I have written before about Long Beach rapper, musician, and all-around local lover Snoop Dogg’s “return home,” that is, his self-reflection in later life that has prompted the creation of things that are seemingly out of the ordinary for a kid who was raised in the epicenter of local gang life during the late 80s and 1990s.
He’s gone back to church with a gospel album, he’s returned to the LBC stage after a lengthy and politically influenced hiatus, he’s gone to the kitchen for a television show (and scored an Emmy nomination) with Martha Stewart, and he’s even got a stage play coming out depicting his roller-coaster of a life, and he’s written a cookbook.
And surely, while these endeavors and achievements are worthy of praise, his philanthropic work is what perhaps goes most unnoticed in Snoop’s career. When I say Snoop is a lover, I genuinely mean that: Many don’t know of his annual turkey giveaway in Central Long Beach that often took place right outside the former VIP Records shop where his career was founded. He has his own youth football league that not only allows kids to play a sport but have a mentor with someone who understands their lives from personal experience.
He can now add music mentor to that list after Snoop, in conjunction with a grant from Levi’s, took on the YMCA Youth Institute in Downtown Long Beach, playing with a fully functioning music studio that was created by Vince Staples and Levi’s back in 2016. Bringing in a powerhouse set of producers—the Grammy-winning 1500 Sound Academy—and sat down with a handful of budding Long Beach musicians last week to listen to their skills, help them hone those skills, and perhaps most importantly, let them know that their lives have worth.
“We didn’t have a center like the Youth Institute when I was learning to make music,” Snoop Dogg said. “We just had imagination. I’ve always wanted to do something in Long Beach to help the kids that are cut from that same cloth as me. There’s a room full of greatness right there… Long Beach breeds greatness—that’s just what it is.”
This project is particularly important to Snoop in that these are not only kids who faced the same struggles Snoop did while growing up—few know that Snoop, along with fellow friends Warren G, Nate Dogg (RIP), and Nate’s cousin Duke Givens all wanted to join the Army after high school to bring some order to their lives; Givens, the man who eventually photographed much of Snoop’s early career, was the sole friend who made it while the other three were forced to face a violent and unstable Central Long Beach life—but it allows him to teach the peripheral life skills that creating music taught him,
“Yeah, music taught me that I can multitask, that I didn’t have to just be the best or the dopest rapper, that I could be the best businessman, too,” Snoop said. “I could be the best football coach and the best father. I could be the best at whatever I wanted to be. I just had to put my mind to it.”
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