If it hadn't been for V. I.P. Records, a hip-hop record store in Long Beach, California, Ricky Harris might never have become a successful comedian and actor with ties to the biggest names in 1990s West Coast rap. The shop was a magnet in the early '90s for aspiring rappers like Snoop Dogg, who quickly become one of Harris' closest friends. When owner Kelvin Anderson turned half of the shop into a music recording studio, Harris wound up writing and performing the short comedic sketches that populated Snoop and rapper Warren G's early albums. Soon after, Harris moved to Los Angeles and began acting in films like the Oscar-winning drama "Poetic Justice," starring Tupac Shakur as a socially-conscious postal worker. 1995 proved a pivotal year for Harris: he served as a host and writer on the influential HBO sketch comedy series "Def Comedy Jam"; starred as Snoop's father in the music video for the laidback rapper's wildly successful single "Gin and Juice" and directed the short film "Murder was the Case," which accompanied Snoop's chart-topping concept album about his death and resurrection. Harris starred on two seasons of the primetime network sitcom "Moesha" as J.W., a streetwise car mechanic, and appeared in films like the horror anthology "Tales from the Hood" and the high-profile cop drama "Heat," starring Al Pacino and Robert DeNiro. Since then Harris has co-starred with Snoop in the 2010 revenge flick "Bones" and portrayed a petty thief in the Emmy-nominated sitcom "Everybody Hates Chris."