Snoop Dogg’s “I Am Hip-Hop Award” Acceptance Speech Shows Why He’s An Icon (Video)

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It’s hard to believe that Snoop Dogg, an artist who has been a pop-culture icon for decades, holds the record for most Grammy Award nominations with no win. Seventeen times, the Long Beach, California legend has been up for such an award, but he has yet to take one home. Nevertheless, the contributions he’s made to Hip-Hop are vast, deeply influential, and certainly not measured by the number of trophies he has on a shelf. That’s why his receiving the I Am Hip-Hop Icon Award at last night’s (October 4) BET Hip Hop Awards ceremony was so monumental.

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As reported by Ambrosia for Heads last month, Snoop Dogg’s decorated career of 14 solo albums and his influence in the way Hip-Hop looks and speaks were just some of the accomplishments that made him an obvious choice for honoree. Last night, Heads witnessed an example of cross-generational appreciation as Hip-Hop icon-in-the-making, Kendrick Lamar, introduced one of his idols, calling Snoop “my big unc’, my OG.” After a video package featuring words from Dr. Dre, YG, Pharrell Williams, Charlie Wilson, Snoop himself and others rolled, it was time for the Doggfather to make a speech, and it was a historic and emotional occasion.

In his opening statement, Snoop tells the crowd that he’s not the sentimental type, but that he is profoundly moved to see so many of his peers there to celebrate his legacy, an outpouring of respect “I didn’t strive for,” he says, adding “I just strive to make music, to make people feel good, and to get off my expression.” After thanking BET for allowing him to be himself as an artist, Snoop then addressed “all of the young rappers in the game right now,” reassuring them with messages of support. “A lot of people don’t understand y’all, and y’all misunderstood. They didn’t understand me in the beginning, either. So you gotta keep pushin’. Stay who you are. Be original. Be diverse.” He gives them advice that only one with decades of experience can, saying “as a young artist, you gotta always be who you are, ’cause at the end of the day, you gotta live with who you are.”

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It’s clear the veteran is proud of where the culture stands today, despite so much attention being spent on a so-called “generational divide” in Rap music in the media and elsewhere. “I love where Hip-Hop is going,” Snoop says. “I love how y’all takin’ it all across the world and how y’all are uniting people. See, what people don’t understand is that music is the universal language of all people. So this is the way for us to come together.” In one particularly memorable moment, Snoop Dogg explains that he’s happy to “not be some old, bitter rapper who’s mad because the young MCs is havin’ it.”

Heads can check out more of BET’s coverage of Snoop Dogg’s I Am Hip-Hop Award nomination here, which includes a timeline of his extensive career and more.