Snoop Dogg’s manager Ted Chung opened the West Coast rapper’s South by Southwest Music Festival keynote address by confirming many music pundits’ suspicions about the late-announced event. “He was asked to do this at the last minute,” Chung said, “so it’s going to be a very candid conversation.”
A casual conversation with an artist led by his friend and manager is hardly the weighty discussion on the state of the music industry past keynote addresses have aspired to be, but anyone who doubted Snoop’s talk would be popular was wrong. The ballroom where the talk was hosted hit capacity shortly before 11 a.m. and a couple hundred attendees ended up watching in an overflow room.
The conversation was loose and Snoop, who looked charmingly dapper in a houndstooth print oxford, a sweater vest and a navy blue bowtie, was an entertaining subject. It started with the origins of his music career but rapidly segued into his life growing up in an underprivileged section of L.A. in the ’70s and early ’80s. As the political climate in Washington changed with President Reagan eliminating many social welfare programs, Snoop said, there was a dramatic shift in the quality of life in his neighborhood . “Reaganomics came in and we went from having fun and playing football to selling drugs and shooting at each other,” he said.
Snoop is currently developing a drama for HBO along with director Allen Hughes (Broken City) and “Boondocks” writer Rodney Barnes centered around life during that era and the direct correlation between the rise of Reaganomics and the development of gangsta culture in L.A.
Other topics touched on in the keynote included Snoop’s growth into a music industry leader, his new video streaming platform Trapflix.com and his relationship with Pharrell Williams who produced his latest album “Bush” due out later this year. “The Mothership is reconnecting. It’s a ride through the funkosphere,” Snoop said about the record.
He also talked about his relationship with Austin legend Willie Nelson. “I don’t know why people think me and Willie Nelson have nothing in common,” Snoop said slyly. “We both love animals. We love good music. And we love grass.” He went on to tell a hilarious anecdote about how the country music star beat him in a game of dominoes and then went with him on a munchies run to Kentucky Fried Chicken.
The most moving parts of the keynote centered around the Snoop Youth Football League, a passion project founded by the rapper to use football to put inner city kids on a college track. “In the hood, college ain’t cool, but we made it cool,” Snoop said. This year the league placed 21 kids in division I colleges. Snoops son Cordell Broadus who recently signed with UCLA is one of them. He will be the first member of Snoop’s family to go into higher education. “The happiest day of my life was seeing my son pick a school and knowing he’s going to college,” Snoop said.