Snoop Dogg, Kendrick Lamar, J. Cole, Miguel, Schoolboy Q
It may feel like summer all year long in L.A., but there's still something special about summer in L.A.
On Saturday night at Staples Center Snoop Dogg and Kendrick Lamar co-headlined as part of the BET Experience event: a series of concerts, events, and parties preceding the BET Awards at the Nokia Theatre last night.
Lamar's crewmate Schoolboy Q kicked things off promptly at 7 pm; hardly anyone had arrived yet, and they either didn't know Q's music or didn't want to get out of their seats yet. Still, Q enthusiastically ripped raucous hits like “Hands on the Wheel” and “There He Go,” in addition to the anthemic “Yay Yay.”
Before Miguel's performance, hordes of female concertgoers filed in. He was the ladies' favorite act, naturally, and not just because he didn't crush anyone's head. At the first chords of “Kaleidoscope Dream” two girls in the stands screamed so loudly you could hear them over the music on the floor.
Miguel hit high note after high note while dancing and running all over the stage. What surprised us most was Miguel's rapping. He competently performed Tupac's “I Get Around” before using the end of the first verse as a segue to “Quickie.” It showed, if nothing else, that he loves L.A. and knows his hip-hop.
Next up was J. Cole. Many attendees knew his catalogue well. However, tracks that got the crowd going, probably to his chagrin (see “Let Nas Down”), were his old radio singles “Work Out” and “Can't Get Enough.”
Cole also brought out D.C. rapper Wale at one point to perform his single “Bad.” Wale's performance wasn't mind-blowing, but was well received.
Recently returned from the road, Kendrick Lamar looked happy to be home. Sticking exclusively to material from his now platinum good kid, m.A.A.d city, he put one of the best performances we've ever seen from him, his delivery full of energy and urgency.
The saxophone on “Poetic Justice” and the guitars of “Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe” proved live bands are best for stadium concerts. For the latter track, comedian Mike Epps, who appears in the song's music video, ran on stage to dance as Lamar rapped. It was hilarious, and the smile on Lamar's face was wide.
Still, a majority of Lamar's songs are sobering listens, honest, introspective, and a little melancholic. Before he left, Lamar shouted, “L.A. — we are Kendrick Lamar.” The crowd cheered, though some may not realize that “Swimming Pools (Drank)” is actually an anti-drinking song.
But, in any case, Snoop was quick to bring the party vibe back.
Introduced simply as “Snoop” (no Lion), he came out to the sound of cymbals and gongs. His Adidas track suit was emblazoned with an air brushed picture of himself, and aside from three back-up dancers, Snoop also had his own mascot: Nasty Dogg, a costumed dog familiar from many Snoop albums, carrying a giant stuffed blunt and swinging a neon green penis. (?)
Snoop had top notch guests, including Dr. Dre, with whom her performed classics like “Nuthin' but a 'G' Thang” and “Next Episode” while the audience went wild. Dre seemed a little reserved (aside from events like Coachella, he doesn't perform much anymore), but chemistry the two of them felt good.
See also: Leave Snoop Lion Alone
Snoop even brought out people he doesn't have songs with, like Future, who performed “Same Damn Time.” And though most of us in attendance probably aren't going to wake up in a luxury car anytime soon, we couldn't wait to scream the chorus of “Bugatti” when Ace Hood came out to assist Future.
Then, with the image of Nate Dogg (R.I.P.) on the screen behind him, Warren G came out for “Regulate”. And with Daz Dillinger and Kurupt on stage, KDAY staples like “Ain't No Fun” and “Who Ride Wit Us” had everyone singing along.
Snoop also proceeded to bring out Trinidad James, Problem, and Wiz Khalifa to perform their respective hits. In the end, Snoop probably did about as much dancing as rapping, and folks had no complaints.
The Crowd: Nearly every type of Angeleno imaginable.
Random Notebook-Dump: They confiscated our gum, but people had no problem sparking trees when rappers asked them to do so.