It’s probably hard for those under 25 to grasp, but even in the early Nineties, hip-hop was still persona non grata on mainstream, primetime television. Whereas nowadays, “60 Minutes” does interviews with Eminem, Jay-Z appears on “Oprah” and you can find name-your-rap-artist on late night TV, back in the day the only rappers you’d occasionally find on network TV were the pop-oriented Young MC types.
That extended to award shows as well. Snoop Doggy Dogg and Dr. Dre’s performance on the 1994 American Music Awards was a breakthrough for hardcore hip-hop in much the same way that The Chronic and Doggystyle‘s success paved the way for a greater acceptance of rap music on the radio and in mainstream media. It would have been hard to ignore Dre after the year he had, and as the AMAs were California based (and I always thought that their voting system left them heavily skewed to artists with a West Coast appeal until they opened it up to the internet), it would’ve been a gross oversight to not feature the hottest hip-hop artists on their show. Or maybe Suge Knight just pinned Dick Clark against a wall.
Snoop’s performance of “Gin & Juice” (joined by Tha Dogg Pound as well as Dre on the 1s and 2s) wasn’t just any run of the mill hip-hop performance, either. It was as well-staged as any of the pop performances and definitely helped push things forward in terms of the perception of the average hip-hop performance being a bunch of guys walking back and forth on stage grabbing their dicks. The sound quality on this rip isn’t great, but the quality of the performance still shines through.