Snoop Lion Spends Our Cash!

With his mind on our money and our money on his mind, the West Coast rap icon is ready to make it rain.

With his mind on our money and our money on his mind, the West Coast rap icon is ready to make it rain.

Photographed for Maxim by Ture Lillegraven

It’s a chilly Monday night in L.A., and as our red Cadillac cruises down Sunset Boulevard, what started as a fun night out with the artist once and forever known as Snoop takes a decidedly scary turn. “I’ma switchblade your fuckin’ ass!” yells the driver. “Shut the fuck up!” His name is Joe Cool, and unfortunately the guy he’s talking to is me. The guy sitting next to me is Snoop. That Snoop. The Snoop who was born Calvin Broadus Jr. and has gone variously by “Doggy Dogg” (’90s), “Dogg” (aughts), and “Lion” (present day). Snoop seems to be enjoying the situation. Me? Not so much.

Photographed for Maxim by Ture Lillegraven

The night begins significantly less stabbily, as team Maxim heads out into the SoCal night with Snoop, Snoop’s entourage, and $848 of Maxim’s money for him to spend as he pleases. First on the agenda is a shopping spree. Where does a superstar rapper head to clothe himself? Rodeo Drive? A private showroom on Melrose? Think again. 

Nestled in a strip mall between a Quiznos and a hair salon, T-Shirts Plus has all your favorite flea-market offerings, but in a 10th of the space. Snoop’s been coming here for years, and as he arrives—his 6’4″ frame bedecked in West Coast “Dogg” chic (checkered flannel shirt, baggy jeans) as well as his reggae-tinged “Lion” incarnation (white Rasta cap, jewel-encrusted lion medallion)—his fellow customers react as you’d expect: They freak the fuck out. 

Photographed for Maxim by Ture Lillegraven

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Joe Cool steps in to keep the crowd in check, and Snoop gets to work. Singing Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” to no one but himself, he rifles through clothing racks until a black jacket catches his eye. “That’s what I need. That’s the shit.”

“What about this Kobe shirt?” He asks the little Asian shop owner, affectionately referred to as “Ma,” to remove the No. 24 Lakers jersey from a display case. The first two purchases come to $108 even. “She only charged me $100, though! We got love around here,” says Snoop. “They treat me like this is my home. When I come in here, I can shop in peace.”

Love and peace are the order of the day, since Snoop releases his first reggae album, Reincarnated, on April 23. A documentary of the same name, which follows his recording session in Jamaica—as well as his spiritual conversion to Rastafarianism—is in theaters now.

Photographed for Maxim by Ture Lillegraven

Not that the West Coast’s most iconic rapper is trading in the LBC for Trench Town. “It was more about me thinking about what I wanted to do on my next project. It’s where I wanted to be, and physically, mentally, spiritually, where I felt I needed to be.” It’s the kind of about-face an artist can afford when he’s sold 30 million albums worldwide. As for the religious turn, he won’t even try to rationalize it. “You gotta ask Rastafari. It’s not me; the spirit is what it is.”

On the way out of T-Shirts Plus, Snoop snaps pictures with about a dozen fans—one of whom casually rolls him a “thank-you blunt”—and makes two cash-in-hand impulse buys: a backpack for $20 and a pair of green Levi’s for $40. He tries to buy some boxers as well—“Come on, Ma. We gotta make a deal about these drawers over here”—and she rewards his patronage with the greatest gift a man can get: free underwear. Snoop smiles. “You know I love you. Be good, Ma. Until we meet again.”

Photographed for Maxim by Ture Lillegraven

The next stop on our itinerary is sup­posed to be a medical-marijuana dispensary a couple of miles away, but since Snoop isn’t a “plan” kind of guy, we take to the street for some community outreach. “I ain’t been down here in a long time,” he says. According to Snoop, before superstardom made it impossible for him to cross the street without being swarmed by fans, this block was part of a regular three-mile walk he and Warren G made to the studio. Now he comes through exclusively by car, but he can’t help but notice those in need. “Can never stop to pass out nothin’ to ’em, because I be so fast on the move. But now I can. Maybe somebody needs a little somethin’ to eat.”

The next thing we know, Snoop steps out and, to no one’s surprise, is immediately mobbed by well-wishers…or at least those looking for a handout courtesy of their friendly neighborhood rap star.

Photographed for Maxim by Ture Lillegraven

After Snoop’s doled out a stack of twenties, the next recipient of his largesse is a dude named Rollo who has just stepped off the bus. From prison. “This man right here is exactly out of jail!” announces Joe Cool, indicating Rollo’s paper jumpsuit. “This is what they give you when you get out! Straight paper!” Rollo beams at his unlikely first human contact on the outside. “How much they give you when you get out?” asks Snoop.

“They didn’t give me damn nothin’! Two bus tokens.” Snoop pulls out his wad again and hands Rollo a couple of twenties. Incredulous, the free man shouts, “You da shit, Do—” He almost says “Dogg,” but stops. “Hey, I gotta ask. Did you switch it to Lion? Or is it still Dogg?”

For a moment the world listens. “I’m still the Dogg. But the Lion is what I make reggae with.” Ah. “Hey, Cool Joe. We fin’ to shake, rattle, and roll.” And we’re off.

At least we’re supposed to be. But Snoop scraps the original plan again when Stu, a giddy employee from a dispensary across the street, invites us inside.

Having Snoop in your weed store is akin to having Wolfgang Puck over for dinner—after all, if there were a Mount Rushmore of marijuana, Snoop would be right up there with Willie Nelson, Bob Marley, and the Dude. You can tell Stu is enjoying it. “Twenty-one or over, right, sir?” he asks with faux authority. Snoop plays along: “Yes, sir!” 

Once inside, Snoop takes in his sur­roundings: display cases full of sticky, icky greenery; other cases loaded with all manner of bongs, pipes, and vaporizers. Snoop, a guy who smokes upward of 80 blunts a day, puts his face to the glass like the little match girl, gushing in a Steve Urkel voice: “Oh, wow-w-w-w!” 

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Stu makes two suggestions, Skywalker and Yoda. After some sniffing, eyeing, and otherwise assessing, Snoop puts down $400 on Skywalker, and before I know it, he’s fired up a blunt.

Having taken his “medicine,” and now sporting a shorter cash stack, Snoop hops in the back of the Caddy, ready to spend the rest. What does he want to do? “Let’s head over to Skid Row and make it rain. That’s what I think I’ma do.”

En route Snoop fires up the car’s stereo. After a few hip-hop tracks, the music changes to an ambling, old-timey melody fit for a Victrola. “That’s my favorite song right there,” he says. Is this a sample? Some strange new underground genre? “That’s the theme song from The Little Rascals!” Of course it is.

Snoop’s favorite character? “Spanky or Alfalfa. Buckwheat was a muthafucka, too.” At the mention of Darla, Alfalfa’s perpetual crush, Snoop breaks into a spot-on impression of Alfalfa’s off-key serenade: “ ‘I’m in the mood for lo-o-o-ve /  Simply because you’re near me!’ He ain’t never get no pussy. Goddamn, Alfalfa, you better get some pussy sooner or later, if you in the mood for love.”

And this is when things get weird. 

The second car in our caravan has fallen behind, and I get a call from our pho­tog­rapher asking if Joe Cool can pull over so they can catch up. I make this request, and Joe ignores me. So I ask again, a little louder. This time I get a response, but not the one I was expecting: “Can you shut the fuck up?!?” While driving with his left hand, Joe Cool reaches into the center console with his right and flips open a switchblade.

“I’ma switchblade your fuckin’ ass!” He waves it at my face, getting closer with every swipe, until he plunges it straight into my thigh. I shoot my leg up and make a sound no grown man should ever make, as Joe Cool and Snoop both crack up. I look at my leg. It’s fine. With some sleight of hand, Joe had flipped the blade in at the last second. “That’s about as playful as security gon’ get witchu,” he laughs. Then, deadpan: “When you get up, I want you to wipe the seat.”

Though it’s only a joke, the incident is a reminder of Snoop’s gangsta roots. Snoop Lion delivers a message of peace, but Snoop Dogg’s known past associ­ation with the Crips still takes a day-to-day toll. “You see how he’s speedin’ through this ’hood?” he asks, noting Joe Cool’s driving. 

“This shit is off-limits for certain muthafuckas. And we are certain muthafuckas.”

Emotionally exhausted and ready to spend the rest of this damn money, I can confidently call myself one of the few people who has ever been happy to see Skid Row. Tents line the sidewalks, trash spills into the street, and storefronts are shuttered. Snoop compares the scene to Night of the Living Dead.

We see one man rolling a blunt and another pushing all his belongings in a wheelchair. People are loitering in the street like it’s an extension of the side­walk. It’s almost as if you shouldn’t be driving here. Surprise! You shouldn’t be.

Snoop’s plan is simple: Find a large group of people, throw the rest of the money in the air to “make it rain,” and disappear. Because, as Snoop says, “It’s gonna be quick, fast, and it ain’t safe.”

We stop, Snoop gets out, and before I can open my door more than an inch, money is in the air, and the car is mobbed. “Get off! Get the fuck off the car!” Joe shouts as Snoop jumps back in and the crowd swarms. It’s like Beatle­mania, but with far worse personal hy­giene. “Joe Cool, just leave!” yells Snoop. “Get in the car and drive!” Joe is finally able to wrestle his door closed, and he slowly parts the crowd with his car as we breathe a collective sigh of relief.

“Goddamn, I didn’t expect that one, Snoop!” says Joe Cool. Snoop soothes, “That was a groovy move. You straight. That’s exactly what I wanted.” The shock of the moment subsides, and I notice something: In all the commotion, a dollar must have fallen through the cracked window. I hand it to Snoop. Pensively, perhaps disappointed, he whispers, “Damn, I only spent $847…” 

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