Snoop Dogg, the ultra-smooth West Coast rapper, received the “I Am Hip Hop” award at the 11th annual BET Hip-Hop Awards show in Atlanta.
Rapper Kendrick Lamar introduced Snoop Dogg at the Cobb Energy Performing Centre just outside downtown. Lamar, in front of a packed crowd, said Snoop Dogg “paved a way into many hearts” with his authentic rap flow and infectious persona.
Hip-hop royalty from Dr. Dre to Pharrell Williams paid homage to Snoop, a legend in his own right.
“He mastered the game through tests and challenges that earned him the respect of a college professor, except his game came from the streets,” Lamar said. “He put (me) on game, so I would avoid the same pitfalls. … Snoop Dogg was the God, and continues to be so.”
During his acceptance speech, Snoop Dogg said he felt misunderstood at the beginning of his career but strived to create feel-good music for listeners. He also encouraged up-and-coming rappers to continue to “push the envelope” in being creative and original.
“To all the young rappers in the game, a lot of people don’t understand you. Y’all are misunderstood,” he said. “I was misunderstood at the beginning. So you got to keep pushing, be original and diverse. Hip-hop was created many years ago and it’s taken people so many places. You have to be who you are.”
Before the show, Snoop said it felt “amazing” to be honored by the network. He broke through under the guidance of hit maker Dr. Dre, releasing his 1993 debut album “Doggystyle,” which featured iconic songs including “Gin and Juice” and “What’s My Name?”
“He means so much to hip-hop,” rapper Young Jeezy said. “There are so many who look up to him. He paved a way for so many, and that’s why everybody knows him as Uncle Snoop.”
Rapper Gucci Mane, recently released from prison, hit the stage first. He performed four songs, kicking his set off with “First Day Out” and “First Day Out Tha Feds” during his performance. The rapper made his return after being released in late May from a Federal Correctional Institution in Terre Haute, Indiana.
He served a three-year sentence after pleading guilty to aggravated assault for attacking a fan at an Atlanta nightclub. That sentence ran concurrently with a 39-month federal sentence he was given in 2014 for possession of a firearm by a convicted felon.
First-time host DJ Khaled followed with “Holy Key” with soul singer Betty Wright and a choir dressed in gold.
There were several recorded freestyle sessions, known as The Cypher, featuring several artists including Lil Wayne and comedian Kevin Hart, who rapped shirtless wearing dark sunglasses. During Hart’s rap, some laughed while other applauded his efforts.
The show will air on BET on Oct. 4.