Somehow, in the midst of these polarizing times, Snoop Dogg has discovered a weird middle ground and has laid claim to it by inhabiting a role that he was born to play: America's Favorite Incorrigible Gangsta—a man with authentic danger in his pedigree who is enough of a comedian to play it to ironic effect and enough of a chameleon that its significance changes according to his audience. There's always the sly sense that Snoop is getting over on somebody, but it's never quite clear who—the mainstream on which he confers street cred from a safe distance or the undercurrent from which he rose.
After all this time and all that chaos, wondering whether Snoop Dogg has kept it real is kind of a minor point. More important is how he keeps getting all those endorsement deals. What's most surprising isn't that he's still representin' for the Crips, but that this hasn't disqualified him from representing some of the world's most prominent business logos.
For the record—which is to say, on his records—Snoop never leaves a doubt. Get a load of how he assures the homies that, for all his fame and riches and crossover appeal, he remains true to the Long Beach neighborhoods around Pacific Coast Highway and Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard:
I´m a Bad Boy, wit a lotta ho´s
Drive my own cars, and wear my own clothes
I hang out tough, I´m a real Bo$$ Big Snoop Dogg, yeah he´s so sharp
On the TV screen and in the magazines
If you play me close, you´re on a red beam
Oh you gotta gun so you wanna pop back? AK-47 now nigga, stop that!
SNOOP DOGG AT THE GREEK THEATRE, 2700 N. VERMONT, LOS ANGELES, (323) 665-1927. THURS., AUG. 25, 7:30 P.M. $35-$70.