My favourite Snoop Dogg album has always been Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told. I’m not sure if it’s one of his best or best-selling albums. It just arrived in my life in a rather special way. So I like it for a rather peculiar reason.
Snoop released Da Game Is To Be Sold in 1998; it was his first album for the No Limit label and his third album at that point. It doesn’t have any major hits on it. But that’s not even the reason I like it. I like this album (and I only ever listen to it a few times a year now) because of the way I discovered it. You see, this album turned up after my car was stolen a few years ago. I’ll recap:
Around the time that Snoop released this album I was living in a flat that made me realise the sets on The Young Ones were totally fake. This place was a dump. It was nothing for us to come home and set the coffee table ablaze after pouring lighter fluid all over it (yes, we were young and ambitious). And we cooked from the four basic food groups: pizza, curry, beer and spag-bol.
Anyway, one night spent erasing brain cells at a hideous rate had me the recipient of a rather rude awakening. My car was missing. It was Saturday morning, and having run in to those same two animals I always seemed to randomly bump in to drinking (the mule that kicked me in the head and the bird that did its business down my throat) the only reason I was awake at 8am and in hot pursuit of chocolate milk was because I had promised a friend an early morning ride to the airport. That was what happened in the student daze. You see I had a car. Or should I say had a car. On this morning, birds-nest hair and Buddy Rich blazing a solo in my chest, I did not have a car. All of a sudden it was simply not there. (Like an Amy Winehouse encore. Or Mikey Havoc’s TV career).
The car in question was a sedan – I had normally driven a wagon or hatch due to owning a drumkit. That sentence will become more relevant soon.
So, the girl I had promised a ride to the airport was the recipient of a panicked phone-call which led to me keeping her car for the weekend after dropping her at the airport in that vehicle. Sorted. And it was handy to have a car because I had a gig that night. I was in a band at the time and we were playing at a 21st – so the car would be handy for hauling the drums.
Ah, but there was another issue. Due to driving a sedan, the bass drum rested on the back seat and the other drums and cymbals could all fit in the boot. It was great. So good in fact that no one knew they were there…they pretty much just stayed in there….and… (you get where this is going…)…they were in fact there. Which, as with my car at that point, meant that they actually weren’t there.
So, it was in the friend’s car and off to borrow a drum-kit from my pal who owned the musical gear hire-place. (What a guy!) And then it was home to retrace the steps of when I had last had the car and who had been around to take it. Oh, and to down a litre of chocolate milk.
A quick search of the bombsite where we lived revealed that the keys were gone and one of my flatmates arrived sporting his own birds-nest to tell me that he was sorry but the very likely scenario was that his half-brother who had crashed at our place the night before had taken the car. “Sorry, dude”, I remember him saying. “He’s a bit of a shocker with things like that”.
And that was that. The car was gone. And we figured the guy we had been drinking with the night before and had offered floor-space to his jail-bait girlfriend had gone off with my car. So I played a gig with a borrowed drum-kit, using a borrowed car to transport me and the kit and of course being a covers band we had borrowed a few tunes to play that night. And then, the next day we heard that the car had been found. In Wanganui. We were right: the half-brother had flogged it and driven it dry; ran it out of gas at a set of lights in Wanganui (I presume there’s just the one set, hence the car was so easy to find?) and he had done a runner. Bolted.
The car was transported back to Wellington with just enough gas in it for me to get to a petrol station. I hopped in the car two days after it was taken and it stank of cigarettes. I opened the ashtray that was piled with butts. But the first thing I noticed was the gangsta-rap blasting from the stereo. I recognised that it was a) Snoop and b) not mine. And I turned the dial down so that the volume rested below distortion. But I didn’t eject it and throw it out the window. I didn’t stomp on it and pull the reels of tape out to run kite-like with down the Dixon Street steps. I didn’t even replace it with the Schnell-Fenster tape that was a favourite in that car at that time (and most brilliantly was still in the glove box). I just left Snoop in and over the weeks I started to singalong.
Every third word rhymed with truck. And there was the odd suggestion to do something to one’s own mother that really didn’t fly – unless you were part of some Greek myth (no, not the one where he flies…but it is also icky…). At first I drove around with the tape in the car as some kind of irony. It was music I didn’t – at that time – normally listen to. AND it had the story behind it of being left in the car by the people that had stolen it. And left it at that set of lights in Wanga-Vegas.
The tape stayed in the car for a while (and I later bought the CD). And the drums? Well they were still in the car. My flatmate informed me that I was lucky once again there: “yeah, if he’d opened the boot dude they would have been gone. He’d have sold them for smokes or something…he’s a bit of a shocker with things like that”.
The following weekend I had the drums in the boot and the bass-drum on the backseat heading off to play a gig in Palmerston North and back that night. I sang along to every word that the Dogg barked. Calling out peeps for being total Oedipus-types.
So, that’s the story of how Da Game Is To Be Sold, Not To Be Told came to be part of my musical world. The album is still a favourite, hued with its own weird booze-soaked, ciggy-stinking nostalgia now…