A dozen years ago, preparing to make his solo break from N.W.A, Dr. Dre recruited a 20-year-old onetime drug dealer to rap aside him on The Chronic. That was the cauldron that forged rap's most colorful character this side of Flava Flav, Snoop Dogg. Perennially enveloped in a milky haze of fine herb, Snoop became established as a major player in the rap game with his 1993 joint, Doggystyle. Though none of his subsequent albums has matched his debut, that hardly matters, as Snoop's larger-than-life persona and signature laconic drawl have become pop culture staples like Billy Idol's sneer. Surprisingly, since turning 30, Snoop seems to have re-found his stride, though his raps on his latest, R&G (Rhythm & Gangsta): The Masterpiece, can be extremely misogynist (see "Can U Control Yo Hoe").
Dre recently offered a similar hand-up by signing The Game, a young drug dealer who turned to rap after being shot five times (sound familiar?). His debut, The Documentary, is awash in the influence of Dre's old outfit, N.W.A (The Game even sports both Eazy-E and N.W.A tattoos). While not particularly innovative or distinctive in his flow, The Game succeeds with a bevy of top producers, including Timbaland, Kanye West, and Hi-Tek.