In the Doghouse

Snoop Dogg: New Name, New Outlook?

August 7, 2012

Snoop LionRap superstar Snoop Dogg claims to have recently experienced a spiritual awakening in Jamaica while making a reggae album and converting to Rastafarianism. Under the new moniker "Snoop Lion," the artist says he is tired of rap and wants to make reggae music that even "children and grandparents can listen to." Evidently, he now wants to be a positive influence on the African-American community as well: 

"I'm a natural leader…when I do right it makes people around me want to do right. When I do wrong I can make a nation of people do wrong."

Grandiose, sure, yet probably on the mark. Snoop and his music have an enormous influence on youth--especially African-American youth--who are already specifically targeted by the alcohol industry with a variety of tactics. Songs such as Snoop's "Gin and Juice" contribute directly to the overexposure of youth of color to alcohol promotion. Snoop also serves as the spokesperson for Blast by Colt45 (Pabst), an alcopop with 12% alcohol by volume in one single-serving, 24-ounce can, the equivalent of nearly 5 drinks.  

Snoop's Blast ads and promotional materials clearly target young African-Americans and associate alcohol use with wealth, attractiveness, and power. And Pabst wouldn't pay for such advertising if it didn't work: Youth exposed to alcohol ads are more likely to drink, and to drink more once they've started; those who drink are more likely to develop alcohol dependence as an adult. Youth in markets with greater alcohol advertising expenditures drink more as well.

Snoop Lion renounces guns on his new album because of the tragic effects of gun violence in the community. But what about the multitude of harms from alcohol in that very same community? African Americans suffer disproportionately from alcohol-related disease and violence, and alcohol contributes to the three leading causes of death among African-American youth: homicide, unintentional injuries, and suicide. Maybe Snoop's next release will mention alcohol-related harm instead of brands.

Regardless of which name he's using, Snoop has a responsibility to his community. We hope he's serious about making a commitment to his community and not just staging a marketing ploy. We also hope his new spiritual awakening will shine some light on the harm he contributes by associating himself with alcohol products and dangerous drinking behaviors.

Snoop Lion: If you want to be a positive influence and a "natural leader," stop taking money from Pabst and hawking alcohol products that hurt youth. They have to be alive in order to buy your music.