Snoop Dogg Recorded the ‘Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang’ Demo From Jail
These days, people may be most likely to recognize the musician Snoop Dogg for his multiple commercial appearances, unexpected collaborations with Martha Stewart, or even his very own line of marijuana. At this point, Snoop Dogg’s legendary status as a rapper has almost overshadowed itself as he often appears as something of a caricature of himself for the purposes of sponsorships.
What those who were not around during Snoop Dogg’s rise to fame may not realize is that the rapper’s reputation isn’t just for show. In fact, he was in jail when he recorded his smash hit “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang.”
‘Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang’ climbed the charts
Making your way onto Rolling Stone‘s “Best Song of All Time” list is no small feat. After all, this honor crosses genres and decades and places songs from a wide variety of backgrounds in competition with one another. The 1992 hit “Nutin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” by Dr. Dre has the impressive status of number 29 on the list.
The magazine calls the song “a smooth and inimitable kickback classic that would help define [Dr. Dre’s] career following the demise of N.W.A.” It also featured an artist then known as Snoop Doggy Dogg. Collaborating with Dr. Dre on the 1992 album Chronic helped establish Snoop Dogg’s name in the rap business. When he went to release his own debut album the next year, he was poised for success.
That effort, called Doggystyle, climbed the charts in its own right and kicked off a music career that has gone on for three decades, helping Snoop Dogg acquire a $150 million net worth.
Snoop Dogg was in jail when the song was recorded
Dr. Dre, who is known for his impressive work ethic as much as he is his controversial lyrics, was determined to get the demo done, but there was a problem. Snoop Dogg was in jail at the time.
This more minor bout of incarceration was just one of many visits to the slammer that Snoop Dogg has had over the years, but it wasn’t about to stand in the way of Dr. Dre’s album progress. “[H]e called in and I taped the receiver of the phone to the mic,” Dre recounted. “You can hear jail sounds in the back.”
Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg created a hit collaboration
“Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” became the first single off the Chronic album, and it certainly increased Snoop Dogg’s visibility. As an All Music review of the song explains, “Coupled with his inventive rhymes, Snoop’s distinctive style made him a superstar before he’d even released a recording of his own.”
The song’s content featured signature themes that would define both rappers’ careers: “lyrics that celebrated life on the streets and the amoral toughness it took to survive there.” “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” was also musically complex with samples from “I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You” by Leon Haywood and Public Enemy’s “B Side Wins Again.” The end result was a catchy tune that helped demonstrate Dr. Dre’s staying power in a post-N.W.A. world while serving as an in-your-face introduction of Snoop Doggy Dogg’s signature flair.
Those who went beyond the single and dove into the whole Chronic album were treated to much more of Snoop Dogg’s lyrical talents. The rapper features heavily across multiple tracks on the album. We can assume that once the jail-recorded demo was out for “Nuthin but a ‘G’ Thang,” the rappers were able to make more hospitable arrangements for recording the rest of the tracks.