Death Row co-founder John Payne explains why 'Deep Cover' was a crucial step for Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg.
Death Row Records is approaching its 30th anniversary in February 2022. Ahead of the significant milestone, label co-founder John Payne has been reflecting on his time there. During a recent interview with HipHopDX, Payne explained how Comptons Most Wanted was actually behind the imprints iconic nameand weighed in on Suge Knights reputation as raps boogeyman. But at the same time, Payne also looked back on Death Rows early days, before it was enveloped by controversy and marred by the 1996 murder of 2Pac, Knights incarceration and Dr. Dre and Snoop Doggs departures. In 1992, Dr. Dre and a 19-year-old Snoop (then known as Snoop Doggy Dogg) teamed up for Dres first post-N.W.A single, Deep Cover (187), which was included on the soundtrack for the Larry Fishburne film Deep Cover. Deep Cover also introduced the world to the smooth stylings and effortless rhyming of Snoop Dogg and marked his first time on a record. It even inspired Fat Joe and Big Pun to do their own East Coast version, Twinz (Deep Cover 98), years later. I mixed Deep Cover,' Payne tells HipHopDX. When Bill Duke or some of the people in the production team would say, OK, this is the scene where we got so and so, Id call in Jewell and Lady of Rage. I was calling the people from the Death Row side to come and put it all together, thats why I mixed it. Youll see in the credits, they also thanked me from the film side. That was a very, very good thing because it introduced the label and its artists prior to The Chronic; it was a good look. And before there was any nonsense, I can honestly say this, with that Deep Cover soundtrack, people on the East Coast, everybody was digging it. It was a very good introduction for Snoop. I give credit to Colin Wolfe and Eric Borders who did the track, to Dre with his obvious talent, to Snoop for writing that and just everything coming together so well. Embed from Getty Images The video for Deep Cover included snippets from the film and immortalized a young Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in that moment of time. Eight months later, Dr. Dre would release his multi-platinum solo album The Chronic and the G-Funk era was officially on. Its cool to be part of that history and to see where we were just two years later, he says. Heres The Chronic and all that stuff. was the perfect planting of the seed for Death Row. When The Chronic came out, people were expecting something good. It wasnt a case of being preconditioned, but they knew now there was no need to completely have to introduce Snoop or Dre or some of the others. So when they saw that, it was good. A post shared by snoopdogg (@snoopdogg) Much like N.W.Adid with their brazen Fuck Tha Police anthem, Dr. Dreand Snoop didnt hold back when it came to their lyrical content. When they spit Nuthin But A G Thang or Lil Ghetto Boy, they meant every word. It was their truth and how they saw things in their Compton neighborhoods. One of the best things about Deep Cover and The Chronic is the fact everybody was talented, but they didnt necessarily have experience in the business, so they could break rules, Payne adds. They could do things that a lot of people like, Well, maybe we shouldnt do that because people will be upset. Read more