Snoop Dogg at Soundset, 5/26/13

Photo by Erik Hess
Snoop Lion Dogg 
Soundset Festival, Canterbury Park
Sunday, May 26, 2013

For the first time in Soundset history, Atmosphere took the second-to-last slot, making way for the West Coast gangsta legend Snoop Dogg. A transition toward reggae music prompted a name change to Snoop Lion recently, but this was definitely a set from the Dogg, focusing on classic crowd-pleasers with some modern material sprinkled in.

See Also:
Review: Atmosphere at Soundset, 5/26/13
Soundset 2013: A music and photo timeline
Soundset 2013 - Awesome People and Scenes

Slideshow: Soundset 2013 - The Music

"I don't care what they say, there is no better MC in the game right now," Soundset main stage host Sway Calloway declared as his introduction to the grand finale. "He's a national treasure." Anticipation rose out of the gigantic crowd as "California Love" and "Still D.R.E." blasted from the speakers to prepare us for Snoop's emergence, but there was some nervousness once the trailer for Reincarnated played. The documentary which chronicles Snoop's foray into Rastafarian culture, and the style switch that accompanied, led into the first track "Here Comes the King," a decent enough stab at reggae influence that made it a bit unclear what we were about to see. Complete with rastacap and a personalized bejeweled microphone, Snoop's presence was felt even without a lot of movement on his end, and once "Tha Shiznit" dropped, it was clear this was going to indeed be a rap show.

Snoop worked through an odd smattering of material that swung between his classic G-funk tracks to newer material like "All I Do Is Win" and his verse on Katy Perry's "California Girls," which made the set seem somewhat schizophrenic at times. At one point he inexplicably did a cover of House of Pain's "Jump Around" -- probably just to see the insane reaction from a feverish crowd of leaping fans. When tracks like "The Next Episode" dropped, a sea of people showed their appreciation for what is a pretty solid body of work for an artist 20 years in the game.


Photos by Erik Hess
An oddly chaotic stage show came to include a dancing elderly man, a giant "Nasty Dogg" cartoon dog mascot complete with neon green shoes, a trio of lap-dancers, and some surprise guests -- namely Kurupt and Suga Free. Kurupt came out somewhat unannounced but did bang-up renditions of "Let's Get High" and "We Can Freak It" while Snoop stood there and smoked a blunt. Suga Free's presence was completely unexpected, and he ran through a pair of his pimp classics for an audience that seemed to not be entirely familiar. Perhaps the ultimate example of the aesthetic divide that Soundset brought together in one place, Suga Free ran through his infectiously gritty Street Gospel tracks while Snoop joined in underneath like a fan mouthing along the words. 

Snoop still has a tight grasp on pure technical ability, and didn't rely on backing tracks in the same way others during the day had. He's still got that smooth-talking and smoky style that garnered everyone's love from the beginning, and it was impressive to watch him hit those high points even if he failed to really move around a whole lot. At one point he actually sat down, in order to receive a lap dance from his three dancers, who later changed from bikinis into tracksuits -- because this sure as shit is not Cali, and it was cold as hell. Still, his stage presence is already light years above a lot of rappers simply because of who he is, and he looks and sounds like he has not aged since his heyday. This was a really well-chosen headliner, and the crowd unanimously poured their final bouts of energy into dancing and singing along.

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