Local legend. Hip-hop pioneer. Martha Stewart's BFF. Snoop Dogg now can add “booze ambassador” to his bulging list of accolades. The Long Beach native released Coolaid — his 14th studio album — last year, and shows no signs of slowing down in 2017, releasing a film this spring and collaborating on several projects with a diverse spectrum of musicians. L.A. Weekly caught up with him at the Cicada Club downtown, during a recent photo shoot for his campaign with Tanqueray Ten gin. With the help of local barman Niko Novick of N2 Mixology, Snoop assembled a few gin and juice cocktails (naturally) while discussing life, libations and looking good after nearly a quarter century on the scene.
What are we drinking?
[The Laid Back — 1 Part Tanqueray Ten, 1 Part Ciroc Apple Vodka, 2 parts pineapple, splash of soda.]
You know Martha Stewart made this same drink for me on my show [Martha and Snoop's Potluck Dinner Party]. But she put a ball in it, though. A big-ass ball. That motherfucker — I ain't never drunk a drink with a big-ass ball. It fucked me up, but it was good. I never thought I'd say I liked balls, but…
Where did the idea for the drink come from?
They got great behind-the-scenes people that work at Tanqueray who make suggestions, who give me ideas, who work with me, and they made a suggestion that maybe we coulda shoulda woulda, and we came up with the idea [to add Ciroc, Sean Combs' brand of vodka], being that it's all up under the same umbrella. And then Puffy is one of my closest friends, so he don't mind me giving his drink more airplay. So it's like his drink is on two different television stations at the same time. But it's a great complement to this drink. Why not mix and match?
In your classic hit “Gin and Juice” you famously mention Seagram's. Do you plan on adjusting the lyrics now that you're into a different brand?
I ain’t really came up with no new lyrics yet for the Tanqueray Ten. It’s touching me, though. I like the bottle, I like the way it looks, I like the way it tastes. It’s got a new twist to it, so i definitely gotta put a new twist to the lyrics. You gave me some food for thought.
How did this collaboration form between you and Tanqueray Ten?
Tanqueray has always been good to me, and we never really had a working relationship. I would order bottles and they would look out for me because of what I had said on my song and whatnot. Then once their peoples got at my peoples we forged a relationship. I'm all about pushing something new and the bottle was fly, and it just felt right — it wasn't too big. You know, when we in the club, we don't wanna hold a bottle too big, we wanna hold something that feel fly, you know what I'm saying? And it taste good at the same time. Look good, feel good, taste good.
You introduced a new generation to the cocktail in 1993 with multiple tracks on Doggystyle. Who introduced you to that drink?
My momma! Momma was a cold drinker in the '70s. They used to have parties at the house in the living room with a bar, with the 8-track cassette player. They be drinking their Tanqueray and having a good time and partying. It represented a good time.
What music do you remember from those days?
The Dramatics, Marvin Gaye, Isley Brothers, Manhattans. Anything that made you dance, you know what I'm saying? Momma and them danced. [The gin is] what made them dance, in my eyes. Now that i'm looking at it, 'cause they always had a cup full of it. It was either in a red cup or the Styrofoam cup, but they always had a cup of it.
Was it always gin for you? So many people in the rap game get down with cognac — did that ever resonate?
I didn't do the brown, man, 'cause I'm brown enough. Too much brown ain't good enough for you. The worst hangovers are with the brown. The ones that you be like, “Oh my God, I'm never gonna drink again!” You never got those with [clear spirits].
Do you feel a certain sophistication with gin?
Gin is upper echelon. It's a step up. Because you just don't find — and no disrespect — regular winos just drinking Tanqueray. You understand me? That go back to the days when I used to go the liquor store, they'd be standing out there … they'd be like “gimme a few dollars, li'l man … gimme something to get me something to drink.” And I'd give them something to drink and they wouldn't get this [pointing to his gin bottle]! They would get that Mad Dog dub dub, or that Night Train … you understand me? Thunderbird.
What was it like working with Martha Stewart? Were there ever any moments when you were genuinely shocked by something she'd say?
She different, ya know, than what I'm accustomed up. But then again she's so what I'm accustomed to. 'Cause she people. She just look different and she was born in a different era, but if you hang out with her and chill with her, she just like anybody else. That's why it works, because she never says nothing that's crazy in my ears. It's always like, “Damn, I thought you would say that. OK.” That's why we get down, that's why we connected, Martha. 'Cause it feels like holy matrimony, and not holy macaroni.
Do you still go down to Long Beach?
How has it changed since back in the day?
I'm happy for 'em, 'cause it's grown as a city. It's a lot of tourism that goes on down there because of what we done. It's in a different place, Long Beach has moved, ya know, many moons from when I was there, when it was only certain locations that looked like you had money. Now it's starting to look like Long Beach is on the incline, and I think I have something to do with it — even though I never got the key to the city!
Besides Tanqueray what's the perfect party ingredient?
Oh … Pink Panties! [a blended mixture of pink lemonade, gin, ice cream, strawberries and ice] I don't think they make those no more. When I was in junior high school, going into high school, that was the drink that the little hot girls used to make when they wanted to act like they wanted to give you a shot at the title, but they never gave you — they'd make that drink and get you all revved up, and then you wouldn't even get a shot at the title!