Snoop Explains Why He Loves Suge Knight & How They Rebuilt Their Bond (Video)
Earlier this month, Snoop Dogg released his song, “Let Bygones Be Bygones” from his 17th solo album, I Wanna Thank Me. The 47-year-old Doggfather has been in a nostalgic spirit lately. More than 20 years after parting ways with the label, Snoop has been wearing his Death Row Records medallion, revisiting landmarks, and looking back at his many accomplishments (including his 25-year-old debut album) with fondness.
That particular song (also embedded below) praised Tha Row’s co-founder and former CEO for his vision and believing in Snoop. Suge Knight is presently serving a 28-year sentence for murder at San Diego’s Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility. Ahead of his 2018 conviction for killing music executive Terry Carter three years earlier, many people believed Snoop and Suge made peace. Knight attended his former label’s 2005 Peace Summit. After more verbal jabs, in the era of social media, the pair also appeared together for a 2013 photograph in a club. However, behind the scenes, there was still some bad blood and unresolved matters. In a new interview with Big Boy’s Neighborhood, Snoop reveals further information. It explains why this album, Snoop’s first since 2018’s Christian Rap LP, Gospel Of Love, was the right place to make amends and pay homage.
At 14:00, Big Boy, asks Snoop why he made “Let Bygones Be Bygones” now. “‘Cause there’s been so many different versions of the Death Row story [and] people just thinking that they know what it is and what it was. [There] was some real key figures at Death Row Records. [But] the main figures was Dr. Dre, D.O.C., Snoop Dogg, and Suge Knight. The rest of the pieces to the puzzle were musical. They were talented, they were business-minded, but they wasn’t intricate like [those] I was speaking of. Dr. Dre will never tell his story from Death Row Records. Suge Knight’s story’s already been told, as far as the public’s concerned; they always bash him. Tupac’s story’s been told four or five different times, but he was only on Death Row for [less than a year]. Snoop Dogg is the only one standing that can actually speak some real life and some real truth to what Death Row Records meant.” He adds, “Now, does he bash the label that made him famous? Does he kick the man who helped him when he had nothing? Or, does he put some light on a situation that was a beautiful situation to show people that it was genius what Death Row Records did and we gon’ speak on the greatness, as opposed to the bad times. ‘Cause you done already seen the bad times [in every other portrayal]. What about the great times?”
Big Boy brings up that Snoop has condemned those dissing Knight since he was sentenced. During the late ’90s and early 2000s, Dogg had very real beef with his former boss. “Me and his issues were when I wasn’t at full-strength, but he was. So it makes no sense for me, comin’ from the world that I come from, to ever come at a man when he’s not at full-strength. Then, I love him. I genuinely love Suge Knight. Even when he was after me, I loved him. Because we had a bond [and] a relationship that nobody knew was ours. It was just miscommunication, jealousy, pride, and ego that separated us. But through the grace of God and time, and healing, [we are good]. His first daughter is my [goddaughter]; I’m her [godfather]. With people in your life like that, you can’t just take them out. You can’t just un-love somebody overnight. That’s what I wanted to speak on, and that’s what our relationship was. I just felt like it was time for me to speak on it, ’cause that’s my position. I’ve always been that guy from Death Row Records who was that particular person. I’m the reason why Tupac was on Death Row Records; I told Suge, ‘Go get Tupac.’ I’m the reason that a lot of things happened ’cause I was the one who would always speak up and be like, ‘Nah, that ain’t right. Nah, I ain’t wit’ that!’ Even when Pac and Biggie [were beefing], I told Pac, ‘Nah, cuzz. That ain’t cool. He don’t want none.'”
Apart from Tupac, Snoop’s associations led to his cousin, Daz Dillinger to form Tha Dogg Pound with Kurupt. They would become label stars. Snoop also provided opportunities for 213 band-mates Nate Dogg and Warren G. Snoop is also related to RBX, who was an early artist.
Snoop credits All Eyez On Me film director (and onetime Death Row producer), L.T. Hutton for arranging a meeting. “He put me on the phone with him a couple times [when he was] locked up. Those were some of the funnest conversations I had with him. But, initially, I had met with him one-on-one in a hotel room with him when it wasn’t good—so we could get good. And we got good from there. ‘Cause he seen who I was, and I seen who he was, and we really just loved each other.” Of the more recent phone calls, Snoop says that Knight jokingly reminded him to work out during the ’90s. “That’s something a friend would say. That’s not something your enemy would say. It went from that to, ‘Man, I’m sorry about your mother, man.’ And then he said, ‘Man, that lady loved you.’ It was moments like that on the conversation; it was deep.'” Snoop says Suge gave him the credit for suggesting Death Row post Tupac’s bail in 1995, while the former exec admitted that he was initially hesitant.
Knight’s charitable efforts in his native Compton, California and surrounding areas are often overlooked compared to a reputation for violence, vengeance, and strong-arm business tactics. Snoop says that the 54-year-old former NFL replacement player was virtuous. “Once you get to that zone with him, he’s a good man. When you get to that zone with him; you knew him.” Big Boy, who hosted some Death Row Records releases, including the controversial Suge Knight Represents The Chronic 2000, agrees.
Snoop encourages people to watch Antoine Fuqua’s 2018 Suge documentary, American Dream/American Knightmare. “That’s what made me say, ‘Let me turn the corner.'” The Showtime doc filmed by the Training Day director, features a series of interviews with Knight as well as shadowing him after the loss of his label to bankruptcy. One sequence shows Knight driving through Las Vegas at the site of Tupac Shakur’s fatal 1996 drive-by shooting, and eventually vomiting on the street.
“It was still some bad energy in that too,” Snoop says, regarding Knight making remarks about people. Snoop says that the film shows Knight in the midst of his deep fall from grace, but still holding some power. “No humble pie had been served. But everything was falling apart. Like, if you watch it, he was losing everything right before your eyes. Everything. Even his mind. And even the control of his body.” Snoop points to the vomiting scene.
Big Boy then asks how Snoop avoided what may be easier, to just kick the man while he was at his lowest point. “Because I remember when I was down, and I was dumb, and I was young, and I didn’t know certain things. He was like the best teacher in the world. He was good to me; Suge Knight was good to me. Even as bad as he was to me, he was better to me. I remember the great things not the bad things. He tried to do bad things to me, and he tried to have bad things done to me. But through the grace of God and the way I move, it didn’t happen. Gettin’ with Master P and No Limit, it really wasn’t gonna happen.”
Snoop also says that Suge’s direction at Death Row allowed for rival street organizations to cooperate and collaborate. “When he got us together, we didn’t like each other for five minutes. Then, after that sixth minute, ‘Y’all know we’re together, right?'” Meanwhile, partnerships emerged. Snoop says that one of Knight’s Blood affiliates has remained one of his best friends. “This is how we met!” He adds that while these street figures may have known each other through lockup, sports, and proximity, the label allowed them to truly bond for common good. Snoop says that the Los Angeles Riots helped. “Four-twenty-nine-ninety-two. When that thing happened? That just set Death Row off, because it was the perfect home for that.” Snoop says on that particular day, he crossed paths with Ice-T.
At the 29:00 mark, Snoop admits he is bothered when he is omitted or under-ranked on “Best MCs” lists. He does quip, “I’m not concerned about being on no list but the Forbes list. Now where am I on that?”
I Wanna Thank Me features Slick Rick, Swizz Beatz, and Nate Dogg.
#BonusBeat: Snoop Dogg’s “Let Bygones Be Bygones”: