‘Star Stories With Touré’: That time Snoop Dogg told me about his side hustle as a pimp

OPINION: My new podcast, "Star Stories With Touré," gives you some of the craziest stories I've lived through.

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

I’ve spent a few decades in music journalism getting to interview all sorts of hip-hop and R&B superstars, and I have a few great stories. My new show, “Star Stories With Touré,” is an animated vision of some of my best stories. You’ll see me playing basketball with Prince, playing poker with Jay-Z, watching Kanye’s meltdown and getting kidnapped by Suge Knight. Insane stuff. One of my favorite stories wasn’t insane as far as what we did, but when the conversation took a certain turn, well, you’ll see. It starts when I was in Snoop Dogg’s house.

Actually, it starts a little before I got to his house. I was doing a cover story on Snoop for Rolling Stone magazine, but I had interviewed him before so we already had a rapport. So he had me meet him at football practice. He had started a football league for 9- and 10-year-old kids in Southern California — the Snoop Youth Football League — to give them a chance to learn football and have something fun to do. Snoop was also the coach of one of the teams, and I saw him lead the kids through practice with all the seriousness of Nick Saban leading Alabama through practice. He was all about giving everything he had to those kids. He was the father who wanted to help take care of all the kids in the county. It was beautiful.

“Star Stories With Toure” featuring that time Snoop Dogg talked about his time as a pimp. (Screenshot via theGrio)

After practice ended, we got in his two-seater Porsche, and on the highway, he steered with his knees while he rolled a blunt with his hands, which was a bit nerve-wracking but I didn’t say anything about it. He drove me to his house, which was a very normal civilian-looking California ranch house. The Brady Bunch might have lived there. If I drove you to his house and told you a superstar lived on this block, you would not think that was the place. But, to the point, I was at Snoop’s house. In 20-plus years of interviewing people, I haven’t been to that many homes. Most stars don’t take journalists home, but Snoop was comfortable with me, and he trusted me, and he wanted me to see how normal his life was.

I remember walking through the living room where his three sons were sitting on the couch watching cartoons. He said, “This used to be mine.” Like, that room used to belong to him but they had taken it over. The same thing so many middle-aged dads might say. I was really getting a sense of Snoop as a family man, a loving dad and a fairly normal guy away from the stage. He was that for sure, but then I asked one unexpected question and the portrait of Snoop changed completely.

We walked through the living room and out the back door. A few steps away from the main house, he had built a small house that was a little man cave. There was one big-screen TV and one two-seater couch with just enough room to accommodate Snoop and me. And there was one life-sized photo on the wall. We watched footage of the pee-wee football team that his boys were going to play in a few days. He already knew the tendencies and running style of the 12-year-old running back who was the star of the other team, so as he watched footage of the boy running the ball in prior games, he told me what to expect from him. I could tell he was deeply invested in this football league. But then things turned.

I looked at a photo on the wall. It was Snoop at a party wearing a suit and a huge mink, and he was alongside Diddy who was also wearing a suit and a huge mink. They were bookending a much shorter, older Black man who was also draped in a mink. Aspiring music journalists take note of what happened next. What will distinguish your work is when you ask questions that are relevant but no one else has asked. For example, I once did a Rolling Stone cover story on Beyoncé, and while I was around her, I noticed that her assistant had the name Beyince (yes that spelling) tattooed on her wrist. I said, “You have her name tattooed on your wrist?” She said, “No, that’s my name.” Her name was Angela Beyince and she was Beyoncé’s cousin, which led to me saying, “Wait, what?” Then I spoke to her mother, Tina Knowles, whose birth name was Tina Beyonce (yes that spelling) There was a typo on her birth certificate so her last name ended up spelled differently. Then she used her last name as the first name for her first daughter. And I would not have gotten that story if I had not been able to ask questions no one else had asked. 

So what did I ask Snoop? I looked at the picture of Snoop and Diddy, and I said, who’s the other guy? This was a prominently placed photo that clearly meant a lot to Snoop. I had to ask about it. Snoop said the other guy was his father-in-law. Back in the ’70s, Snoop said he was the biggest pimp in Long Beach. Oh really? That led to a conversation about Snoop’s recent history as a pimp. In the years prior to our interview, back when he was with No Limit Records, he had moved into pimping. He talked about the girls and the Players Balls and making it in the pimp world. He was very successful, he said. He never once hit any of his girls, he said. He was kind of detached a bit from his family for a time, he said, until a few of the older pimps told him, OK, you’ve done your time here. Go back to your family. 

This was at a time when I had been married for a few years, and I kind of understood the responsibility that comes with being in a marriage. Aspiring journalists note: Don’t be afraid to ask questions that relate to your real life because, I said to myself, if I ever did anything like that my wife would leave me. So I asked Snoop, why did your wife stay with you through all of that? He said: I already told you. Her dad was a pimp. She was used to the life. She didn’t love Snoop dabbling in it, but she had been through it so she understood it. Snoop and Shante remain happily married to this day after more than 25 years together.

Snoop had brought me into his world, that of a family man who was going deep into family life, but because I asked the right questions, I realized that he was doing that as a way of bouncing back after a few years of living on the wild side.

For much more of this awesome story and some other awesome stories with Prince, Jay-Z, Kanye and others, check out my new show, “Star Stories With Touré.”

Touré, theGrio.com

Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of the docuseries podcast “Being Black: The ’80s.” He is also the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is the author of eight books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter.

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