20 Years Of Doggystyle: A Chat With The LP’s Opening Voice, Lady Of Rage

News

/ November 23, 2013

Twenty years ago today, when anxious listeners rushed to grab Snoop Dogg’s debut album Doggystyle, the first voice that they heard rapping on the record was an unexpected one. It wasn’t Snoop or Dr. Dre or Kurupt or Daz Dillinger, it was Lady of Rage. The Virginia-bred MC moved West after Dre heard her on a different project and gave her the opening slot on the most anticipated debut rap album of all time with a solo track of her own, “G Funk Intro.” After signing to Death Row and working on classics like the Murder Was The Case soundtrack, the Above The Rim soundtrack — which housed her highest charting hit, “Afro Puffs” — and The Chronic, she released her solo debut Necessary Roughness (originally called Eargasm) in 1997 with production from DJ Premier, Easy Mo Bee and Daz Dillinger.

We spoke to Lady of Rage to hear about how L.A. has changed since Doggystyle came out, how she felt having the first verse on the album, and the different ways that Snoop and Dre would work in the studio.

How did it feel to have the first verse on Snoop’s debut album?

Snoop’s album was the most anticipated album at the time, so everyone’s expecting to hear Snoop Dogg on the first track, and instead they heard me. I don’t know why Dre did it, but I also do know why he did it. It was a set-up. After The Chronic it was gonna be Snoop, so the next artist in line whose album was going to be released would be the first artist on the current album. That was the set-up for me. I was very pleased and excited. It was one of the biggest highlights of the album to me.


When you were recording with Dr. Dre and Snoop for Doggystyle, did you know at the time that it was going to be the classic that it became?

No, I think at the time we were just working on that moment. We were feeling the energy and the passion, so we just wanted to put down the best possible thing and leave an impression on the listener’s mind and other MC’s. I wasn’t thinking that for myself, I can’t speak for anyone else though.

What do you remember about recording with Dre and Snoop at the time?

Hmm….I know Dre is kind of meticulous with everything he does. Everything has to be on point. Snoop is more off the head, so whatever the beat dictated, he would just come in and freestyle. He was more laidback and easygoing. Dre was more demanding, and he didn’t have to demand much from us because we were so on point with what we were doing, he didn’t really have to sweat us that much to up the ante or up the bar. We were really hungry and passionate, so it just all blended in together and it was a perfect mixture of all MC’s involved.

Do you remember recording any songs that didn’t make the final version of Doggystyle?

Not for Doggystyle. We’ve done other things that didn’t make releases for The Chronic and other things. But everything we did for Doggystyle pretty much made it, at least everything I was involved in made it. It could have been some times when I wasn’t there and songs were done in the studio but didn’t make it. To my recollection, everything was pretty much on there.

What do you remember doing for The Chronic that didn’t make it?

It may have been the Deep Cover soundtrack, “And It’s On.” It was me and Snoop and Dre I think. It didn’t make the album but I think it was released on something else because I heard it.

You also recorded with 2Pac for your first solo album, Necessary Roughness. Did you two record anything else in the studio together?

No, we didn’t do anything else musically. He had an album coming out called A Nation of Millions coming out that he wanted me on.

Being around Snoop and his gratuitous use of “bitch” and “ho,” did you ever feel conflicted as a woman?

No, I didn’t take it personally. You have bitches and hoes, you have all types of women, you have all types of men. You have some men that are bitches and hoes. I didn’t take it personally.

How did you wind up recording with Snoop?

Well I’m from Virginia. I was living in New York at the time and I was working with the L.A. Posse and also Chubb Rock. I did a few songs on this compilation album with the L.A. Posse and they’re from California so when they got back to Cali they let Dre hear the finished product. Dre heard me and asked how to get in touch with me, and they gave him my information. He called me and told me he was getting a new label together and wanted to know if I wanted to be a part of it. I said, “How do I know you’re Dr. Dre?” He said there’s only one way to find out and he sent me a ticket. That was that.

Do you feel like the West Coast has changed since Doggystyle dropped?

The album has definitely made a mark on the rap game. It brought a whole new sound, it was an introduction to the G-Funk era and that whole West Coast sound. The West Coast had been slept on for quite some time, and N.W.A. and Ice Cube and Yo-Yo and other artists. When Snoop came along, it was just something different. He had a different sound and people tend to gravitate towards what’s new, so he was like a breath of fresh air.

How do you think Dr. Dre’s production style has changed since Doggystyle?

I don’t know if it’s changed much. I don’t think Dre really had a set way of doing things. With some things he would use certain instruments and you can tell that it’s a Dre beat. I think he’s pretty much stayed true to the formula, if it’s broke don’t fix it. I haven’t really heard anything new from him since Slimm The Mobster and I think he’s basically in the same realm as what he started out with.

Be honest with me, was Snoop writing all of Dre’s verses back then?

I have no clue, you’d have to ask him that.