Snoop Dogg is no longer an active gang member. In fact, renouncing his formerly violent life is what he's about these days, and his Snoop Lion and Snoopzilla personas have sought to showcase a more socially conscious, peace-and-love Dogg.
But mainstream America still sees him as rough and tumble, and trading on that image remains a fun and lucrative thing to do. Which is why Snoop's endorsement of a Swedish company called Happy Socks is not figuratively (and literally) soft, but in fact makes sense.
The socks split the difference between whimsical, comfortable and dapper, and Snoop claims he discovered the brand on his own. He posted a pair to Instagram, at which time the company reached out. His new line has a blue paisley pair (one says Gin, the other says Juice), a Rasta pair, and one featuring a paint brush that was inspired by "art."
“I gotta fuck with you, first of all,” Snoop says, explaining how he decides which brands to endorse. After many, many years of selling everything from Chryslers to digital blunts, he remains a popular pitchman and self-described "marketing machine," with millons of social media followers.
He attributes his success, in part, to being a bit choosy. He says he won't do a "money play," which he's often offered. Companies are constantly sending him boxes of their crap. "I got mad free shit in the house I don’t even fuck with.”
He explains all of this in June, from Makers Studio in Culver City, where Happy Socks is doing a unique press event that was embargoed until recently. The press turnout isn't great — there are perhaps eight of us, and about as many publicists, including one from Sweden with a neck tattoo — and Snoop speaks to the gathered from a throne on a platform. No one seems to find this at all odd.
In the hallway are a bunch of Snoop's paintings. He’s been painting since January, he says, and the works incorporate street art influences. You can get a sense of them in the promotional video at the end of this article, a truly inspired piece of marketing which features a shirtless, baby-oiled Snoop living out his Jackson Pollack fantasies while being assisted by a trio of midriff-revealing, saucy-socked assistants. (What all this has to do with the socks is unclear — he did not personally design them.)
Any there any painters or paintings you particularly like? someone asks.
“The right answer would be 'the Mona Lisa,'" he says, affecting a snooty voice to say the da Vinci painting's name. "But I’ve never even seen the bitch. I would say Basque... How do you say his name? Basquiat.
“It’s not like I wanna go to school for art, or I wanna be Picasso or da Vinci," he continues. "I just want to give an expression to what I’ve been feeling. A lot of time in my music, you don’t really understand what I’m going through, you just hear it. I thought a picture would give you a more of an in-depth view of the personality I have, and the artistic view that I have.”
At one point he flirts subtly with a cute reporter from Australia, which happens to be where he did his first painting not long ago, at a place called the Versace Hotel.
“The Versace Hotel?” she says. “I’ve never been.”
“I’ll get you there,” Snoop responds, deadpan.
In any case, more to the point, Snoop insists that he is in fact, a "sock man," and that Happy Socks "understood my vision."
To conclude, he lays out said sartorial vision by incorporating a line from one of his songs. One must always be sure to stay “G’ed up from the feet up.”
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