The Meaning Behind Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s “Nuthin’ But a G Thang”

If you’ve ever seen the 2015 film Straight Outta Compton, the award-winning biopic about pioneering rap group N.W.A., you’ll probably remember the scene where Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg spontaneously make their hit song “Nuthin’ But a G Thang.” In the scene, Dre is messing around on his keyboard in his house, and when he suddenly finds a groovy melody, Snoop happens to be coming down the stairs and hears the beat. Right then and there, he rattles off the lyrics to “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” perfectly.

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Well, about that… Even though the scene fit well into the movie and made for an entertaining moment, this isn’t at all representative of how the song was actually made. In fact, it took much more time and effort than the movie lets on.

“Nuthin’ But a G Thang” was used as one of the promotional singles for Dre’s classic 1992 debut album The Chronic, his first full-length release after departing from N.W.A. However, the idea for the song was first realized by Snoop when he was in prison, as he spent time behind bars from 1989-1992 for drug charges.

According to Colin Wolfe, a producer and songwriter who worked on many songs on The Chronic, Snoop wrote the lyrics for the song while locked up.

“I was the first one to hear the song’s lyrics,” Wolfe told WaxPoetics in a now-archived 2012 interview. “Snoop was in jail and used to call up to the house. I picked up one time and Snoop was like, ‘Yo, man, I just wrote this rap called ‘G’ Thang.’ Check it out–tell me if you think Dre gon’ like it.’ He rapped it for me and I said, ‘Hell fuckin’ yeah!’”

[RELATED: Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre’s Joint Album is “Comin Soon”]

Additionally, when it came to the song’s production, the melody was not original, as it was derived from a sample of Leon Haywood’s 1975 song “I Want’a Do Something Freaky To You.” But, during a 2015 interview with BigBoyTV, Dre explained that he initially had a different sample for the song, and eventually went with Haywood’s instead after further consideration.

“The original version of ‘Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang’ was made to a Boz Scaggs song, I can’t remember the name of the song,” Dre told Big Boy. “But Snoop was actually in jail, and I really wanted this demo done… So he called in and I taped the receiver of the phone to the mic. You can hear jail sounds in the back and everything. He’s going, ‘1, 2,’ that whole thing. That was the original version.

“I just happened to be at my mom’s house, going through records, and I found this Leon Haywood, ‘I Want’a Do Something Freaky to You’ [sample] and thought that would make a better foundation track,” he continued. “So I took that back, recorded the track, Snoop got out and we just recorded this song at my house. It was a bedroom that I converted into a studio in my house. That’s where the first half of The Chronic came from.”

Before adding the song to his album’s track list, though, Dre wanted to crowdsource some opinions on it, knowing he needed The Chronic to have very few imperfections.

“I played it at a house party and everybody wanted me to rewind it and keep playing it,” he added. “That’s when I knew it was special.”

“Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” would go on to peak at No. 2 on the Billboard Hot 100, and was certified platinum by RIAA three months after the album’s release.

Photo by Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

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