Sometimes, to get the full story, it helps to go back to the beginning. Picture this scene; it's Southern California at the turn of the 90s. The exact timeline is difficult to pin down but the basic facts are these:
- 1988: N.W.A.’s ‘Straight Outta Compton’, produced by Dr Dre, drops an album that pushes the boundaries of hip hop, announces the sound of West Coast sound and gangsta rap to the world, and makes the group superstars.
- 1991: After spiraling relationships between the group, and following Ice Cube's departure, the group disbands.
- 1992: Dr Dre records his debut solo album with Death Row records, The Chronic, which becomes the second classic album with his name attached. The album heavily features the rap talent of Calvin Cordozar Broadus Jr, aka Snoop Dogg, and is widely considered to be one of the most important rap albums in history, in addition to selling over five million copies.
As the next three decades would prove, Snoop was only just getting started. He would go on to become a household name and one of the biggest names in hip hop, as evidenced by our rundown of the wealthiest names in hip hop. But in such a varied career, that has covered g-funk, taken on a brief reggae reboot, and even delivered a gospel album in 2018, how do we pick the best?
Because of Snoop's recent decision to pull Death Row's catalog from all streaming services, we've decided to base this list on Youtube views. This might be viewed by some as a controversial choice, so please do let us know if you'd like to have your say on the matter. Having said that, these numbers are hard to argue with, and the songs on this list go a long way to explaining just why Snoop is such a household name, and also prove that he's the undisputed king of the feature.
#10 Akon – I Wanna Love You
Youtube views: 351 Million
This could be considered a classic Akon cut if such a thing exists. Vocal modulation, Casio keyboard drum beat, and some romantic interest. Check, check, check. Released in 2006, it's the kind of club and radio-friendly, non-threatening, hip hop and R'n'B crossover that absolutely dominated the charts around that time. The album that this was taken from, Konvicted, was Akon's commercial peak with this and follow-up single ‘Don't Matter’ both reaching #1 on the Billboard charts. This single, in particular, was huge, selling three million units alone.
But what about Snoop? Well, Akon must have known he was on to a good thing, or thang to be accurate, with the Doggfather on his track because, unusually for a feature, Snoop gets two verses, one of which is the opener. The rapping itself is unforgettable, layering his trademark flow and West Coast slang with some pretty basic 'come and catch me in the hotel' lyrics over a washy track. But, as we always say, it's hard to argue with the numbers.
#9 PSY – Hangover
Youtube views: 358 Million
Hoo boy! From the possibly demented mind that absolutely monstered Youtube and had people doing that weird gallop-dance thing all over the world in 2012 with Gangnam Style, comes this...
From the opening, high-tempo, looped lyric break 'hangover, hangover, hangover-over-over, bend-over’, followed by a mangled, modulated saxophone loop no less, it's clear that this Hangover from 2014 is going to be something. This is a party track that follows the maxim more is more. Much more, in fact. It’s the sort of song that feels like the producers couldn't decide which beats or breaks to pick, so they just used them all.
For the first minute or so it's hard to see where Snoop might fit into this track at all, or whether they just hired him to mean mug in the video. Then the fog of the track lifts a little and, bizarrely, Snoop goes hard. This is Snoop in full-on party mode and some of his lines are excellent. 'Smokin' like a broken stove' is particularly funny. We have no doubt that he could have absolutely phoned this in, cashing in on Psy's k-pop celebrity and taking home enough cash to fill a decent-sized vault, but he absolutely crushes both of his verses. In fact, the only thing that spoils this feature is the slightly odd decision to repeat his entire second verse twice.
Released two weeks after Gangnam Style surpassed two billion views, the music video is, frankly, insane. We can't possibly cover it here, but just know that it's well worth it if you have a spare five minutes.
#8 50 Cent – P.I.M.P. Snoop Dogg Remix
Youtube views: 520 Million
This one probably goes back to Snoop's long-standing relationship with Dr. Dre, whose ability to unearth, improve and promote talent is arguably the foundation of his career. It's no exaggeration to say that 50's first major-label album, after his mixtape had reached the ears of Eminem and Dre, 'Get Rich or Die Tryin' was an absolute monster, crushing the charts on its release in 2003 and selling over nine million copies to date. That the third single taken from the album was shipped as a remix prominently featuring Snoop, alongside members of G-Unit, is a testament not only to Snoop's relationship with Dre but also to his wider standing in the game. World domination was already pretty much assured by the time this single dropped, following 'In Da Club' and '21 Questions' which had both topped the Billboard Hot 100, but adding a little sprinkle of Snoop never hurt anyone.
As for the song itself, it's a classic. In pure rap terms, it may not be the most lyrically or stylistically inventive, but sometimes it isn't about reinventing the wheel, it's just about rolling with it. Those steel drums, that hook, that laid-back drawling delivery; it's a near-perfect club tune. In terms of Snoop, well, we all know he's fond of spelling out his name, and it's fair to say he took the 'P-I-M-P' lyric to heart and ran with it. The start of his verse sounds something like a spelling and grammar lesson before he settles into the groove. This is an example of a group of absolute powerhouses at the peak of their commercial power. You can almost feel the confidence and swagger through your headphones.
#7 Dr Dre – The Next Episode
Youtube views: 561 Million
Another classic Dre and Snoop collaboration dropped as the third and final single from '2001', the long and eagerly awaited second album from Compton-born mogul, Dr Dre, following 1992’s 'The Chronic', which heavily featured Snoop. On a first listen with no prior knowledge, you could be forgiven for thinking this was a Snoop Dogg track featuring Dre, rather than the other way around, as the first half of the song belongs solely to Snoop: ‘Dadadadada, it’s the one and only D-O-Double-G’, etc. Like 'P.I.M.P.' three years later, this song serves to show that, as much as Snoop's modern image is not far away from the goofy, cuddly uncle of rap music, his reputation across the genre and the respect he has earned from his peers is absolutely no joke.
To say ‘2001’ was a big album is, at best, an understatement and, at worst, an insult. Selling over ten million copies since its release in 1999 the album is notable for featuring Snoop on four tracks in total, one of which *spoiler* we might take a closer look at later. It catapulted Dre back to the top of the game, cementing him as a household name with a new generation of hip-hop fans and laying the foundation for everything he would go on to achieve subsequently, including becoming hip-hop’s first billionaire in 2014.
#6 Wiz Khalifa – Black and Yellow (G-Mix)
Youtube views: 577 Million
Proof, if ever it was needed, that all you need for a hit is three words that get stuck in your head. ‘Black and Yellow’ (black and yellow, black and yellow, black and yellow) is barely a song, just a series of noises and vowel sounds that space out a repeated and unstoppably catchy hook until its long enough to call it a song before it just gets bored and wanders off. 'Black and Yellow' is what would happen if you taught a Twitter bot to program a beat and mumble some lyrics. We would be tempted to file this one under 'business savvy' from the Doggfather, as the original 'Black and Yellow' release spent a huge 26 weeks on the Billboard Hot 100 and went platinum less than a year after its release.
Further adding to the impression that this was maybe, just maybe, more of a commercial opportunity for Snoop than a creative one, is the fact that his feature is, well, not much of a feature. You could probably be forgiven for getting to the end of the song and forgetting exactly what Snoop had contributed. To be fair, as one of Snoop's fellow hip-hop legends once said, you can't knock the hustle, and Snoop certainly never has.
#5 Katy Perry – California Gurls
Youtube views: 642 Million
What was that we were saying about commercial opportunities? Confession time, we have never once made it through this song. We also have our potentially unwise suspicions that the accompanying video might have more to do with the absolutely massive hit count than the song itself. Other than a couple of references to Snoop in Katy's lyrics, a welcome to the song and some half-hearted repetition of the word 'California' from the man himself, he doesn't actually appear on the track until two and a half long minutes in, at which point he mentions some place names in California and calls Katy his lady.
However, we like to remain as objective as possible here at Ledger Note, and while we maintain that this is nowhere close to being one of the best Snoop Dogg songs, you cannot argue with the numbers. And they are huge. Alongside the nearly two-thirds of a billion Youtube hits, there are also 8 million single sales to back this one up, so we are absolutely sure that any criticism we could muster of this song's artistic merit would never worry Ms Perry and Mr Dogg.
#4 The Pussycat Dolls – Buttons
Youtube views: 661 Million
Another unashamed pop feature to further the impression that Snoop can sniff out a hit wherever it might be. The platinum-rated 'Buttons' was released in 2006 as a single from the group's album ‘PCD’ and could well be described as a solid slice of R’n’B/Hip-Hop crossover with the raunch dialed up. The song pits Snoop against all six Pussycat Dolls, and yes there are several cat and dog references, as the girls look for someone who can do the unthinkable; to shut up and get on with getting down. Snoop, in full Doggfather bravado mode, is quick to suggest that he is just that man, and is even nice enough to name all six of the group members in the course of his lyrics. It's fair to say, if you're at all familiar with the group, that that's not particularly common.
The thing that sets ‘Buttons’ apart, preventing it from being another mid-decade throwaway single, is the production; a collaborative effort with no less than five producers sharing credit for the middle-eastern flavored dance rhythm that underpins the song. The song as originally released charted fairly poorly, spending 17 weeks floating around before someone turned to the secret ‘smash glass for Snoop’ box that is almost certainly installed in every record executive in America’s office and the song rocketed up to third. The big man can, and will, rap on absolutely anything and make it work.
#3 Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa – Young, Wild and Free
Youtube views: 686 Million
Another hook-up between Wiz Khalifa and Snoop Dogg, proving the success of ‘Black and Yellow’ was no fluke. This one finds the Doggfather in full fun-uncle-Calvin mode. He even refers to Wiz as his ‘nephew’ in the video, while advising him as to the necessity of relaxing to rooftop golf, no less. This is probably the most wholesome song on the list, invoking the joy and simplicity of youth because, although this is hip-hop, there are many, many more women in bikinis than you may otherwise expect for such an innocent message. Bruno Mars is also credited with a feature, contributing his sunshine-in-a-bottle vocals throughout.
The song was featured on the soundtrack to 'Mac and Devin Go to Highschool', a film starring the two rappers in an ‘odd-couple taking on the world’ story where, from the looks of it, Snoop Dogg instructs Wiz in the finer arts of smoking lots and lots and lots of cannabis. We can probably assume that Snoop's dedication to getting into character for this role would make Daniel Day-Lewis raise his eyebrows. The song, it's fair to say, is incredibly popular, rated six times platinum by the RIAA and has garnered over a billion streams on Spotify.
#2 Jason Derulo – Wiggle
Youtube views: 933 million
Getting towards the top of the list, and towards truly frightening numbers of hits on Youtube, is one of the few men in music that could be said to enjoy saying their own name as much as our man Snoop; Jason Derulo. This is almost as simple as a hit song gets. The kind of unfussy hook that you could imagine sending other producers into a rage spiral because they didn't think of it first, and a very simple lyrical premise. You see, these guys like big butts, and they have no intention to lie about it. You'd be hard-pressed to make an argument for this being one of the best Snoop Dogg songs in terms of his hip-hop catalog but, as with so many of the songs on this list, it sold by the truckload and proved that he could operate alongside anyone.
Despite its almost universal popularity, ‘Wiggle’ didn’t exactly impress critics, even making Time magazine’s list of worst songs of 2014, ruined apparently as soon as a ‘discount store recorder’ begins to play at the start of the song.
#1 Dr Dre – Still D.R.E.
Youtube views: 1.1 billion
Yeah, we did mention we might come back to this one. The only song on this list to break the billion views mark, this song has been blowing up speakers and snapping necks for twenty-three years now and is still absolutely irresistible. As soon as the keys-string combo kicks in on the intro, there is absolutely no question of what time it is. Laden with references to Dre's early career, from his debut album ‘The Chronic’ to his discovery of Eminem, this song is a calling card plain and simple, and also sort of sounds like an extremely funky resume. Next time you get an hour or two to spare, see if your own career highlights sound this good over a drum beat.
As for Snoop, this is frankly an odd feature. He's on hype man duty more than anything else and arguably doesn't actually rap at all, although his spoken word outro about, you guessed it, that sticky-icky, is undeniably the sort of thing that would run the risk of sounding silly if anyone else tried it. It's fitting that this song is the number one; it's the perfect demonstration of the fact that what Snoop does better than absolutely anyone else in the game is just be Snoop Dogg, and that's just why we love him.
These are the songs that fall just outside the top ten on our Youtube based list:
#11 - SƠN TÙNG M-TP - HÃY TRAO CHO ANH ft. Snoop Dogg
Youtube views: 252 million
A tropical party anthem if you ever heard one, Snoop Dogg shows up on this Vietnamese singer's beach-front soiree and fulfills his contractual obligation to mention Long Beach and dips.
#12 Lil Dicky – Professional Rapper
Youtube views: 227 million
Comedian, actor and rapper Lil Dicky has collaborated with several rappers throughout his career. This song is effectively Snoop interviewing Dicky. Long story short, Dicky wants you to take him not taking rap very seriously, extremely seriously. Make sense?
#13 Snoop Dogg vs. David Guetta - Sweat
Youtube views 222 million
The Doggfather goes all EDM. It's absolutely horrible, enough said.
#14 Snoop Dogg – Drop It Likes it's Hot
Youtube views: 217 million
Snoop got the Neptunes treatment, and Pharell turned that annoying thing your little cousin learned to do where he clicked his tongue all through a movie and caused an argument into a hip-hop beat. Because of course, he did.
#15 ARASH – OMG
Youtube views: 217 million
Another stop on Snoop’s world tour, Snoop lands in the Middle East this time, and by all accounts is struggling to get his head around a club full of ladies.
And there we have it, a run down of the biggest and best Snoop Dogg songs, through the lens of Youtube hits. We encourage discussion here, as you know, so please get in touch to debate the finer points of Psy's back catalog or Katy Perry's post-modernist approach to pop. We'd love to hear from you. While you're here, why not check out our list of the best hip-hop producers of all time or richest rappers in the world, as you'll find many of Snoop's contemporaries and collaborators on there. In the meantime, if the mood takes you, do feel free to put one in the air for the West Coast.
Top 10 Best Snoop Dogg Songs
|Position||Song Name||Musician||Youtube Views|
|1||Still D.R.E.||Dr Dre ft. Snoop Dogg||1.1 Billion|
|2||Wiggle||Jason Derulo ft. Snoop Dogg||933 Million|
|3||Young, Wild and Free||Snoop Dogg & Wiz Khalifa||686 Million|
|4||Buttons||The Pussycat Dolls||661 Million|
|5||California Gurls||Katty Perry ft. Snoop Dogg||642 Million|
|6||Black and Yellow (G-Mix)||Wiz Khalifa ft. Snoop Dogg||577 Million|
|7||The Next Episode||Dr Dre ft. Snoop Dogg||561 Million|
|8||P.I.M.P. Snoop Dogg Remix||50 Cent ft. Snoop Dogg||520 Million|
|9||Hangover||PSY ft. Snoop Dogg||358 Million|
|10||I Wanna Love You||Akon ft. Snoop Dogg||351 Million|