Fans who turned out to BMI's annual pre-Grammy Awards "How I Wrote That Song" discussion got a little more than they expected thanks to Snoop Dogg — a contact high.
The rapper smoked marijuana during Saturday's panel discussion, lighting up a large, Kush-filled blunt on stage at The Roxy. He briefly passed it off to B.o.B before methodically reducing it to ash over a 15-minute period. The panel also included Busta Rhymes and songwriters Luke Laird and Evan Bogart, all of whom abstained — at least on stage.
Fittingly, the conversation eventually turned to Snoop's groundbreaking work on "The Chronic."
Laird recalled growing up at the end of a dirt road 10 miles outside Conneaut Lake, a small town of 700 in rural Pennsylvania. Yet Snoop's work with Dr. Dre still infiltrated his world and that of all the other country kids around him.
"Let me just say, the album everyone was listening to was 'The Chronic,'" Laird said, noting how surreal it was to be sitting on stage with Snoop.
With acoustic guitar in hand, he played a bit of his Blake Shelton hit "Hillbilly Bone" in its original form: a rap song. The Nashville-based songwriter had everyone bobbing their heads to the beat.
"Now I feel like more than ever you see these influences crossing genres," Laird said.
The buzz before the panel, of course, was about the actual Grammy Awards on Sunday. Bogart and Laird told Billboard their votes for Album Of the Year went to fun.'s “Some Nights,” as did “Call Me Maybe” co-songwriter Josh Ramsay, who was in the audience for the panel. This is Ramsay's first Grammy ceremony as an attendee and he still seems awestruck at the invitation.
“None of us could have predicted the song doing what it did, and we all feel grateful and lucky for it to have done what it did,” Ramsay told Billboard. “I never even considered that it was going to happen. I didn't see it coming at all. I found out on Twitter!”
Bogart's excitement for the ceremony comes from what he sees as a particularly strong batch of nominees for the larger categories -- a specific source of pride, since he serves on the Grammy nominating committee.
“Real, authentic, true-to-themselves artists in music are coming back, fully demonstrated in the Album of the Year and Best New Artist categories, which I think got all five nominations in each category absolutely dead-on,” Bogart said. “That's very inspiring with where music has been -- and where it's going.”
He echoed those statements during the panel, which was moderated by BMI VP writer/publisher relations Catherine Brewton and functioned as a round-robin, with each songwriter discussing the background behind some of their biggest hits. That ranged from Hot Chelle Rae's “Tonight Tonight” (Bogart came clean that its funky lick was “Jackson-5 ripoff-y”) to “A Little Bit Stronger,” a song of Lairds recorded by Sara Evans – and originally intended for Lady Antebellum.
Other anecdotes of note: according to Busta Rhymes, the verses on Tribe Called Quest's “Scenario” weren't heard by the other rappers until after they were recorded -- there was no “cheating” by listening in on the collaborators' lyrics. Rhianna's “SOS” -- a song partially inspired by Bogart's then-new sobriety -- was his first recorded cut ever and his first No. 1. B.o.B's vocal track on “Don't Let Me Fall” was recorded in a closet in his the apartment he was living in at the time.
One of the panel's highlights -- and a brief reminder that Grammy Week magic can happen at any time -- was a short version of B.o.B. backing himself for an acoustic rendition of the song... with Laird, of course, joining in for a little impromptu beatboxing.
- The Juice