Friday’s keynote address at the South by Southwest Music Conference was a portrait of Snoop Dogg, painted by the rapper/songwriter/actor himself.
For more than an hour, before a standing-room-only crowd in one of the largest ballrooms in the Austin Convention Center, Snoop Dogg answered questions from his manager, Ted Chung, a last-minute replacement as moderator.
Chung said his goal was to “get into the DNA of Snoop,” so he chaperoned his client through highlights of one of the more colorful and successful music careers of the past 25 years. Snoop Dogg has sold more than 30 million albums, appeared in dozens of films and is a 16-time Grammy nominee (he is tied with Brian McKnight for most nominations without a win). And he’s only 43.
Snoop, whose attire included spectacles, a sweater vest and bow tie, talked about his mother, who introduced him to artists like the Isley Brothers, Teddy Pendergast, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder and Smokey Robinson — and to people he wasn’t supposed to be listening to, like Richard Pryor.
His mother — through the music she played, the parties she threw and the piano lessons she afforded him — taught him about “the spirit that music embodied,” Snoop said.
He talked about the economic hardships suffered by his hometown of Long Beach, Calif., in the 1980s. Government assistance like after-school programs were taken away, and “guns and drugs moved in and people started selling drugs and shooting at each other.”
At this point, Chung brought up Snoop’s latest project: an HBO show he’s developing with film director Allen Hughes (“The Book of Eli”) and Rodney Barnes (“The Boondocks”). “This is, like, a dream come true to be able to tell a story that was going to be told the right way on the right network,” Snoop said.
And so it went. Chung prompted Snoop to revisit the various stages of his career: the rappers who influenced him, such as the Sugar Hill Gang and Slick Rick; the start of his collaborations with Dr. Dre, which led him into his multi-platinum stardom; and about his dedication to growth and evolution, which requires staying relevant and in touch. And working hard.
“I pay attention,” he said. “I keep my ear to the street and my feet to the pavement.”
Sports was a topic as well. Snoop talked about the youth football program he started 11 years ago that has produced nearly 60 Division 1 players, giving children from families who typically can’t afford it a chance to go to college.
When Chung asked Snoop to name one of the proudest moments of his life, he said it was earlier this year when his son, Cordell Broadus, a product of his youth football program, accepted a full-ride to UCLA.
His most challenging moment? Losing Nate Dogg, part of his 213 trio with Warren G, who died in 2011 after a series of strokes.
Chung’s final question: What advice would Snoop Dogg today, at 43, give a young Snoop? “I have no regrets,” he said. “Whatever happened was meant to be. I’d never go back and rewrite. ... I’ve enjoyed every moment of it, good and bad.”
Here’s a shot of Snoop at the “Game of Thrones” party.