Snoop Dogg at Soundset, 5/26/13
Photo by Erik Hess
"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.
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.
Photo by Erik Hess
Once Snoop said "Fuck it!" and dropped the beat finally, the song continued to not work, but at least the stage made for a visual frenzy. Suga Free returned to shimmy in the back, the girls danced with tight energy, and everyone in the crowd gave it one last go before they filed out. Bob Marley's "Jammin'" played over the speakers as Snoop urged his audience one last time to "smoke weed, motherfuckers!" leaving an unsure feeling of what Rastafarianism means to Snoop and the bros in the audience. The set overall was pretty tight and very well-performed, but started and ended on poorly chosen points that brought something mostly solid down a notch.
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