Gin and Juice Essay
Snoop Dogg’s “Gin and Juice,” from his quadruple-platinum 1993 album Doggystyle, proved itself a top 10 hit and ushered in the age of West Coast gangster rap. But few would guess that the content of its lyrics would pave the way for the slow, often ignored birth of the genre of homo-hop, as its artists call it, through which urban gays gain an outlet to express themselves in a field long dominated by drugs, violence, and chasing women. “Gin and Juice” richly merges the traditional themes of gangster rap with the misgivings and fears of growing up gay in a gay-hating climate. The song is best interpreted as the lament of a gay man writing straight rap, which makes it “kinda hard bein Snoop D-O-double-G.”
First observe that it is very unlikely the audience he speaks to in the first verse is female. He explicitly asserts he wishes to “kick a little something for the G’s,” not the women. And why would he brag to a woman about the “bitches in the living room gettin it on”? Furthermore, if this party includes that kind of public sex, it seems unusual for Snoop to tell his partner to be sure to “turn off the lights and close the doors.” He affirms this scenario by concluding that “we”–presumably he and his partner–“don’t love them hoes, yeah!”
In this context, his mention of condoms in the first verse is at once a refreshing appeal for safer sex and an expression of discontent for the disparity between what Snoop and his friends feel comfortable doing. While Snoop has “a pocket full of rubbers” and his “homeboys do, too,” his heterosexual friends are free to couple in front of each other in the living room, while he must retreat with his partner to a private room. After all, “you got to get yours, but fool I gotta get mine.” The contradiction makes him angry, and inspires his only use of the term “motherfucker” in the song. He seems to be angry because he writes songs for the entertainment of his straight friends while he struggles secretly, internally: “G’s up, hoes down, while you motherfuckers bounce to this.”
The pervasive misogyny in the song shows some purpose, for it seems natural that a gay man would project his anger at the society that expects and compels him to pair with women onto those women he pairs with. Repeatedly he expresses his preference for men: “We don’t love them hoes”;”I don’t love you hoes”; “G’s up, hoes down”. He tells the “bitch” Sadie she “gets none of these,” as he is “at ease… with the Dogg Pound”–his male friends–and not her.
His repeated descriptions of drug and alcohol use indicate that he relies on substances to resolve himself to the situations he allows himself to be put in. The chorus has him “sippin` on gin and juice,” even as he just rolls down the street. And when Dre brings him a woman in the third verse, he must use both “Tanqueray and chronic” to perform.
The message of this song for urban gays is strong but not optimistic. When he mistreats the woman Dre brings “to serve” him, he tells her “don’t get upset,” and asks her to try to understand his situation is just as hard as hers–after all, “that’s just how it goes.” The special sympathy here between Snoop and this woman is apparent when he calls her “girl,” rather than “bitch” which would have easily fit the rhythm. He is, unfortunately, as resigned to concealing his sexual identity from his friends as this woman is to serving men sexually. Even so, Snoop asserts he will “somehow, some way/Keep comin up with funky ass shit like every single day.” His internal conflict continues, but he will not let it interfere with his career.