Rapper Snoop Dogg's recent gift to Willie Nelson surprised no one. His adulation of Little Big Town's National Championship performance shocked a few. It's becoming clear that Snoop's flirtation with country music has evolved into a full-blown romance, and Nashville is reciprocating.

It began nearly a decade ago with Snoop Dogg's cover of Everlast's "My Medicine," but that song was born out of his fascination with Johnny Cash. The rapper actually teamed with Cash's son to co-produce a remix album called Johnny Cash Remixed. On that album, Snoop remixes "I Walk the Line."

Around the same time, he and Nelson appeared in the music video for "My Medicine" — we're pretty sure Willie can be seen rapping — during which Snoop Dogg opens with "I'd like to dedicate this record right her to my main man Johnny Cash, a real American gangster," over a country shuffle. Brad Paisley also appears in the video, which makes sense because ...

Snoop can be heard opening up a song on a Paisley album. "Kentucky Jelly" was on Paisley's 2008 album of mostly instrumentals called Play. He says, "Goodness gracious! Kentucky jelly." To promote "My Medicine," Snoop turned up at the 2008 CMT Awards and mugged for photos with artists like Taylor Swift, Josh Turner and Jason Aldean. But that's certainly not his biggest country awards show recognition.

Snoop Dogg is a CMA nominated artist. In 2012 he (along with Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson) were nominated in the Vocal Event of the Year category for Nelson's "Roll Me Up and Smoke Me When I Die." The catchy song from Nelson's Heroes album did not win (Kenny Chesney and Tim McGraw's "Feel Like a Rock Star" did), but it put him in a prestigious category of outsiders with CMA nods.

Some of this old news doesn't support the idea that Snoop is part of today's country game, but that doesn't mean there isn't support for him. Dolly Parton recently admitted she'd consider collaborating with him because her husband is a big fan. Sam Hunt says that during Stagecoach Music Festival in 2016, the rapper approached him with songs he thought Hunt should include on his next album.

Hunt was honored.

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