Snoop Dogg Claims He Is The Reason Tupac Signed To Death Row

In 1995 and 1996, Snoop Dogg and Tupac Shakur were label mates at Death Row Records. Notably, ‘Pac had made a cameo in Snoop’s 1994 film, Murder Was The Case—which was directed by Dr. Dre. He would also release a hit video single on Above The Rim soundtrack in “Pour Out A Little Liquor.” The working relationship would abruptly halt in September of ’96, when Shakur was murdered in a drive-by shooting, riding passenger with label CEO Marion “Suge” Knight.

Appearing in a two-part episode of the Drink Champs Podcast, hosts N.O.R.E. and DJ EFN began part 2 pressing Snoop about sharing the spotlight with Shakur.” [Tupac Shakur] was my friend, before he got on Death Row [Records],” pointed out Snoop. There, the Long Beach, California superstar revealed a little known fact surrounding the 1995 Source Awards.

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While Dre, Snoop, The Lady Of Rage, Tha Dogg Pound, DJ Quik, Nate Dogg, and Sam Sneed performed a 10-minute medley of label hits from a stage designed prison cell-block, Snoop inserted a cardboard cut-out of Shakur. “He wasn’t even on Death Row, or [being considered as signing with] Death Row; we just did that as a symbol of [our support of] him, ’cause he was my friend. So that was my play that I did to put him in there, and make sure he was represented,” said Snoop. That August ’95 Source Awards would be the same one where Death Row’s CEO and several of its artists vocalized attacks on East Coast artists from teh stage and audience, most notably Bad Boy Records founder/CEO Puff Daddy. In Knight’s famous attacking remarks from the stage, he also stated solidarity to the incarcerated Tupac.

However, even though Knight showed love to an artist who had worked for hire for the label, Snoop was the leading engine in bringing Shakur on. “I’m the reason he was on Death Row Records,” he declared.

Snoop elaborated on that claim. “Speaking with Suge [Knight] after [Tupac Shakur] had gotten shot [in 1994], I had flew to New York like the next day. Shit was goin’ bad for him; he had gotten locked up. ‘Suge, we need to put that nigga with us, cuzz.'” Asked when and where he met Shakur, the Doggystyle Records head replied, “[The] Poetic Justice wrap party was the first night I met him, and we became friends. Actually, MC Breed—rest in peace—was trying to buy some dope. I knew the nigga that knew the nigga, so Breed got some dope from me. Breed and [The] D.O.C. was cool [as was Tupac and MC Breed], and that’s how we all became a circle of friends. Believe it. Real Hip-Hop.” Shakur and Flint, Michigan’s Breed made hit single “Gotta Get Mine” together. Breed would work closely with The D.O.C. at Giant Records. The D.O.C. worked extensively on Dr. Dre’s The Chronic, and Snoop’s Doggystyle albums.

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Snoop would go on to record several songs with Shakur. In the interview, he says that video single “2 Of Amerikaz Most Wanted” was the first. The pair would make others such as another single, “All About U,” which also appeared on All Eyez On Me. Snoop says his friendship with Shakur affected the sound and contents of that album. “When he gets out, I was working on Tha Doggfather. [At this time], my cousin Daz [Dillinger] is like my #1 supplier [of beats], ’cause [Dr.] Dre is not really giving anything up [in the way of] music ’cause he knew he was on the way out [from Death Row Records].” In the November ’96 release of Tha Doggfather, Daz (as “Dat Nigga Daz”) produced just three songs. “Naturally, I tell Daz and the whole [production] crew, y’all give [Tupac Shakur] all the music; get him right first. So he ended up gettin’ all this hot music, ’cause we were in the process of doin’ all this hot shit, and ‘Pac brought a spirit to the studio that was different than anybody we ever worked with. He had a spirit—like this nigga could be in three different rooms at one time makin’ music. He would never listen to it.” Daz would produce five songs on Shakur’s diamond-certified double-album.

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Snoop Dogg exited Death Row Records (as part of an agreement an incarcerated Knight made with Master P and No Limit Records) approximately one year after Shakur’s murder.

#BonusBeat: Snoop Dogg’s complete part one interview at “Drink Champs”:

In this video episode, Snoop discusses Warren G’s saving Def Jam Records, and freestyling at least two Doggystyle album cult classics in one take.