Have a Yourself a Doggy Doggy New Year
If the Fates Allow. Pour Some Gin and Juice Up On the Highest Bough…
By Matt Blank
By the time this article runs it’ll be a few weeks late for Chinese New Year, but we here at Hapa Mag felt it our obligation to do something. Besides, who among us doesn’t enjoy a good laugh about “being on Asian-Time,” thereby joining all of the other cultures who, for some bizarre reason, claim chronic tardiness as their own as if it were something to be proud of.
Full disclosure in case you haven’t skimmed the Staff page: we’re a little low on Chinese people over here. The publication is heavily Japanese-dominated at the moment but, as history has shown, that never lasts very long (too soon?).
With my countrywoman Autumn busy tending to her newborn quapa child, I thought I’d step in and put together a little Gung Hay Fat Choy jam for all you ladies and gents. And yes, we’re spelling it like that because my people are from the village and speak that good, old, creamy, sexual Cantonese.
Much love as well to my Mandarin-speaking brothers and sisters, especially… well… everyone I grew up with in Cupertino. While you’re livin’ large, riding that Google Bus back and forth to Mountain View, I sit here in my tiny Manhattan studio thinking up dick jokes for zero money. But I digress… and so we’re kickin’ it Cantonese-style at this moment
As has been previously established, my family is big on tradition and equally big on the practice of half-assing all said traditions. As such, this time of year always meant exactly two things to me:
1. Boxes and boxes of nasty fucking mooncake that wasn’t asked for and nobody would eat.
2. The ubiquitous red envelopes that would come in the mail from various Aunties you could barely remember, usually containing a $2 bill and a few nickels. We, of course, weren’t complaining and were annually reminded (by currency) of the importance of respecting and celebrating our elders. A legit lesson, and a winning proposition for everyone involved. To this day, if I find a ripped-up “hung-bao” envelope chilling out in a closet at my mom’s house, my fingers instinctively rifle through it as though seeking change in a payphone coin slot. And if any of my Aunties are reading this, you’re my favorite! Miss you! Send more mooncake!
As far as precious childhood memories, aside from being kicked out of Chinese school in San Bruno when I was 7-ish, that’s pretty much all I have. I did live in the heart of New York City Chinatown for 13 years, starting at age 21, but that’s a tale best left for another time.
But, my well-scrubbed friends, this isn’t just any Chinese New Year. This just so happens to be my time: Year of the Dog! Such an event only rolls around once every 12 years. To our non-AP Calculus readers, that means I’ll be turning the age of 12 or 24 or 36 or 48 or 60 or 72 this year. I defy you to guess.
In the spirit of welcoming the Year 4716 (we got an early start for once) and wishing everyone a jubilant Year of the Dog, here are
(in no particular order):
My 12 Favorite Things Related to Snoop Dogg:
1. “Lodi Dodi” from Doggystyle
As a young lad of about 9, my primary exposure to music had been tons of Broadway cast albums and the necessary handful of old Funkadelic records. I was drawn largely to musical theatre due to the fact that it told a story, which allowed my undiagnosed ADD mind to stay interested in a song for its duration. When we got our first CD player, which weighed about 50 pounds and probably cost $400, I was allowed to choose a few albums for my first “batch.” For one reason or another, this collection consisted of Jagged Little Pill, The Sign, Siamese Dream and Snoop’s debut album Doggystyle. While perhaps a display of questionable parenting, these four discs blew my musical world wide open. I was particularly drawn to this baptism-by-fire introduction to hardcore rap. What I loved in particular, aside from the naughty language and imagery, was Snoop’s ability to tell a story just as vividly as any great showtune composer. There is no greater example than this track, a tribute to Doug E. Fresh and Slick Rick’s iconic “Ladi Dadi,” which portrays a day in the life of one Snoop D-O-Double-G. I have very clear memories of Snoop performing it on SNL and being outraged by the necessary lyric changes made to create a TV-friendly version. Not an easy task, in retrospect.
2. “Who Am I? (What’s My Name?)” from Doggystyle
Even if you weren’t a gangsta rap fan at the time, chances are that this was the one song from the album you recognized. The first single released from Doggystyle, this “intro-meets-anthem” enjoyed a ton of (edited) radio play and was repeated around the clock on MTV, back when MTV played music videos. An early example of G-Funk, combining the “Gangsta” lifestyle with 1970s funk beats. My early exposure to Parliament and the like surely played a role in my immediate love of what Snoop and company were laying out there.
3. “Soul Plane”
Laugh all you want, this movie was fucking incredible! The 2004 comedy gave us young Kevin Hart, Method Man, Loni Love, John Witherspoon, Karl Malone AND the one and only Snoop all on one screen. There are many out there who might claim it was a terrible movie. I’m not calling these people racists... but I’m not saying they aren’t racists.
4. “EFF GRANDDAD” FROM THE BOONDOCKS
Not one to shy away from his natural comedic talents, Snoop lent his voice several times to the work of genius that is Aaron McGruder’s Boondocks. Most notably he contributed the hook to the iconic Thugnificent single “Eff Granddad,” the “first ‘dis record against somebody’s family member.”
5. “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” from Dr. Dre’s The Chronic
The first time most of of us ever heard his smooth vocal stylings was as a featured artist on this beloved track from Dre’s 1992 album. Dre shared the bill with the then-21 year old Calvin Broadus, rapping in tandem over a funky sampling of Leon Haywood’s “I Wanna Do Something Freaky To You.” Little did we know at the time, this young pup was doing something very freaky to all of us.
6. “Plizannet Earth”
This ongoing “Jimmy Kimmel Live” segment saw the Doggfather narrating a series of animal documentary videos. Need I say more?
7. “The Shiznit” from Doggystyle
It’s clear that my the majority of my favorite Snoop tracks come from the same album. Perhaps I’m stuck in the past. Perhaps it’s because I went into a heavy NWA/Les Miz phase for the next few years. Or perhaps this album was just...well… THE ABSOLUTE SHIZNIT! This tune is the epitome of cool, sampling both Billy Joel’s “The Stranger” and Parliament’s “Flash Light.” While Dr. Dre, as producer, deserves much of the credit for this track, it would be nothing without those silky Doggy vocals. And let’s be real, these lyrics are FIRE:
"Gotta take a trip to the MIA
And serve your ass with a motherfucking AK.
You, can't, see, the D-O-double-G, 'cause that be me.
I'm serving um, swerving in the Coupe
The Lexus, flexes, from Long Beach to Texas.
Sexist, hoes, they want to get with this
'Cause Snoop Dogg is the shit, bitch!"
8. EVERYTHING he did with Martha Stewart
At some point in time, an unlikely bond was formed between Snoop and notorious homemaking maven Martha Stewart (who, interestingly, has spent way more time in jail than her “gangsta” co-star). With countless appearances together on TV and radio, their partnership culminated in the VH1 series Martha and Snoop’s Potluck. You can find all of this shit on YouTube, but right now I want us all to focus on this clip: Ghost. It was magical.
9. “Gin and Juice” from Doggystyle
And for the sweep, one more track from the same album. I admit, I have a fairly thin relationship with the full breadth of his music catalog. I’m happy to take emails from readers who want to share their favorite Snoop jams! But who can deny this instant classic? Perhaps the rapper’s single best-known song out of more than a dozen full-length albums. Has there ever been a greater depiction of a single, kickass party? So great a love song for sedatives and females? So memorable a use of antimetabole? You’ve heard it a million times. You’ve heard the various covers. You love it. So now, as we enter a new Lunar New Year, pour yourself some Tanqueray and take a moment not just to listen to the message this man is sending out... but to really hear and experience Snoop in his prime.
10. The Official Snoop Dogg GPS on TomTom
Remember TomTom? TomTom was a thing that people bought before their phones had built-in GPS. Back before the days of Google Maps and whatever the fuck Apple uses, you would buy a separate TomTom device that would tell you how to get places. An enterprising company by name of VoiceSkins allowed you to purchase celebrity voices to navigate your journey: and who better to entrust with the safety of your ride than Mr. Dogg? This idea never really took off, as other technology quickly rendered the standalone TomTom device obsolete and stupid-looking. The company still seems to be going strong, via its partnerships with Apple and Uber. Voiceskins, however, no longer appears to exist in any meaningful way as evidenced by the placeholder now living at voiceskins.com. What remains, is the valuable time and money wasted on the above clip.
11. Snoop Roasts Donald Trump
Whatever your politics may be (c’mon, I know what your politics are), who doesn’t love a good roast? This is some really strong material but, in the interim, that 2015 joke about Trump running for President has become more depressing than amusing. Don’t blame Snoop!
12. The Time I Crashed the Set of a Snoop Dogg Video
OK, full disclosure. The entire reason I did this was so I could casually mention the fact that I was in the same room as Snoop this past summer. My buddy C-Tru was recording the music video for “California Party,” on which the legend was a special guest. Passing through town en route to Long Beach, I had the pleasure of chilling out in a crazy Beverly Hills mansion for the afternoon, watching the magic, and enjoying the “refreshments.” I didn’t get a proper pic with Snoop but he did toss me a sensible “Sup cuz?” as we passed each other in the hallway. I later got to hop on the set and do my best Snoop impression.
So, I guess that’s all the Doggy Dogg time we have for right now. Happy Year of the Dogg. Be kind to each other. And if you’re out on your bike tonight, do wear white.
Matt Blank is an arts journalist, educator, designer and lecturer. He most recently spent a decade on the editorial team for Playbill.com and as Editor-in-Chief of PlaybillArts.com, publishing over 7,000 articles and covering five Tony Award ceremonies. Follow him on Twitter @MattBlankPlease and Instagram @brdwymatt.