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First Night: Snoop Dogg

"How many people in the house tonight like to smoke weed?" Well, judging from the response, Snoop, quite a few. Now let me ask you a question, Dogg: what's with all the big guys dressed in suits, eh? You said it yourself -- hanging with da Boss D-O-Double-G is all about "peace, love, and soul", so why not ditch the bodyguards and get real with us, fo shizzle? You know we be down with the Doggy Fizzle Lizzle, Bizzle ... okay, enough of that sh*te.

What's perhaps most surprising about hanging with 38-year-old Cordozar Calvin Broadus and his homies for an evening of lady lovin', rizla-wrapped, funk-tinged hip hop is that the West Coast maestro actually makes his audience feel like they're at a concert, and not just some oversized nightclub.

Let's face it, hip hop -- no matter how interesting or engaging the artist sounds on CD -- doesn't always survive the transition from stereo speakers to the live stage. And, while it would be wrong to label most fans of the genre as, uh ... how do I put this ... troublesome, it's a well known fact that gigs like this tend to attract a rather, erm, dodgy crowd. And that's being kind.

However, it's nice to be proven wrong sometimes. Indeed, regardless of how many times Snoop request that we remind him what his name is, it's clear that the guy is keen to walk in the (giant) footsteps of Brooklyn's finest, Mr Jay Z; ie, he may look, dress, and sound like a rapper, but this is one dude who might finally have realised the joys of being a rock star, too.

For example, the live band? Nice move, man -- especially with the drummer, whose slick yet unexpectedly heavy playing added a fresh and most welcome spin to the likes of Gin And Juice and Drop It Like It's Hot.



anticipation

Furthermore, our main attraction boasts the kind of smooth yet effective delivery too often lost on many of his stuttering peers as soon as they find themselves planted in front of a crowd.

His lyrics may not be the most intelligent ever put to paper, but it's in the way he presents himself as a bona fide legend of the game that makes us watch Snoop's every movement with great anticipation that something amazing is about to happen in front of our eyes.

That it never does isn't surprising, but all that swagger and pomp sure is convincing, and for a rapper of Snoop's image-conscious nature to command such genuine respect away from the glamorous universe of MTV is quite extraordinary, too.

There are no bells, whistles, or half-naked women in this scene, lads -- just a diamond encrusted microphone, used to provide 70 minutes of decent live entertainment (the perfect running time, if you ask me).

Do we like to get drunk? Will we put our hands in the air and bounce? Any other day, I'd happily complain about the sheer ludicrousness of it all but, really, who can argue with that cheeky grin when its owner is capable of a tune like the infectious Signs or the hilarious Sensual Seduction?

Good on ya Snoop -- it certainly beats the hell outta' Fiddy.


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