapping the three-decade long relationship between Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre.

BYRobert Blair
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Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre first entered one another’s orbits over three decades ago, forming a cross-community partnership between the LBC and the CPT. In spite of all the alterations to the music industry and the money that they've each accumulated, nothing has been able to sever the ties between these two OG rappers.

Snoop and Dre’s friendship is one of the most exemplary that we have in hip-hop, to the point where, they are so instrumental to one another’s career that the trajectory of each man's life could have been vastly different if they hadn't come together. However, what’s perhaps even more impressive about their friendship, is that it came about through sheer happenstance. 

Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre, circa 1990 - Raymond Boyd/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

"The first time I heard Snoop, it was when a friend of mine had a bachelor party," Dre revealed in HBO’s documentary series, The Defiant Ones. "But, I'd met Snoop before that. He was selling drugs and my stepbrother Warren G pops this tape in. I'm like that's Snoop? I'm like man, this is a f*****g diamond in the rough and we need to polish it up."

Pointed in Dre’s direction by his fellow 213 member, the then-21-year old Calvin Broadus was so shocked when the architect of NWA called him that he thought he was being pranked.

"I hung up, like: ‘n***a, this ain’t no motherfuckin’ Dr. Dre,’" Snoop said about their first encounter. "[Dre] called back and was like: ‘N***a, be at the studio, Monday.’"

Once the pair linked up, Dre realized that he had an untapped well of promise before him that would forever alter both of their lives."Snoop comes in the studio and I put this track on. He's just freestyling and it was super sick. Then, the thought of my solo album started becoming a reality in my mind," Dre stated.

Unshackled from Jerry Heller’s Ruthless Records and armed with the buying power of Suge Knight’s Death Row behind him, Dre wasted little time in bringing Snoop– who has actually just purchased their former label– aboard.  

Considering that his solo career came into focus while in the young Snoop Doggy Dogg’s presence, it's no surprise that when Dre’s first solo single, "Deep Cover," arrived in 1992, it featured Snoop at its core.  

Since then, Snoop has revealed that Dre actually hated “Deep Cover” to "the point that he almost didn’t want to put it out."

Within five months of "Deep Cover’s" release, Dre would release his first full body of work under his own moniker with The Chronic and once again, Snoop served as one of the production mastermind’s preferred MCs to delegate to. And as it turns out, the man that would become The Doggfather went out of his way to ensure that he was a pervading presence on the record."

Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre at the 1993 Billboard Music Awards- Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images

"When I listen back to The Chronic album, I'm like, how the fuck was I on damn near every song?" Snoop told Crook’s Corner. "I was whoopin' n***as! They would be going home to go get chicken, I'd be in that motherfucker all night. If Dre even had half of a beat or had the drums, I'd write some shit to the drums and come up with a melody. Before you know it, I'm on a song." "I was writing so much, Daz first song he was on, "Deeez Nuts," I wrote that whole thing. Cause I wanted him on the song, cause I liked his voice."

Although Snoop was at the forefront of Dre’s seminal debut, the doctor had bigger plans for his protege than for him to be part of an ensemble cast. Almost a year on from the 1992 release of The Chronic, Doggystyle would be unleashed upon the world.

Debuting at number one on the Billboard charts, the record, which was fuelled by major singles such as “Who Am I (What’s My Name) and “Gin & Juice,” made the Long Beach native into a global superstar. In Snoop’s estimations, it played an unrivaled role in the popularization of hip-hop in the mainstream. 

"It made it cool for white people to listen to rap," he said as he reflected upon the album’s 25th anniversary. "I’m just being point blank about it. They was listening to rap back then, but they wasn’t listening to no real n****s. NWA scared them, but Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre had them feeling like it was ok. It was ok for them to say “Nothin’ But A G Thang.” MTV jumped on it and it broke the barrier as far as everybody can listen to this. No-one’s going to judge you, they’re going to say you're cool. You’re actually going to be uncool if you’re not listening to Snoop Dogg."

Where hip-hop’s crown jewels previously laid in the east coast, the rise of Death Row Records– which was predominantly led by Snoop and Dre– meant that all of a sudden, the sunnier climes of California had taken pole position. 

Seen as the vanguards of a new era for the genre, Snoop and Dre’s dominance would actually play a central role in the burgeoning beef between the east and west coast. During their trip to the 1995 Source Awards, Dre obtaining the Producer Of The Year honors saw him showered in a sea of boos. And like any loyal apprentice, Snoop stepped up to the plate to defend his mentor. 

"The east coast ain’t got no love for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg?" He declared onstage during the infamous night. "The East Coast ain’t got no love for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg and Death Row? Y’all don’t love us? Y’all don’t love us? Well, let it be known then! We know y’all East Coast! We know where the fuck we at! East Coast in the muthafucking house!"

Despite the vehemence with which they defended the label and their home state at this point, both men weren’t long for the label. After things between himself and Suge grew increasingly acrimonious, Dre would leave in 1996 to set up Aftermath. As a result, Snoop’s 1996 sophomore project, The Doggfather, would be devoid of any Dre productions and was overseen by DJ Pooh instead.  

By 1998, Snoop would orchestrate his own departure from Death Row. But rather than heading to Dre’s newly minted Aftermath imprint, he ventured down south to Master P’s exorbitantly prosperous No Limit Records. 

Although they were no longer under the same umbrella, Snoop’s move put a prompt end to their brief spell of estrangement. In 1999, Dre provided three tracks for Snoop’s No Limit Top Dogg project in the form of "Bitch Please," "Just Dippin" and "Buck Em" and in doing so, fulfilled every hip-hop fan’s wishlist by allowing the LBC’s finest to return to the beats that made his name. 

Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre perform in Times Square, New York City, 1999 - Scott Gries/ImageDirect/Getty Images

Re-energized by their reunion, Snoop would reassume his role as an integral cog in Dre’s roster of supporting characters on his long-awaited sophomore album, 2001. Present across two of the record’s lead singles in the shape of "The Next Episode" and "Still D.R.E," both tracks have gone on to become unabashed classics in the broader hip-hop canon and in the case of the latter, allowed the pair to delegate to another icon in Hov.

"He wrote Dre’s shit and my shit and it was flawless," Snoop told The Breakfast Club of its creation. "It was ‘Still D.R.E.’ and it was Jay-Z and he wrote the whole fucking song."

To coincide with the release of Dre’s new record, the duo and an all-star cast of fellow MCs would spend 2000 on the fabled Up In Smoke Tour. Captured for posterity by a film crew, the near-three month-long tour also fractured Eminem, Ice Cube, Warren G, The DOC, and countless others.  

"Imagine reading The Avengers comic book and then being in The Avengers," Xzibit said of the tour during a reflective interview with HipHopDX. "Look, I gotta contain myself because I’m used to reading the back of these covers. I’m used to seeing them on TV and now we’re praying together, walking out on stage and the crowd is considering me a part of this family."

Snoop and Dre performing at Coachella, 2012 - Christopher Polk/Getty Images

At this point, the two seemed firmly joined at the hip once more and in 2001, the two co-starred in DJ Pooh’s cult classic film The Wash. 

Following Snoop’s brief dalliance with Pharrell’s Star Trak camp across 2002’s Paid Tha Cost To Be Tha Boss and R&G: Rhythm & Gangsta: The Masterpiece, Dre would return to the producer’s chair for 2006’s The Blue Carpet Treatment, delivering both “Round Here” and the all-star collaboration of himself, Snoop & D’Angelo on “Imagine.” 

As was customary, a decade passed without a project dropping from Dre, and for many fans, the proposed dream of his grand swansong, Detox, was already beginning to look unobtainable. Then, in 2010, Dre returned from his own self-imposed exile with “Kush” featuring Akon and, you guessed it, Snoop Dogg.

But once again, the momentum couldn’t be sustained and in a 2011 interview, Snoop suggested that his absence from Dre’s recording process in favor of a stable of newcomers may explain why the Detox project had been continually derailed. 

"I’mma say this and I don’t know if it’s gonna ruffle any feathers. I just think the wrong people is in the environment. When he made records that were hit records in the past: D.O.C., Snoop Dogg, RBX, Kurupt," said the rapper. "It’s like it’s pieces that’s not there that need to be there. And I’ll say D.O.C. and Snoop Dogg is the backbone. When you take those two equations and you take them out of the equation it’s not gonna work. You need to put them two back into the situation and let us mastermind and head the project like we did The Chronic in 2001. That’s what’s missing."

Seen as more of a constructive criticism than any kind of slight, the comments did nothing to sully their friendship and in 2012, it was announced that the pair would headline Coachella together. A bonafide celebration of what they'd accomplished together, their set even made worldwide headlines following their decision to reanimate the late Tupac Shakur in holographic form. 

Fresh from their celebration of all things G-funk, some hypothesized that the two would be hopping back into the studio together with haste. However, it’d take until 2015’s Compton for the pair to link back up again. Every bit as star-studded as the Dre albums that preceded it, Dre’s third record saw him enlist Snoop for “One Shot, One Kill” and “Satisfaction”, as well as the Dogg providing additional vocals to the Cube, Anderson Paak and Dem Jointz-led “Issues.” 

Snoop and Dre at the Hollywood Walk of Fame ceremony, 2018 - Kevin Winter/Getty Images

With both parties firmly nestled into their positions as elder statesmen, 2018 would see Dr. Dre do the honors when Snoop Dogg was given a star on the Hollywood Walk Of Fame. 

"Snoop is always there for me, ready to work, and constantly motivating and pushing me and making me believe I could do it," Dre said during his induction speech. "I mean, I could always hear his voice in my head. 'I cannot imagine where I’d be in my life if I had not collaborated with Snoop.'"

So resplendent in praise for his mentor that he has even compared him to Bill Belichick in his ability to coach him to greatnessSnoop has returned the favor to Dre at every opportunity and was even present during his sessions with Kanye West where they reportedly worked on the scrapped Jesus Is King. 

A year down the line, the Dogg would also come to Dre’s aid during his time of need. After the revered producer was reportedly served divorce papers during his grandmother’s funeral, Snoop sent him an empowering message which implored him to keep pushing through.

"You got your soldiers with you. You got me, Em, Kendrick… We with you, cuz, let’s go," he said, citing the rappers that are set to join their anticipated Superbowl Halftime performance.

"It's hard to explain his method to madness. But when you look at everybody that he touched, look at our careers, look at how successful we are, without him," Snoop said during his most recent trip to The Breakfast Club. "A lot of people can't make it without the person that put them in. We've done just fine without him. And we still maintain that relationship with him. So the Super Bowl performance should be something special, because I know he really wants to give the people what they want. This is an L.A. moment, and Dr. Dre is a West Coast guy."

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