While he’s still as busy as ever dropping albums and pointing a camera at his peculiar friendship with Martha Stewart, Snoop Dogg’s music career just can’t seem to escape the 1990s and early 2000s.
After his latest show Thursday at Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Airway Heights, it begs the question: Why should it? Snoop doesn’t see a problem. And neither did the thousands in the stands.
But nostalgia doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface. Performing a setlist that featured just a handful of his own tracks – all of them released when every rapper’s name didn’t begin with “Lil” – Snoop spent the better part of his quick hour onstage paying tribute to the legends of rap.
N.W.A. Notorious B.I.G. Dr. Dre. Even Katy Perry – all there in spirit, and one in the flesh.
Veteran rapper Warren G, who opened for the nearly sold-out crowd when he took the stage close to 7:30 p.m., oftentimes returned onstage after his set to back up an old friend. Known as one of the pioneers of West Coast hip hop, Warren G never quite broke into the mainstream, save for his single “Regulate,” featuring longtime collaborate Nate Dogg, for which the two were nominated for a Grammy in 1995.
Warren’s set was lively enough, if not short, clocking in at just over 30 minutes. Didn’t matter to the crowd, though – when he told them to sing along, they sang. And when he drank from his Corona, they cheered. And toasted, of course, some with a puff of thick, white and skunky smoke.
Then, just as the sun set around 9, Snoop emerged. Just a smidgen of fog preceding him, accompanied by two small laptops on a large table and a microphone. Throw in a few backup dancers, and it was all he needed for a good time. If only beer cups and phones could talk, the things they’d say when held high above hundreds of heads.
The show started with a videomontage set to 1993’s “Tha Shiznit,” with quick cuts showcasing his many tours in the nearly three decades he’s been making music. Perhaps a videomaking tip he picked up from a “Ghost” and “Titanic” spoof he shot with Stewart.
He quickly moved on to DJ Khaled’s “All I Do Is Win,” then to 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” It was a blink-and-you-miss-it-pace with songs cut down to half their runtime. But the crowd, ever so liquored up, didn’t seem to mind. Neither did the two female dancers showcasing an impressive amount of stamina.
It wasn’t until about the 10th song in – after Perry’s “California Girls” – that Snoop sang a mega from his own material, and what better way than his 2000 collaboration with Dr. Dre on “The Next Episode.” In typical Snoop fashion, he did so only after taking a long toke from a blunt.
“Everybody having a good time tonight?” he said, before lighting up.
And halfway through, another pull, as the music cut out and the crowd replaced the absence of noise with a long, approving cheer.
In between each tune, Snoop would stop briefly to hype up the crowd. Though, intentional or not, he referred to Spokane as Spo-Cane, with a hard “a.” Some might say a pass is warranted, however, because soon after he played Akon’s “I Wanna Love You” (the real, more vulgar name, of which can’t be printed in this family-friendly newspaper), complete with a quartet of women dressed as strippers sliding up and down metal poles erected on the side of the stage.
It’s safe to say the crowd dug it.
“I could be anywhere, but I chose to be in Spokane tonight,” he said coyly. “So make some noise.”
In keeping with the 16-and-up age limit, for “Ain’t No Fun (If The Homies Can’t Have None),” a dog mascot walked onstage holding a large, black you-know-what. It waved it around for the entirety of the song.
“Nasty dog, nasty dog,” Snoop said at the end. “Put that away.”
Then, with hardly any minds on their money, Snoop played “Gin and Juice,” the hit that launched his career and helped further the point that, yes, West Coast rap can contend with New York. Tupac’s death wasn’t in vain.
Before stringing together a series of covers for his closing songs with Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around,” he played a quick tribute to Los Angeles rapper Nipsey Hussle, who was fatally shot in March.
“I will be back to Spokane,” he said. Truer words couldn’t be spoken, seeing how he was set to play a second show Friday night, which sold out, at the same location. The last time he was in the Lilac City, it was to visit a weed store, not play music.
Fittingly, and maybe so nobody went home with a heavy conscious, he had the crowd do the heavy lifting in singing “Young, Wild and Free,” the track that closed out the show about 10.
So what they got drunk? So what they smoked weed? They’re just having fun and don’t care who sees.
“So what we go out,” their voices rang. “That’s how it’s supposed to be.”
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