AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- When Snoop Dogg passed through Willie Nelson's neck of the woods during South By Southwest in March, he took some time to pay tribute to his unlikely friend.
He regaled reporters with mostly NSFW stories about time the pair spent together in Amsterdam, sharing their mutual love of music, marijuana and fried chicken. The always lighthearted Snoop also got serious when talking about his friendship with Nelson and the 79-year-old singer's unique role as a musical ambassador.
"When I first met him you would think he was a hip-hop artist because he showed love to me as if I was in his world and I never made country music or none of that, but he understood who I was," Snoop said. "And it drove me to make country music. I made a couple of country records and was a part of his album and went to the Country Music Awards and worked with Brad Paisley, went to Johnny Cash's house. I was getting heavy into it and finding country music is a form of hip-hop music. It's the same thing. We're the same people. Don't let the rhythm fool you. It's the same game."
The feeling is mutual, which is why Nelson included Snoop on his newest album, "Heroes," a collection of songs sung with Nelson's musical heroes that came out this month. The 40-year-old rapper is the only musician on the album not connected to country music in some way.
"I just like the guy personally and his music is great," Nelson said. "I'm not a big rapper-type fan, but I know he's great because he's already a legend and he's not that old, and there's a lot of people out there who are huge Snoop fans. He and I have a lot in common because we both smoke a little dope together now and then. Mainly we like to get together and play a little music and hang out any chance we get."
Others who appear with Nelson on the 14-track album include Ray Price, Merle Haggard, Billy Joe Shaver and Sheryl Crow. Nelson and Snoop Dogg are joined by Kris Kristofferson and Jamey Johnson on "Roll Me Up," one of three songs Nelson wrote or co-wrote. And Nelson and Haggard recast "A Horse Called Music." He also covers songs by Tom Waits, Coldplay and Pearl Jam.
That list also includes Nelson's son, Lukas, who appears on more than half the songs on the Buddy Cannon-produced album. The two have recorded together before, but never so extensively.
"It's kind of the first time it happened with us," Lukas Nelson said. "It was cool. It was exciting for me, at least. This was nice to be a part of."
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