Snoop Dogg, Forum, London
Friday 20 May 2011
Even the Snoop faithful were impatient at his late arrival, around 10.20pm, whistling and booing at the empty stage. When he did stroll on in his customary casual manner, the "King of the West Coast" was instantly forgiven.
This was his first appearance since the ending of a visa ban imposed after an affray at Heathrow airport in 2006. With him on stage were Tha Dogg Pound – Daz Dillinger and Kurupt – who have contributed to his success since his 1993 debut album, Doggystyle, a classic in the hip-hop world and by far his best to date. Over the intervening years, Snoop's popularity has broadened with clever targeted marketing at a mainstream audience that has added a young upwardly mobile element to his original hardcore audience. It was to this that his new album, Doggumentary, is largely aimed.
For his singles, "Sweat", and "Peer Pressure", he included three female dancers who cavorted with him in a suggestive way that became frankly tiresome. More successful and certainly more popular with the mainstay of the audience were his revisiting of old classics such as "Gin and Juice", "Ain't No Fun" and "Doggy Dogg World" in which Daz and Kurupt's rapport were reminiscent of what made Snoop's name, and changed the face of hip-hop.
As well as his standard tributes to Tupac Shakur and Biggie Smalls, Snoop also included a heartfelt dedication to Nate Dogg, one of the original members of Snoop's crew who died in March after a series of strokes. Snoop and Tha Pound bowed their heads to a Nate Dogg verse. The music stopped for Snoop to pronounce sadly, "Nate Dogg, rest in peace my brother."
Huge singles like "Drop It Like It's Hot" and "P.I.M.P." pleased all sections of fans though often when he introduced his new material, there were sighs and mutters from the old guard.
The smell of weed emanating from the crowd is customary at a Snoop gig, and this was no exception and encouraged from the stage. By now, dressed in what looked to be a QPR shirt, Snoop ended with "What's My Name?" from Doggystyle, which had the main floor jumping around in delight. It was symptomatic of the fact that Snoop has managed, by way of a lovable persona and untouchable singles, to garner a new and growing popularity without losing his core support. No one left disappointed.
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