The Legend Of Snaggapuss: The Cult Bronx MC Who Rapped In A Cartoon Voice And Was Courted By Dr. Dre
Snaggapuss and Doo-Wop
Snaggapuss ingratiated himself to the early-'90s New York City rap scene through a series of guest verses recited in a tone resembling Hanna-Barbera's pink cartoon lion Snagglepuss. As part of mixtape master Doo-Wop's Bounce Squad, Snagga was prepped to emerge as the break-out solo artist of the bunch. But then the Bronx-based rapper seemed to vanish--until a series of recent new guest verses (often with a resurrected Bounce Squad) and the announcement of a new mixtape this week.
Checking in with Snaggapuss, he opened up about his wilderness years and spun a yarn that detailed a west coast move to work with California's hip-hop elite and a near-death experience back home in New York. Here's the Snaggapuss story.
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Can you remember when you first had the idea to rap in the Snagglepuss voice?
Yes, it wasn't totally all my idea. Since I was young people compared me to the cartoon and said I talked like that. But before I was rapping on the Doo-Wop and Bounce Squad mixtapes I was working with the Trackmasters. I was on a conference call with Pudgee Tha Fat Bastard and Red Hot Lover Tone. Pudgee was an artist on Warner Brothers at the time and Trackmasters was working there. We were on the three-way just kicking around ideas and I'm not sure if it was Pudge or Tone but one of them said it and I was like, "Yeah, that kinda fits me, I like that!" They said I should incorporate the character's style. But people had already told me I sounded like the cartoon so it wasn't that far of a stretch. I was just trying to find a way to be me but still inject the Snagglepuss in there.
Were you worried that people might think the voice was corny?
Yeah, like you know the saying that says you can't please all of the people all of the time? I apply that to this day. When I first started it was the golden era of hip-hop. It was very hard to break a new artist and make a name for yourself 'cause you had Big and 'Pac and Wu-Tang. It was very hard to get in. But somehow through the mixtapes I'd earned the respect of those pioneers. That always felt like an honor and a great accomplishment. I'm a fan of our music and our culture so to be respected by people you looked up to and who broke down doors meant a lot to me. Even though I never really attained commercial success, I have that.
Even to this day when I post new music someone says it's a gimmick. But I check their profile and see their age and their image and they're 15-years-old and they've never heard of me. But for the most part I get respect from the pioneers in the game and in New York they have love for me. That's what I focus on. [Pauses] They used to tell me I sound like Humpty [Hump]! Then when I moved to California I met Shock G and he said he didn't think so. I had a long talk with him about it because the Luniz were my label mates at the time. Everybody has an opinion--I just take it with a grain of salt.
What was the first official record you rhymed on? Was it the Pudgee one?
Yeah, the first record that I rhymed on was "Doin' MCs Sum'n Terrible." I believe that's it.
What were the Trackmasters like to work with back then?
Oh, wow, that was an amazing experience. I feel like that might have set me up to prepare me for everything else. The work ethic was crazy. This was before brothers was doing it like that. It was eight or nine different brothers working on your material at the same time, even if you didn't meet them and whether or not you were there. Sometimes I'd come in and vocal a beat and come back two days later and it was a completely different track as they'd broke it down and built it back up again around my vocals. Their work ethic was crazy. I totally tip my hat to Hot Lover Tone and Pokey, I learned a lot from them.