Snoop Lion, also known as Snoop Doggy Dogg, was born Calvin Cordozar Broadus to Beverly Tate and Vernell Varnado in Los Angeles, California on October 21, 1971. Named for his adoptive stepfather Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Sr., Snoop was nicknamed “Snoopy” as a child by his mother who thought her son resembled the character from the classic Peanuts comic strip.
Snoop began rapping in middle school and, after graduating from Long Beach Polytechnic High School in 1989, he formed a group named 213 (the area code for Long Beach at the time) with his friends Warren G (Warren Griffin) and Nate Dogg (Nathaniel Hale, 1969-2011). During this time Snoop was also loosely associated with the Crips, a Los Angeles street gang, arrested on cocaine possession charges, and spent time in and out of prison.
Dr. Dre, of the West Coast “gangstarap group N.W.A., became aware of Snoop through his step-brother, Warren G. Dre was impressed enough with Snoop to feature him on his first solo release following his departure from N.W.A., the title track to the film Deep Cover (1992). When Dre released his debut solo album The Chronic </i (1992), Snoop emerged as the star of the record.
Snoop’s performances on “Deep Cover” and The Chronic bred high expectations for his own debut album, Doggystyle (1993). Produced by Dr. Dre, the album featured what was becoming known as the “G-Funk” sound, made up of multiple samples from “P-Funk” records by rhythm and blues artists such as George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic. Doggystyle was certified platinum multiple times, reached number one on the Billboard chart and produced two top-ten singles (“What’s My Name” and “Gin & Juice”).
While Snoop was recording Doggystyle in 1993, he was arrested and charged with murder after his bodyguard McKinley Lee shot and killed Phillip Woldermarian from the passenger seat of a car Snoop was driving. In the aftermath of this incident Snoop made a short film and released an accompanying soundtrack called Murder Was the Case (1994). Snoop pled not guilty on grounds of self-defense, claiming that the victim was a rival gang member who had been stalking him. With attorney Johnnie Cochran leading the defense, both Snoop and Lee were acquitted in 1996.
Snoop’s second album The Doggfather (1996) also reached number one despite the absence of Dr. Dre, who had left Death Row Records in a contract dispute. Snoop would also depart soon after the death of his friend and label mate Tupac Shakur in late 1996, signing with New Orleans-based No Limit Records. He has continued to release successful records and has collaborated with numerous artists such as Justin Timberlake, Katy Perry, and R. Kelly.
Snoop has developed an acting career spanning two decades. He has well over a dozen movies to his credit, including roles in Training Day (2001), Starsky & Hutch (2004), and Scary Movie 5 (2013). Snoop has also made guest appearances on numerous television shows and starred in his own reality series. In 2012 Snoop announced that he had experienced a spiritual awakening at the hands of a Rastafarian priest in Jamaica and came away with a new stage name, Snoop Lion.
Snoop married his high school sweetheart Shante Taylor in 2007. The couple have three children, sons Corde (born 1994) and Cordell (born 1997), and daughter Cori (born 1999).