With Abundant Charm And A New Album Full Of Hooks, Snoop Dogg Extends His Reign As The Cuddliest Gangsta Rapper Of All Time

When Snoop Dogg hit CNN's "Larry King Live" Feb. 1, the segment may have brought into focus all of what's working for the rapper-turned-singer these days.

For starters, there was his burgeoning hit, "Sensual Seduction," playing in the background as Snoop took the talk show host to the Los Angeles hangout Roscoe's Chicken & Waffles. The electro-funk, '80s-influenced song oozed funk—and Snoop's heavily vocoded singing voice—while the rapper enlightened King to the ways of fried chicken and waffles.

The song is shaping into one of the fastest-climbing crossover hits of his career. After just 14 weeks on Billboard's Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs chart "Seduction" resides at No. 8, and No. 7 on the Hot 100. The song's clever, retro-themed video is reaping its share of buzz as well, getting played on the usual video channels, and perhaps more importantly, is a massive viral hit at YouTube. The heat the single has generated pushed the release date for Snoop's new Doggy Style/Geffen/Interscope album, "Ego Trippin'," up from May to March 11.

"This is a huge look for him," his manager Constance Schwartz of the Firm says. "A lot of people didn't get 'Seduction' at first. They were like, 'Is that T-Pain?' No, that's Snoop singing. That's one of the most brilliant things about him: his ability to surprise people."

Of course, also present on that King segment was Snoop's staggering charisma and charm. When King ordered an "Arnold Palmer"—a mix of lemonade and iced tea named for the golfer who drank it—Snoop immediately coined "The Tiger Woods" (lemonade and water). And when King was shuffled off by his handlers, Snoop eyed the talk show host's substantial leftovers and asked for—what else?—a doggy bag.

Snoop Dogg (born Calvin Broadus) has been full of surprises during his 15-year transition from gangsta rapper to lovable mainstream brand. That he's been able to tweak and have fun with rap's tough-guy image without losing street or mainstream credibility—despite well-publicized run-ins with the law over weapons and drugs—is a singular accomplishment.

"Larry is live, down to earth," Snoop says. "A lot of people were like, 'This is going to be awkward: an old white guy and this young black man.' But it felt natural, like we've known each other 40-50 years. I get with people, do shit with people. I don't categorize anyone so everyone feels comfortable with me."

Snoop attributes his career evolution to simply being a smart "PIMP": Player Into Making Progress.

"That is what that word has always meant to me," the Long Beach, Calif., native says in his signature drawl. "You may think it's a man sending a woman to a corner or someone taking something from someone else. That's the misconception. You've got to know how to pimp the game and not get pimped. Use situations to your advantage and flip the script like I did."

Click here to read about the secret to Snoop's artistic longevity, his touring and branding opportunities, and upcoming film and television projects.