Here’s how Snoop Dogg introduced himself earlier this year, at the beginning of his eighth on-camera convo with the supremely quirky interviewer Nardwuar the Human Serviette: “My name is Snoop Dogg ... gangster rapper, actor, father, football coach, philanthropist.”
That intro was far from comprehensive, but at least it began to sum up the extent of the 45-year-old’s transcendent existence. In fact, in 2016, Snoop’s cultural import is arguably at its all-time peak, simply because he becomes more deeply ingrained in the history of American pop culture by the year. Needless to say, he’s also one of the most important icons of hip-hop’s explosion into the mainstream in the ‘90s.
The same can more or less be said of the other main acts who performed at the Puff Puff Pass Tour’s stop at Maplewood venue Myth this past Friday, the latest in a line of hot-ticket rap shows at the venue.
Those acts? Cali duo Tha Dogg Pound, Chicago native Twista, and Cleveland quintet Bone Thugs-n-Harmony, who performed in that order. Twista actually stepped in place of originally scheduled performers Warren G and DJ Quik, and while Quik would’ve been an especially exciting presence considering that he’s making some of the most acclaimed music of his career in his 40s (!), it was nevertheless a night of hip-hop royalty.
Tha Dogg Pound, consisting of Daz Dillinger and Kurupt, was the first of the main acts to take the stage. Though DPG have experienced massive commercial success in the past, an uninitiated Puff Puff Pass Tour attendee wouldn’t have been able to guess as much, as the only song they performed that excited a large portion of the audience was “For All My Niggaz and Bitches,” a DPG-featuring cut off Snoop’s beyond-classic 1993 debut, Doggystyle.
Through no real fault of their own, DPG’s set reminded me of seeing Ghostface Killah and Raekwon perform at Soundset in 2012, when those Wu-Tang Clan MCs did their thing but weren’t as embraced as they should’ve been. It’s possible that things might’ve gone better for DPG had they incorporated more of their recent material, like their Schoolboy Q collaborations “The Purge” (featuring Kurupt) and “Big Body” (featuring both DPG members).
There was undoubtedly disappointment among the crowd that neither Warren G nor DJ Quik were going to perform after all. But when Twista took the stage and attacked the immortal title track of his 1997 album Adrenaline Rush, it was pretty much all good. Additionally, the crowd responded to his old hits “Overnight Celebrity” and “So Sexy” like it was 2004 all over again, and his Kanye West/Jamie Foxx collab “Slow Jamz” won’t be dying anytime soon, either. (And yes, that last song’s most memorable lines -- “She got a light-skinned friend, look like Michael Jackson / Got a dark-skinned friend, look like Michael Jackson” -- are still crowd-pleasers, to say the least.)
After Twista finished up, it was time for one of the acts who were originally scheduled to perform: Bone Thugs. Overall, theirs was the most energetic set of the night, with all five members showing that, despite conflicts among them over the years, they can still come together and deliver a well-executed set. It helps that their music has aged extraordinary well, mostly due to their songs’ timeless layers of melody. The group took time to pay tribute to their collaborators and fallen rap icons Eazy-E, 2Pac, and the Notorious B.I.G., and while those three guys may be more legendary than Bone Thugs in the grand scheme of things, their set served as evidence that they’re all-time greats, too.
Another act whose early music has aged pretty well? Snoop Dogg, who performed song after instantly recognizable song, from his first G-funk classics to more recent hits like his Katy Perry collab “California Gurls” and the lovably cheesy “Young, Wild & Free” (with Wiz Khalifa and Bruno Mars). At times, Snoop looked a little stiff and sluggish, which wasn’t all that surprising considering that it was getting close to midnight and he had presumably smoked countless enervating blunts earlier in the day.
Nonetheless, the crowd’s enthusiasm and collective familiarity with the songs he performed kept excitement levels high throughout Myth, a relatively small space compared to some of the arenas the Puff Puff Pass Tour has recently visited. It was the inevitable result of an audience mesmerized by the presence of a world-class party-starter in a relatively intimate setting.
Critic’s bias: Friday night was my first time seeing Bone Thugs in concert, and since they’re one of my favorite rap groups of all time, I was inevitably going to spit along to songs like “Tha Crossroads,” “1st of tha Month,” and “Notorious Thugs.”
The crowd: As old as rap-show audiences get, with plenty of attendees in their 40s and even 50s. It was also a particularly drunken crowd, and dozens of blunt-smokers did their thing, too.
Overheard in the crowd: “Does this dude play for the Timberwolves or something? What the fuck?” said a guy gesturing toward an attendee who had to have been at least 6-foot-8.
Random notebook dump: Bone Thugs’ “Budsmokers Only” is a better weed song than the one that’s actually titled “Weed Song.”
Check out more photos from the show here.