Snoop Dogg Revisits Donny Hathaway’s “Little Ghetto Boy,” With His Daughter, Lalah (Video)
A recent match-up between Snoop Dogg, Lalah Hathaway, Terrace Martin, and Robert Glasper is a glorious collaboration which in many ways was thought of years ago. Hathaway, the daughter of the late Soul icon Donny, has released an updated version of her dad’s 1972 classic, “Little Ghetto Boy.” However, it’s not Snoop’s first time on a record of that name. He can be heard on Dr. Dre’s seminal 1992 album The Chronic in several songs, most notably here for track seven, “Lil’ Ghetto Boy.” Heads may also be familiar with the song title from Wake Up!, the collaborative album between John Legend and the Roots in which the senior Hathaway’s rendition is given the cover treatment. It’s also not the first time Ms. Hathaway and Glasper have collaborated; the two won the Grammy for Best Traditional R&B Performance with Malcolm Jamal-Warner and the Robert Glasper Experience in 2015 for their song “Jesus Chldren.”
Ms. Hathaway’s take on “Little Ghetto Boy” incorporates elements of her father’s version, but the verse from Snoop gives the song a contemporary feel, not only in terms of sound but also in lyrical content. He opens his first verse by lamenting “Woke up, jumped out my bed/CNN: another Black brother dead,” referencing the ongoing turmoil as a result of the deaths of African Americans at the hands of police and gang violence. It’s also a nod to his very similar opening bar on Dr. Dre’s version, in which he mentions waking up in a two-man cell with his homie Lil 1/2 Dead. It’s a darker, more socially critical side of Snoop than he’s known for, which lends much more gravity to his words. Featuring images of Black men and women coolin’ on street corners, taking part in protest rallies, and going about their daily lives, it’s the latest material in an ever-growing canon of music inspired by today’s political and social climates. The song – whose titled is shortened to just “Ghetto Boy” – is powerful on its own, but its video brings a visceral element to the message behind it. With young, teen-aged Black boys staring solemnly into the camera, there is a poignant reminder that on any given day, their own names could become the newest hashtag. Everything has got to get better.