MTV News' New West Week might be shining a spotlight on L.A. newcomers, but the rapper any rising Cali MC must pay homage to is Snopp Dogg.
Since his debut on "Deep Cover" with Dr. Dre, Snoop has achieved multiplatinum success and status as a hip-hop icon, utilizing his talents off the mic as an actor and executive too. The man born Calvin Broadus has always lent a helping hand to MCs making their way in the rap game, especially those hailing from his home coast.
"As far as the New West or the young MCs out here on the West Coast, I'm very familiar with them because they call me Uncle Snoop," Snoop told MTV News. "So more than likely, they come get my blessings on a record, or through mutual friends we connect with each other, because I always keep my ear to the streets and I always love being a part of what's new and fly representing the West Coast. I've always been one to try to put that on the forefront, so I keep my ear glued to the street when it comes to these new acts from the West. I try to be a part of their projects and a part of blowing them up."
Not all the L.A. or Cali rap legends have been as welcoming to new talent as Snoop Dogg. Nevertheless, this new crop of MCs take cues from their rap elders but still manage to carve out unique lanes for themselves. Getting a featured verse from Snoop may give relatively unknown rappers a dose of visibility, but they don't come cheap, easily running into six figures. The West Coast rap legend is willing to give new jacks with minimal recording budgets a deep discount, if he respects their music and hustle.
"When you doing those types of situations, you building relationships and you building trust in a community that doesn't have no trust right now," said Snoop, who in some cases has waived his fee for a hot 16 bars entirely. "To me, that means more to me to be able to go back and give these artists a shot and not overcharge them and try to rob the bank and say, 'Give me what I'm worth.' Nah, let me give you a shot, because if we playing team ball and I'm from the West, you guys are a part of my team."
Snoop's dedication to maintaining strong relationships with his peers — veterans and rookies — has paid off, since he has managed to remain relevant in a fickle hip-hop industry throughout a career that spans almost 20 years. While the last major MC to break through from Los Angeles is the Game, Snoop has also appeared on songs from local up-and-comers like Glasses Malone, Nipsey Hussle and YG, to name a few.
"The artists are more courageous and more death-defying. They like taking chances," Snoop said of the recent surge in Cali-repping artists, who MTV will be featuring throughout the next week. "In the past, we would wait for radio and wait for other labels to get behind us and support us. But now you got artists being individually strong on they own and going straight to the Internet, creating songs and dealing with the fans one on one, cutting the middleman out. When you get those views on the Internet, sometimes to me that means way more than a record sale. Because you got people stopping they day to pay attention to you and see you do their thing in a real way."