View more photos in Timothy Norris' "Snoop Dogg, DJ Quick @ Club Nokia" slideshow.
Jay-z once said, "Rap is a young man's game... you gotta have a plan for when it's over." Nice words, Hova, but for quintessential West Coast rapper Snoop Dogg the game goes on. At D-O-double-G's performance at the Club Nokia, the prototypical West Coast rapper dropped his classic cuts, old school covers, and hosted a cameo cavalcade that wasn't just a rap show: it was Snoop Dogg's Variety Hour.
There was the Tupac tribute, the choreographed dancers dropping it like it was hot, and throwback collaborations featuring Lady of Rage, Xxibit, and hip hop pioneer Too $hort. Snoop wielded his greatest hits, "Gin and Juice," "Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang," "Who Am I (Whats My Name)," and some new tracks from his upcoming release, "Malice in Wonderland." The crowd exploded for the classics, rapping along as if everyone had pocketfuls of rubbers.
But make no mistake, this isn't the Snoop of the Doggystyle era.
The vision of Snoop wielding a gun with a pit bull and six-four Impalas is over. Slithering on stage in front of a live band--wearing a kaftan or extra-long dashiki [Ed.'s note: looks like an adult-onesie to us], sunglasses, and brandishing a blinged out mic-- this is Snoop version 2.0, the one he reinvented for the new millennium.
When compared to the aggro-rap stage styles of his 90's contemporaries, its clear why Snoop rose to the top. When Lady of Rage digs into "Afro Puffs," or Xzibit barks on "Bitch Please," Snoop's laid-back flow seems that much more smooth. Even though he rapped about thug life, his behind-the-beat, lazy delivery made the most gangsta of raps palatable to the masses.
Now, rapping seems like such a small part of Corporation Snoop. His identity was solidified in the early nineties, then reinvented in the early 2000s as a spaced-out, baby-talking relative of Bootsy Collins. Snoop owes much to P-Funk--especially his most popular hits--but on the packed stage of Club Nokia, it's apparent that he may be turning into Funkadelic.
And somewhere along the line, he got a little weird.
Like many rappers pushing 40, Snoop is a caricature of himself. His appearances on talk shows, soap operas, movies, and video games, either portray the guy he was 16 years ago or the stoner millionaire that he is today. Like Ozzy Osbourne, who once was feared and is now a sad clown, Snoop's identity has suffered from media saturation and extreme access.
Snoop has said that his reality show, Snoop Dogg's Father Hood, was an attempt to show his ordinary side: his kids, his wife, his life off the road. But, though clearly staged for TV, increasing exposure takes away from the mystery. It's hard to effuse gangsta bravado onstage at Club Nokia, when everyone's seen Snoop Dogg's suburban mansion.
"This isn't how Biggie, or Tupac, or Easy E would be if they were around today," audience member, Rene "Chips" Rosas explained. "But I love Snoop anyway."
Unlike many rappers, however, Snoop seems really comfortable with his persona. His new material is basically pop music created by hot producers, where he chimes in on a verse or two. Still, there are few better rap albums than Doggystyle, and Snoop himself might well be a national treasure. Regardless of how Snoop decides to reinvent himself for the next 17 (or 37) years of his career, one thing is certain: there's no stopping the Snoop.
[More pictures of fans. L.L. Cool Snoop, apparently.]
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!