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Sultan of Smooth

Celebrity culture is big business. It's just that the definition of celebrity gets looser and looser. Pseudoreality entertainment has given us train wrecks, villains we love to hate, or modern-day spectacles akin to old bearded ladies of yore (Octomom, anyone?).

But on the flip side, there are the few who truly are stars, in the classic notion of the word— artists and performers who make it on the merits of their talent but manage to engage and enthrall. Real celebs with as much presence onstage as off. Icons. And yes, Snoop Dogg, who performs a rare local club gig at the Opium Hard Rock this Saturday, is one of these.

The venerable "Sultan of Smooth" and the "Dogfather of Swagger" has captivated audiences with his sleepy, laid-back style. And although he's a "real" star, his popularity has earned him his own reality show on E!, called Father Hood, which recently entered its second season. Then there's an upcoming talk-variety show on MTV called Dogg After Dark. That's not to mention a slew of supporting roles and cameos in movies like Old School and the recently released Brüno.

But the music is still where he came from and always at the forefront of where he's headed. Ask him what he does best and he answers simply: "Good music. I shit out hits. Ya dig?"

And shit out hits he practically does. Snoop Dogg has dropped nine albums since the release of his debut, Doggystyle, in 1992, and has sold some 30 million records worldwide. But after 17 years in the biz, Snoop continues plugging away, never losing step.

"I'm Snooperman," he explains. "I go in the booth and get it done. The day that I can't get it done in the booth is the day that it's time to retire. I can't see that happening no time soon."

Snoop still sells out venues, just like he always has. And there's a new album, Malice in Wonderland, slated for release later this year and a summer tour already under way. And thanks to his dedication to his music and fans, nothing seems to be slowing down. "Fans know they're gonna get the best out of Snoop Dogg," he says, "and I make sure that they don't walk out of there disappointed."

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Christopher Lopez

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