Whether riffing about his beloved Lakers (“We can come back; we’ve got a nice bench with depth”) or “my auntie”/Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner co-host Martha Stewart (“We’ve got this great buddy-buddy thing on- and off-screen”), Snoop Dogg is always an entertaining interview. In this particular instance, the aforementioned comments are colorful byproducts stemming from the main attraction: a recent chat at the rap icon’s Los Angeles compound about his 20th studio album, I Wanna Thank Me. It’s the follow-up to his No. 1 gospel album, 2018’s Bible of Love.
Released today (Aug. 16) Doggystyle Records/Empire, I Wanna Thank Me borrows its title from Snoop Dogg’s viral acceptance speech after receiving his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. The 22-track set boasts a wide-ranging tally of writer/producer collaborations and guest cameos that includes DJ Battlecat, Jazze Pha, Swizz Beatz, Swae Lee, Chris Brown, Mustard, Jermaine Dupri, Anitta, Ozuna, YG, Slick Rick, Trey Songz, Russ, Rick Rock and Wiz Khalifa. The project is also accompanied by a same-titled visual, part one of which is linked below. Part two will drop on Monday (Aug. 19).
I Wanna Thank Me steers its way from social consciousness to fun through tracks such as “Countdown,”“So Misinformed,” “One Blood, One Cuzz,” “I C Your Bullshit,” “Turn Me On” and the set’s new single release. “Do It While I’m in It” featuring Dupri, Ozuna & Slim Jxmmi. One of the most moving moments on the album is the track “Wintertime in June” featuring Snoop Dogg homie Nate Dogg.
“That particular song took about a year and a half to write because I would always cry, just hearing him sing,” says Snoop Dogg of the song. “I couldn’t catch the groove on this. So I brought in James Fauntleroy to write it. He came and sat next to me, put me in a pocket and coached me … and there you have it.”
What was your creative mindset going into the studio?
It's like I'm always filling a void. When I make music, I feel like it's needed because there's nothing like it that's already out. With this particular project, I was thinking to myself, "Where do I fit in the rap game?" I ain't that young, fly rapper no more. I'm like a great uncle to a lot of these rappers now. They’re sending me songs and trying to be a part of this too, so I’ve got to welcome that because they’re the future. They’re the ones who control the game right now. And for them to want to do records with me keeps me relevant, keeps me still in the realm when young kids hear my voice instead of “Who is that old-ass man rapping?! He needs to sit down somewhere with a cane, rest in peace.” Hell no to the no no no!
I also have to educate, elevate and innovate all at the same time. So that was the perspective going in as far as picking the music, making sure the rap selection was right, making sure that the people I collaborated with as far as writing understood what was going on and bringing in Battlecat to mix like 90% of the record because there was a sound, a frequency I was looking for that he knows how to get. And I had to make sure that all the producers understood that Battlecat ain't fucking your track up, he’s fucking your track up! You know what I'm saying?
Why is the unity message in the track “One Blood, One Cuzz” so important now?
After Nipsey Hussle passed away, a lot of gang members that hadn't talked in 30, 40 years came together. They really loved each other as friends, but through all the madness and ignorant bullshit they could never get any conversation going. It's like when the [Los Angeles] riots happened in 1992 and we later made The Chronic. That’s what this track is like, the same feeling. I wanted to have a record that can unify people based off of a tragic event that can lead to some positivity and peace. We all need to be together now: Bloods, Crips, black people in general. The guy talking on the track is in jail doing life for killing people. It’s like why get peace and understanding when you’re in jail when you could get it on the streets? How about trying this shit out right here, before you're forced to do it?
And what inspired “So Misinformed”?
I just got tired of this racist ass president. I wanted to make a record that wasn't just saying what I just said but provide education and some thought on what's happening right now and how we need to be changing the thought process: as a race in general, how can we be better people to each other? We’ve been misinformed, led the wrong way to think that we're always supposed to clash. But we're really supposed to love each other. So I painted a picture of what would it take to get my people to connect together? Not you’ve got this or that but we’ve got this and that. What I’ve learned as far as music is concerned? If you paint death, you get death. And if you paint life, you get life.
From “Misinformed,” about life and being black, to songs like “One Blood …,” “Let Bygones Be Bygones” … this song connects to this song connects to this song and then to the spirit of the album. I need listeners to be connected. And as you go down the line, you can pick and choose what you like such as the Chris Brown record. But at the beginning, I need you to know that there's a message behind this project. I have a platform and I should never just misuse it. A lot of times we do because we get so caught up in being braggadocious about what we’ve got. What about the motherfuckers who don't got nothin? You’ve got to lift them up too.
Is a sequel to Bible of Love in the works?
We’ve got Kim Burrell lined up. Anytime you hear gospel, you can't fake that feeling. And you can't find that feeling anywhere else. To close your eyes and hear somebody singing, then you're crying tears of joy because of that feeling? I can never close my eyes to that music.
Any thoughts on turning 50 in two years?
Before rap, 50 was young as a musician. But once rap came in there was a cap on the age, like you can only be 30 and then you're considered old and washed up. Nah … LL Cool J, Ice Cube, Will Smith, there's a lot of brothers who penetrated that world and diversified their portfolio by doing things other than rap. But rap is their foundation. And I wear it well. I got my OGs like Ice-T and Dr. Dre who look good at 50. They let me know that I can roll with it and do what I’ve got to do.
After 20 albums, what still keeps you hyped about music?
I love the way that good music feels. Even if it ain't mine, I just love how that shit feels. But when it's mine it feels even better [laughs] because I'm able to do it. I've made projects before that weren’t good, but they felt good to me. And that's all I give a fuck about. I don't care about this sold 8 million,100,000, 22,000 or 17. Who cares? If you ain’t doing it for the feeling, you're doing it for the wrong reasons. You should never be doing it to make money or become famous. That isn’t what this game was built on. Anyone who's ever been successful or a megastar? They love this shit first and foremost, more than anything.