Suge Knight Talks Doggystyle 

Former Death Row CEO reflects on Snoop Dogg's debut 20 years after its release. 

Posted: 11/26/2013 11:54 AM EST
Suge Knight, Doggystyle

Snoop Dogg's Doggystyle LP was more than just a debut, it was a game changer. Released November 23, 1993, Doggystyle spawned classics like "Gin and Juice," "Who Am I (What's My Name?)" and "Aint No Fun (If the Homies Can't Have None)," which not only helped put Snoop on the map, but aided in Death Row Records' reign over '90s West Coast music. 

In commemoration of the release's 20th anniversary former Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight spoke to Rolling Stone about putting the project together. "We were able to make sure [Snoop] didn't go to prison to make the album," he said of recording Doggystyle. "We only had one song done, and then after that it was the [Philip Woldemariam] murder case and the trial. When we got ready to start the trial, $5 million had to be paid to a legal team. And at the time Snoop never sold no records.

"Jimmy [Iovine], Interscope, those guys were saying they're not going to participate in trying to help keep him out of prison, because they didn't think they were capable of doing it. Because of the simple fact that it was a murder case. If he would have got found guilty, he'd have died in prison. He'd have been there the rest of his life."

Snoop of course didn't end up doing a life term and turned his legal woes into the record "Murder Was the Case."

Like the aforementioned track, Doggystyle was a reflection of real life, sonically inspired by R&B and soul music."My family, that's all we grew up on was those oldies," Knight explained. "So it wasn't nothing for people on the West Coast to take ideas or concepts from those old records and make them into hits. Even Snoop, his folks are from Mississippi also. People from the South, they was buying 45s and 33s, they was playing those albums… that was a big influence on every record on Death Row."

Later in the interview, Knight clarifies Dr. Dre's involvement in Doggystyle (claiming that Daz Dillinger "pretty much did the whole album" but gave Dre all the credit), explained the label's significance during the L.A. riots, and somewhat ended his longstanding yet seemingly one-sided beef with Snoop. "My relationship with him is where it's supposed to be. It's respectful on both ends. I could never turn around and say I hate this mothaf----, because he's a part of my life and I'm a part of his life."

He even threw in a compliment stating, "Snoop is an artist that is a great artist. So it's good to give him his props about how great Doggystyle was."  

  

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(Photos from left: Michael Bezjian/WireImage,Death Row Records/ Interscope)

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