Snoop Dogg on the highs and lows of his transformation

Written by By Sarah Davidson, CNN

Snoop Dogg is one of pop culture’s most versatile stars. Last year, he released a top 10 album, wowed the crowds at Coachella with a track off “Boom Clap” and launched his own Emmy-nominated Netflix documentary, “Snoop Dogg’s Father Hood.”

He’s also a drug dealer, a visionary entrepreneur, an outspoken critic of police violence and everything in between.

Nowhere is this multifaceted force more at ease than in “Delta,” a smart, fast-paced documentary exploring the life of the rapper from his days as a gangster with his hair slicked into huge bouffant afros to his present as a billionaire businessman.

This documentary taps into the filmmaker’s own childhood memories of Snoop’s graffiti-covered, Compton neighborhood to depict the substance of Snoop’s lyrics and his steadfast commitment to serving the downtrodden.

“I was raised by single mothers — my mom and my stepdad — so I was raised to be positive, I was raised to love my mother,” Snoop said in a recent interview. “That’s what I want everybody else to learn from that because that’s how I was raised — I had different mothers.”

Snoop has done much to champion these ideals in his own life. Many of the stories surrounding the rapper are touched upon in “Delta,” from his time growing up in poverty to his current wealthy lifestyle. It’s this bizarre mix of narratives that sets “Delta” apart from many of its fellow documentaries.

Producer Jonathan Knight recalls a simple and unremarkable childhood where he watched “Swamp People” and “Outnumbered” without being aware of their renowned connection to the hip-hop star. “One time I happened to be back in the house after school, and I heard Snoop Dogg ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ in the background,” Knight explains. “When I walked in, my mom was there.”

“That’s when I knew that’s my dad, that’s my dad, so I really knew that Snoop was [my dad],” he says.

Indeed, Snoop’s relationship with his mother was complex and riddled with dysfunction. Both are the brains of the family, as his mother was a skilled dentist and composer. Snoop’s father, by contrast, is generally described as a ‘dictator’ and prone to both substance abuse and violence.

Snoop points out that many of the impoverished conditions in Compton during his early years could be passed on to his son, who grew up in what was at the time an unsafe and violent place. “We actually raised a kid that was that way, because we grew up in that neighborhood, so nobody could separate me from that, you know what I’m saying,” he says.

With documentary film generally confined to certain geographic locations, having a link to the actual city where Snoop grew up is invaluable in “Delta.” It’s this shared experience that allows the film to touch on the concerns of both the rappers and the filmmakers.

Knight tells CNN it’s always been his goal to make documentaries that talked to the people who made history. “We really wanted to try to capture the spirit of the music,” he says. “We didn’t want to make another documentary that was just ‘here’s some dude in some s—ty place. Then there’s some dude who’s doing good, and then there’s some dude doing bad. We wanted to show the whole spectrum of it.”

Snoop takes this approach to his own life, and it’s evident when he talks about his plans to help young people in and around Compton. His “Lavender” foundation works with many high schools across Los Angeles to steer students away from crime and towards higher education.

“I want to try to inspire the kids that come up after me to really say, ‘You know what? I’m so much better than where I come from, I’m going to live in a place like this and do something with my life.’”

From Los Angeles to Germany, Snoop’s mission to help those impacted by his own experience as a youngster remains as revolutionary as ever. “He’s changing the city,” says Knight. “He’s changing his city, and that’s what makes him such a special man.”

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