There are only a handful of rappers from Hip-Hop’s Gangsta Rap golden era still alive and free to make moves in 2023. Even fewer of them have made the seamless public transition from walking “parental advisory” sticker to mainstream cool guy like Snoop Dogg has.
Snoop, whose music catalog speaks for itself, spent the nascent stages of his career unapologetically money-minded but also in fierce opposition to the systems that keep white men rich and Black men behind bars. But in the last 10 years or so — as the gangsta G.O.A.T. approached and passed his 50th birthday — he reached a point in his career many rappers don’t get to see: caricature.
His penchant for getting high has been a signature part of his public persona. But, as evidenced by his admiration for and business dealings with queen WASP Martha Stewart, Snoop is clearly no longer only rubbing elbows with his early career peers. And why should he…? Everyone deserves to evolve.
It’s why when Snoop cryptically announced on X/Twitter Nov. 16 that he planned to “give up smoke,” everyone dialed in for what was sure to be his newest evolution. “Please respect my privacy at this time,” he urged in the post.
Days later, we now know it was all a marketing ruse to sell the most suburban of accoutrements: smokeless fire pits.
While I can’t criticize Snoop’s ability to market himself this late in his career, not all bags are created equal. On the eve of the 30th anniversary of his classic debut “Doggystyle,” which dropped Nov. 23, 1993, Snoop risked years of hard-fought trust and street cred going up in smoke over a bait-and-switch ad when he could have instead highlighted how much smoking is indeed harming African Americans.
Smoking marijuana can lead to lung damage, and there’s a possibility – albeit still inconclusive – that it can lead to an increased likelihood of lung cancer as it does with cigarette smoke. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have concluded that Black men have the highest rates of developing and dying from lung cancer. That includes me. And that includes you, Snoop.
All it took was the illusion that Snoop was giving up smoking to make a difference: Meek Mill went out on a limb in support of him and shared via Instagram: “Ima go to Dubai and completely stop smoking…ima follow snoop, my doctor said I got a lil bit emphysema in a chest if I don’t stop smoking it cuts my lifeline in half, I was addicted to the nicotine and this new weed got too many chemicals and too risky to play with my mental!”
“Players” rapper Coi Leray pledged in her Instagram story to quit smoking “starting Monday,” before changing her mind with “Ima quit after Thanksgiving.”
Influential Black celebs were motivated by Snoop’s announcement to come forward with their struggles to quit smoking; even though his quality of life will improve, Meek is now being clowned for the perception that he was tricked by Snoop’s pledge. And with climate change and rising COVID-19 infections affecting everything from mental health to education rates across the country, why is it wack to want to live longer and better?
One can only imagine the effect Snoop could’ve had if he leaned into that “give up smoke” announcement with a Black-centered call for us all to do better when it comes to our relationship with smoke. His team knew exactly the kind of impact he would have if he seemingly gave up smoking for a noble cause. Instead, we were treated – or cheated – with an April Fools gag very late in the year.