The firestorm, Snoop said, made him feel like he had “too much power” and that he was “abusing it.”
“Red Table Talk,” Jada Pinkett Smith’s popular Facebook Watch show, has become the latest go-to arena for celebrities seeking redemption. Smith, along with her mother, Adrienne Banfield-Norris, and her daughter, Willow Smith, hosted family friend Jordyn Woods in the wake of her fallout last year with the Kardashian-Jenner family. The bright red table is also where rapper T.I. sought to retract controversial comments about his daughter’s sex life in the fall.
At the start of the episode, Smith revealed she had never officially met Snoop despite the fact that they were both close friends of the late rapper Tupac Shakur.
“This conversation is not about taking sides. This conversation is not about trying to prove who was right or who was wrong,” Smith told viewers. “This conversation is about healing.”
The online reaction to Snoop’s comments quickly morphed into a larger conversation about the treatment of black women. Smith said she saw the episode “as a huge opportunity to talk about the wounds and culture of disrespect between black men and black women.” She said that both Snoop and King had been invited “to the table” and that King, who did not appear on the episode, “has an open invite for whenever she wants to come.”
Then the actress turned her attention to Snoop. “When you first said what you said in regards to Gayle, my heart dropped,” Smith told the rapper. “I felt like not only were you talking to Gayle but you were talking to me.”
King faced an onslaught of criticism after CBS tweeted a clip of her wide-ranging interview with Leslie, who spoke about her late friend’s legacy. (King later said she was “embarrassed” and “very angry” that the network had excerpted their discussion to reflect only her questions about the case, which never went to trial because the woman who had accused Bryant of raping her declined to testify.) But Snoop was also widely criticized for his Instagram tirade, which included misogynist language and what many considered to be a threat against King, as Snoop advised her to “back off, b----, before we come get you.”
“It was just a matter of me losing control because we still haven’t swallowed Nip,” he said, referencing his friend and fellow rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was killed in a shooting last March. Like Bryant, Hussle was highly regarded in Los Angeles, where the 33-year-old worked to stop the gang violence that had permeated his life growing up in Crenshaw.
“Kobe was like the son and the brother to L.A. that we all needed, and we all loved him for that,” Snoop explained as the screen flashed to pictures of the two together. “From the early ’90s to his last days of playing basketball, we watched him grow into a man, a father, a mentor, a leader.”
Though Snoop initially insisted he had not threatened King, he later apologized. “I publicly tore you down by coming at you in a derogatory manner based off of emotions,” he told King in an Instagram video. On Wednesday, Smith praised his apology but wanted to understand the anger directed at King.
“Black men were furious,” Smith said. “I had not seen that, as a collective, in a long time.”
“I see it all the time,” Snoop interjected. “ ’Cause I’m a black man. We just came from behind closed doors on that one.”
“When someone becomes a superhero, it’s our job to protect our superhero,” he added. “So that’s why we have that in our heart: Why are y’all attacking us — after we make it?”
The rapper acknowledged that the anger was inherently wrapped up in the trauma of how black men have been historically treated in this country: “Automatically, we feel like we’re targeted.”
His response to King was also motivated by concern for Bryant’s wife and children.
After his Instagram tirade, Snoop said he received phone calls from other prominent black men, including Tyler Perry, Diddy and Van Jones. “They didn’t bash me,” he said, but they let him know that his message had been clouded by vitriol.
Smith wanted to know how the rapper felt as his Instagram rant swelled into a national controversy. “It made me feel like I had too much power,” Snoop said. “And at that particular time I was abusing it.”
“I like being an example of wrong to right, because my whole career’s based off of being wrong to right,” said Snoop, who was acquitted of murder and assault in 1996 as he found increasing fame. “So I get it, and I understand.”
“But this time was different,” he added, “because mama called.”
In his apology to King two weeks ago, Snoop referenced a difficult conversation with his mother.
“My mother raised me in church, and she raised me to respect women, so there were just certain things that she said to me that took me back to being a little kid,” Snoop told Smith and her family.
“When your mama can make you feel like a kid, that’s when you got to get right,” he said. “I didn’t feel grown. I didn’t feel like I was Snoop Dogg the rapper. I felt like Snoopy.”
The rapper stressed that his apology to King — who said she accepted the olive branch and understood “the raw emotions” caused by Bryant’s death — was heartfelt and did not involve his publicist.
“The apology is authentic, it’s sincere,” he said. “And I’m really sorry.”
The discussion was interspersed with video messages from prominent women of color, including Iyanla Vanzant of “Fix My Life” fame and sports journalist Jemele Hill.
“I know what you said was out of character and came from a place of hurt,” Hill said. “But we need to find a way that we can correct one another, dialogue with each other without it potentially causing harm.”
“Black men in this country have been made to feel like a target, and the weight of that hurt and pain that they’ve absorbed from the world comes back in our direction,” Hill continued, alluding to black women. “Sometimes we are made the target simply because we are a very easy group to take out your frustrations on.”
In her video message, Hill noted Snoop had publicly supported her during her tumultuous fallout with ESPN. Reflecting on Hill’s criticism, Snoop said, “It helped me step back and see how many women in my life that depend on me, that need me, and I need them.”
Snoop said he has not yet heard from King but has reached out through friends — and even sent a direct message on social media — expressing a desire to meet with her privately.
The conversation eventually found its way to Snoop’s discography, which the rapper acknowledged has been peppered by misogynist terms.
“It’s hard to let go of something that you’ve been accustomed to your whole life,” Snoop explained.
Smith confessed she and Tupac would fight over his use of similar terms. “He tried to define for me the difference,” she said. Snoop anticipated what she was going to say next. The justifications for using that language at the time “made no sense at all,” he said. “I’m not gonna try to explain it to you.”
“I just kept misusing it, just throwing it out there,” he added. “It came back to me on the Gayle incident.”