at an early age by his family in recognition of his distinctive appearance, award-winning hip-hop artist Snoop Dogg grew up much as he lives today, embracing contradictions. Born Calvin Broadus, Jr. in Long Beach, Calif., he loves football and was enamored of the television drama "One Life to Live" (he eventually made cameos on the show), and yet he joined the Crips while in high school and served a short time for drug possession while still a teenager.
But the real story was music - and there was always music. Snoop is said to have begun singing in his Baptist choir back in the sixth grade and his success in music stems from an innate talent for manipulating rhythm and lyrics which is no doubt enhanced by his appreciation for collaborators and their skills. Given the breadth of his collaborative record, he clearly possesses the ability to work well with others and the wisdom to work with the best.
From the start, his skill as a rapper and entertainer brought him attention from Dr. Dre, who took him under his wing at Death Row Records. Within a few years, Snoop Dogg released several records and had paid his dues with Death Row. He continued to do the same after signings with Priority/Capitol/EMI and Geffen Records. Snoop emerged from his first decade with a strong hip-hop career. From there, he further cultivated his weed-friendly, pimp persona, the marketing cornerstone of an entertainment empire than would grow to include not only music but television and film.
Snoop is all about business, but the "gentleman gangsta" always makes you chuckle. He is into everything, but it's important to remember that the persona of Snoop is always the common denominator. He entertains, but he is tireless and consistent - in fact, not only did Snoop star in his most recent film, Mac + Devin Go To High School (co-starring Wiz Khalifa), he also produced it. Snoop is always cool, funny, and, at least onscreen, always ready to smoke up or hit on the ladies.
Today, Snoop Dogg is one of the entertainment world's most identifiable personas. His real-life escapades rival those of his dramatic characters and make interacting with him and his camp an endless adventure; following his schedule during the preparation of this cover story, we realized, based on news reports of his brief "substance-related" detainment by Norwegian officials, that on a given trip he is as likely to be screened by Customs as he is to show his passport to Immigration. His dramatic characters speak for themselves. He was cast as Blue, the snitch in a wheelchair playing against Denzel Washington and Ethan Hawke in the crime drama Training Day; he played Huggy Bear (need we say more) alongside Ben Stiller and Owen Wilson in the theatrical release of Starsky & Hutch; and he has reinforced his gentleman gangsta image with cameos in Soul Plane ("Captain Mack") and as himself in Sacha Baron Cohen's comedy, Bruno. These are just a few mainstream highlights in his diverse film career, which say nothing of his numerous hip-hop and rap awards. Snoop is the instantly recognizable and lovable rascal who straddles two worlds - one he describes as "Hollywood" and the other as simply "the hood."
Two decades after Snoop Dogg broke into the public consciousness, he has released his own cigar line, Executive Branch, the real-life company that enjoys a fleeting logo placement in the film Mac + Devin Go To High School. Snoop stresses that his Executive Branch line is a serious business that means a lot to him.
"Executive Branch is the gentleman's choice," Snoop explains. "And 'like a gentleman' is the only way to smoke. As the world's most famous smoker, I felt it was my duty to bring only the finest to the market and that's what this is all about - giving the cigar aficionados a new flavor to savor. I'm putting out a classic Executive Branch Ultra Premium Cigar with the finest blend of Central American and Dominican tobacco. The new Kingston is real fly. I was able to taste quite a few different samples and I feel like the flavors we picked are really nice, something my friends and fans could really enjoy. It's shaped like a cone so it hits like a champ... perfect draw! We came up with the name on my most recent excursion to the islands."
To do it right, Snoop says, "I felt like I had to start with a product I'm familiar with...something I'm an authority figure on. So, I started with Executive Branch cigarillos and Snoop Dogg Rolling Papers. I smoke a lot of cigarillos and roll plenty of my own 'cigarettes'...heh-heh. I know a slow burner is always the best option so we made an easy-to-split, slow burning cigarillo with subtle flavors that compliment and bring out the quality of the tobacco.
Snoop's appreciation for cigars and tobacco goes beyond just knowing what he likes and what he wants his friends and fans to enjoy. Like his music and film projects, he's all-in and intimately involved with the production.
"I look for a variety of things in what I'm smoking," Snoop says, "flavor, burn, heaviness, etc. We worked to find a good balance and since the tobacco was some of the finest from the DR and Central America, I think it came out great. I was blown away with the quality and how each employee in the EB factory showed their enthusiasm and skill when rolling the cigars. It excited me to know that we could bring that craftsmanship to the market for others to enjoy."
And for Snoop, enjoying a cigar means relaxing with a cigar. "When I smoke after a meal, it's my time to relax and spend time with the people I care about the most," he says. "I like to drink a nice red wine with my cigar and be in good company - so best believe there are lots of jokes and laughing. A good cigar can really enhance those types of situations. When I'm at home, I have my 'man cave' that I like to spend time alone in and smoke to reflect - Jah Bless! Honestly, though, I'm a real workaholic. I'm always in the studio, always being creative. Always."
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