Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, The Game, Warren G, Xzibit, The Dogg Pound
Better than… A beep from Kim
Lest you think 21 years out G-funk would have lost some freshness, the titans of west coast hip hop showed Saturday night that original gangster rap has no expiration date. Minus Dre, Eazy-E and Nate Dogg (the latter two dead, the former dead to us), the all-time greatest L.A. lineup came and showed us a thing or two — though there were hiccups.
We arrived in the middle of Xzibit's set, which we attribute to piss-poor parking management and the local authorities taking away partied-out kids on stretchers. Xzibit proceeded to shout-out to everyone who had been “down” since day one. We hollered, respectfully.
To paraphrase the name of the show, would you really like to know how the west was won? Kurupt, hands down. We don't know when that guy rested all night. After Xzibit took off, Kurupt and Daz — Tha Dogg Pound — laid it all out. Kurupt was completely unfuckwitable. With more shout outs to the West Coast, they emphasized, “New York ain't always what it seems.” Truth.
A spate of KDAY DJ's then threw on some of their favorite records. There were typical nods to Compton, Long Beach, and Inglewood. We didn't hold our respective breaths for Silver Lake. However, a fedora-wearing pink-shirted white guy with a sweater rakishly draped over his shoulders shouted for Compton as he flashed gang signs. No one blinked.
At this point, there was a long-ass delay. Rumors were flying among various handlers and PR that The Game was late and wouldn't perform without his entire entourage — he was a headliner, after all. Some sort of compromise was reached and he finally came out and killed it. After requisite nods to Biggie and Tupac, he marveled at his own success: “All I wanted from this was an apartment and a TV so I could play Madden. Look at me now.” He did his own version of “Boyz-n-the Hood” before slaying “Red Nation” and then Lil' Wayne's “Faded.”
The venue's bars entirely ran out of beer sometime during Game's set, and many of us were forced to consider gin mixed with orange juice as a viable alternative. All told, not a bad decision — when in Rome, right?
Ice Cube followed Game with his Westside Connection partner, WC. They mixed up a solid best of set including “Bow Down” (obviously) and “Gangster Nation.” At 10:14 pm on the dot, there was a chronic break onstage. Personally, we'd likely smoked three to four joints by merely breathing — the crowd was hazy and we couldn't erase our inadvertent shit-eating stoner grins.
Midway through the set, two odd-looking piles on the stage burst into inflatable hands sporting W's. Cube's good-natured goofiness undercut the whole Spinal Tap-ness of the situation. They deftly explained, “Why We Thugs,” but with a with a minor flub by WC. Cube defended his partner, “Y'all gotta forgive Dub-C, he's a victim of the L.A. Unified School District.” No harm, WC. They closed with a “Today Was a Good Day” that blew minds and melted thuggy hearts.
Snoop's opening hype of the orchestral “O Fortuna” probably set the bar a little too high (no pun intended). While his sound was absolutely enormous — including two DJs and a full band — he, himself, seemed a little faded. Among many weed breaks, he demonstrated his true genius as a shepherd of talent, bringing out a variety of G-Funk All Stars, who included The Dove Shack — with their somewhat lost classic “Summertime in the LBC” — and Twinz for “Round and Round.” Kurupt and Daz never really left the stage, and effectively held up any sag in energy or flow.
Warren G came out for “I'm Fly” and after some further mixing, the entire crew performed a spot on “Ain't No Fun.” Snoop's stage mascot, a costumed Nasty Dogg, waved a massive plush dog penis for effect. Gin, juice and contact high turned that into a giggling fit of epic proportions.
While Warren G's writing is great, his stage presence didn't add up to much at first, and he was quickly eclipsed by the monumental arrival of Pomona pimp, Suga Free. Free made us all his bottom bitch with his “Why You Bullshittin” and a lethal “Bring it On.” Warren then pulled it back together for “Regulate” with Snoop on the Nate Dogg parts. To close out the evening, a solo Snoop sang his and Wiz Khalifa's lullaby “Young, Wild, and Free.”
Gangsters, ranging from aspiring to long-retired, moped their way out slowly, some likely to the East Side Motel, but many to the Valley and beyond. All told, Saturday was a stony night of West Coast love that couldn't be undone by jackers, busters, or fools of any kind.
Personal bias: Barring a few blips, I actually have been “down,” more or less, since day one.
Overheard in the crowd: Lots of noise, as per the request of every MC several times over.
Random notebook dump: “Is it possible that Nasty Dogg's giant phallus is a direct reference to the minor Greek fertility god, Priapus? Or am I'm higher than a pimp on payday? I'd like to think it's a little of both.”