- BLAZED AND CONFUSED: Snoop.
There was a time, say around 10:30 p.m. on Monday night, when the emcee started shouting out every person he knew at the Village — after handicapping the NBA playoffs and polling the crowd on preferred weed variety — that I wondered if Snoop Dogg really was getting high with Kurupt and the Nation of Islam outside in his bus, and not, you know, getting high with Kurupt and the Nation of Islam in, say, Tunica.
It's a symptom of following rap tours. Just in recent memory, Arkansas's gotten stiffed by E-40, Young Jeezy and Lil Wayne (or their promoters). Even when stars do show up, there's never confirmation until late in the night (though to be fair, the previously mentioned stiffing came in advance, not the night of).
And so it was on Monday. Four or five local openers, which at least for a while, the pit crowd gamely bobbed to. Massive amounts of killing-time texting. And, then the clouds opened. Snoop's DJ sparked up a blunt sometime after 11 p.m. and the Hustle Boyz, one of the latest affiliates with Snoop's DPG crew, took the stage. Originally, Somalian rapper K'Naan, who's pretty good, was slated to open. The Hustle Boyz, on the other hand, seemed to serve only to illustrate how much taller and better at rapping Snoop is by comparison. But their set was mercifully short and ended with the DJ passing and, in one case, launching blunts into the crowd.
How else but with a contact high to see Snoop Dogg? Here's how he took the stage, after his DJ, four-piece band, gang of be-suited black security guards (Nation of Islam?) and extended entourage took position: To “O Fortuna,” but with lyrics, I'm almost certain, not in Latin, but in Snoop-ese. Of course.
In person, he's just as tall and gangly as you've imagined, but more so. Holding a massive blinged-out microphone, with a protective shield covering his hand, he stalked around the stage smoothly, but when he shuffled or waved his stick arms from side to side, it was awkward like when NBA players try to dance. Too much arm and leg to carry the rhythm.
He makes it work for him. The man's been doing shows for more than 15 years, so it's no surprise that he's learned to work a stage. His flow, as appealingly slow and drawled out as ever, never got overwhelmed, even with a lot going on in the background, where the four-piece Snoopadelics, a DJ and hype-men Daz and Kurupt operated [that's right, old-school heads, the original DPG (!), minus, sort of crucially, Nate Dogg]. In fact, mixing a DJ with a live band — and able hype men — should be the model for all big hip-hop shows. It's a foundation of the familiar with a welcome layer of spontaneity on top.
Otherwise, the familiar was sort of the theme, thankfully. We got nearly all the party-staples —“Gin and Juice,” “That's That,” “Drop It Like it's Hot,” “What's My Name.” The nearly forgotten update on the Gap Band's “Oops Upside Your Head,” “Snoops Upside Your Head,” came with an extra dose of Snoop singing, impressively, “Just because just because you don't believe that I wanna dance /Don't mean that I don't want to,” while his 60-something-year-old Uncle Junebug did some old-school steps. Later, Snoop borrowed another soul trope, a Barry White-style “this is for the ladies” intro that's not really printable herein, to open “Sexual Eruption.”
He also got the crowd to throw its “A's” with much success, offered that all the world needs is “peace, love and Snoop dub” and closed his set with an exhortation to “smoke weed.” Ah, enlightenment.