Where did the ’90s go?

Does anyone remember that Snoop Doggy Dogg character? He was one of those dangerous gangster rappers from back in the ’90s. At one point, he was actually on trial for murder. I guess it’s a good thing they got rid of that gang-banging, marijuana-smoking hoodlum.

Nowadays, we have much more wholesome hip-hop stars, like that fellow named Snoop Dogg. I know the names sound similar, but trust me: these guys couldn’t be any further apart.

The good ol’ Uncle Snoop Dogg that I know is simply a well-respected artist who has his own television program. There’s no way a guy like that could have come from the ranks of NWA.

Okay, maybe Mr. Dogg isn’t the most upright of citizens. He did, after all, show up to the Video Music Awards with two of his lady friends chained to him with dog collars. But you have to admit that while his popularity has remained steady, the controversy surrounding Snoop has certainly decreased since his “Doggy” days.

This is especially true when you look at him in comparison to the younger rappers today. Snoop Dogg was only charged with murder, while rappers like Master P’s little brother C-Murder go for the gold. Just a little over a month ago he was convicted of second-degree murder. I guess the cards were stacked against him, though. I mean, it’d be kind of hard to fight a drug charge if my name was J-Possession-with-Intent-to-Distribute.

While many people would easily lump Snoop together with the likes of C-Murder, there is a big distinction. Snoop is an icon of the ’90s.

You remember the ’90s, don’t you? Think “Beavis and Butthead,” parachute pants, and the Macarena. Yeah, things sure were simpler back then. I only needed basic cable to watch the latest TV hit, my mom could buy me the freshest fashions at K-Mart and I actually knew all of the moves to the newest dance craze.

It doesn’t get much better than a bilingual Chihuahua selling tacos and a TV show devoted to slow-motion shots of chicks running in bathing suits. This retrospection into the ”90s is what got me thinking about the Doggfather in the first place.

The whole gangster rap experience was a definitive element of the decade. However, things have definitely changed since then. While artists like Snoop have remained, fresh faces like 50 Cent have taken center stage. This is part of why Snoop has made his shift to the mainstream.

But, it’s not simply a matter that people are finally coming to terms with his image. Snoop has changed. Earlier this year, the infamous pothead announced that he was quitting his marijuana habit.

In case you don’t realize how big a deal that is, then maybe I should refresh your memory. I’m talking about Snoop Dogg, advocate of the legalization of what he has so eloquently called the “bubonic chronic.” One of my fondest childhood memories is of watching the “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang” video and wondering what the blurred-out green leaf on Snoop’s hat was. Now, I know that whole new millennium thing technically put an end to the ’90s. But, for both hip-hop and pop culture itself, Snoop going cold turkey is truly the end of an era.

That’s just the first sign, too. Soon, films of the caliber of “Ace Ventura: Pet Detective” or “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” will be scarce. People will eventually forget why we all hated the purple dinosaur named Barney.

Considering that it took VH1 over 20 years before it released “I Love the ’70s,” I think it might be a while before we get to take a walk down memory lane for “I Love the ’90s.” So for now, I guess I’ll just put REM’s “It’s the End of the World” on repeat and flashback to the good old days.

And if I ever miss the Snoop Doggy Dogg that I remember, I can always pop in my copy of “Girls Gone Wild: Doggy Style.” That’ll remind me that the edgy D-O-double-G that we all know and love is still alive and pimpin’.

Jacob Tootalian, The California Aggie, University of California-Davis