Los Angeles’ geography is a confusing, expansive wonder. Long Beach is a good 20-30 minutes (and a couple of freeways) away from Inglewood. But the two cities are inextricably linked by culture and demographics — and especially by music. Consider that on Dr. Dre’s 1999 hit single “The Next Episode,” the producer shouts out both alongside his hometown, Compton. His guest on the song, longtime rhyme partner Snoop Dogg, was also instrumental in the rise of Inglewood indie rapper D Smoke, in addition to Dre, Snoop, and a colorful cohort of longtime collaborators taking over the recently constructed SoFi Stadium for the Super Bowl’s halftime show last year.
So it makes sense that Snoop Dogg already has a store, Snoop Dogg Clothing, in Inglewood, right across from the stadium on the corner of Praire Ave. and Arbor Vitae St. It also makes sense that when he was looking for a home for Tha Dogg House, his new retail partnership with the Funko toy company, he’d take over a former 7-11 in the same corner strip mall, where he held a neighborhood launch party on Friday. The store — modeled after a convenience store like the one it replaced — houses Snoop’s new collection of Funko Pop! figures and an impressive array of recording artists, athletes, and pop culture icons from the collectible giant.
But what makes the store special is its location; historically, there haven’t been many hobby shops in the hood. South LA hasn’t exactly been a hotbed of nerd culture, but from the boom in media specifically targeted to the “Blerd” demographic — from the 2015 coming-of-age comedy Dope (which is set, of course, in Inglewood) to the wealth of social media influencers in that space like Julian Green (bka Straw Hat Goofy) — it’s clear that the demand has always been there, even if it was obscured by the one-dimensional gangland perception of LA’s inner-city neighborhoods.
“The beauty of Inglewood is the only thing changing about Inglewood is everything,” Snoop told Uproxx at the store’s opening. “And to be able to have a relationship with the city and to be able to have a plaza like this to bring some businesses that normally you would see in Hollywood or Beverly Hills or different areas like that is something the city needs. Inglewood’s been good to me and we’re gonna keep adding on, business after business.” He also admitted to being an avid Funko collector himself, saying that his favorite is “the one with the pigtails and number 20 jersey on with the football,” as only befits a Long Beach Eastsider.
The opening was attended by Los Angeles luminaries like radio royalty Big Boy and Inglewood’s own D Smoke, as well as social media stars such as Straw Hat Goofy (a Compton native) and other influencers from the Black geek space. Packing into the store, fans were able to be the first to purchase the Snoop Dogg Pops — mine has pigtails and a basketball jersey, a nod to the Doggfather’s close friendship with the late, great Kobe Bryant, and his Lakers fandom (Snoop insists that the only Clippers Pop, Kawhi Leonard, being on a bottom corner shelf was a coincidence). As always, Snoop graciously offered photo ops to practically everyone in attendance, even granting a fun moment to one fan when he learned her selfie was a video.
On a personal note, Tha Dogg House represents something I would have loved to have in my neighborhood growing up as a lonely nerd thinking no one else in Compton shared my interests. To see an icon like Snoop Dogg so openly embracing the hobbyist space in a place where such a thing would have once been considered weird and worthy of bullying doesn’t just give kids affirmation, but it also offers a look at the value of such hobbies. After all, if Snoop can have a Pop, and bring so many celebrities to the hood, it also shows there’s a bridge to more opportunities outside of it — not to mention, creating some of those same opportunities at home, which is just as important. That kids can grow up feeling like it’s okay to be a geek and not a gangster makes Tha Dogg House a worthy new addition to Inglewood’s changing landscape.