A little more than halfway through his set on Sunday night at Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre, Snoop Dogg took a drag off a suspicious-looking cigarette before explaining in no uncertain terms the thrust of his 2017 tour (aka the Mount Kushmore Wellness Retreat).
“It’s about spreadin’ love, showin’ love, showin’ up, smokin’ good weed, smokin’ good weed, showin’ love, smokin’ good weed, and smokin’ some more good weed,” the 45-year-old hip-hop star drawled, with a grin, while behind dark shades I suspect there were bloodshot eyes twinkling.
Did he deliver on his promise? Check out these nine observations/musings/compliments/criticisms about the concert and decide for yourself.
1. In other cities, the bill for this tour has included Cypress Hill, Wiz Khalifa and Method Man & Redman. Lots of hip-hop heads and potheads would have stumbled out to the venue early to catch any of those guys. Instead, we got Clay James, Berner, and Flatbush Zombies. So few showed up for the first two of those that when they shouted to the crowd to make some noise, I could count on two hands the number of people who actually did.
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2. By the time Flatbush Zombies took the stage, though, a big, boisterous crowd had formed. Unfortunately, so had a storm system. For the last 10 minutes of the New York trio’s otherwise-killer opening set – which, speaking of Method Man, offers shades of Wu Tang Clan in its prime – a steady rain fell. And since the only covered part of the amphitheater is the stage, the shower sent fans scrambling for cover, briefly dampening both concertgoers’ spirits and cherries at the end of their various types of cigarettes.
3. As for the spreadin’ love part of the equation, once Snoop took the stage, a lot of that love was focused on the artist’s female fans; he shouted-out both “the sexy ladies in the house” (before launching into 2007 club banger “Sensual Seduction”) and later (as he wound down his part of Wiz Khalifa’s “You and Your Friends”) gave it up for “the big girls in the house tonight, ’cause big girls need love, too.” I, uh... well... at least he didn’t use the word “fat”?
4. Snoop also expressed nothing but love for a parade of past collaborators as he covered – back-to-back-to-back – the late Nate Dogg’s “Ain’t No Fun,” the late Notorious B.I.G.’s “Hypnotize” and “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted,” for which he originally teamed with the late Tupac Shakur in 1996. A few songs later, he performed part of “Boyz-n-the-Hood” as a tribute to the late Eazy-E, the same rapper Snoop and Dr. Dre eviscerated in a diss track (“Dre Day”) back in 1993.
5. As an aside: Eazy died at 30 in 1995, 2Pac died at 25 in 1996, Biggie at 24 in 1997, Nate Dogg at 41 in 2011. Although the crowd’s excitement shone through during those covers, the net effect was an unsettling reminder of how hazardous hip-hop can be to one’s health.
6. Despite the fact that he’s got a new album coming out May 19 (“Neva Left”), Snoop resisted what was probably a very strong temptation to populate his set with a bunch of new music. Only once did he say the six words few hope to hear at old-school rap shows: “Here’s some new s--- for y’all.” Instead, he leaned heavily – and smartly – on nostalgia, turning the joint into one giant pulsating house party by cueing up several songs from the early ’90s (in addition to the aforementioned covers, he did his part of Dr. Dre collaboration “Nuthin’ but a G Thang,” solo hits “What’s My Name?” and “Gin and Juice,” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around”).
7. His vocals sounded near-studio-quality, and I was relieved that he still doesn’t fall into the trap lots of R&Bers and hip-hoppers fall into, where they rely heavily on backing tracks to mask their shortcomings. Snoop protege October London did some backup singing, and longtime Snoop collaborator Kurupt was around to help out, but we came to hear Snoop and we definitely heard Snoop.
8. Honestly, though, it would have been nice to hear him for a bit longer. All told, he was on stage for just 63 minutes. He cut short several tracks by a verse or two, and for the closer – “Young, Wild & Free” – he basically just led the crowd in a downtempo singalong of the chorus, over and over, without touching his tongue-twisting verse (Zip in the safe, flippin’ for pay, tippin’ like I’m drippin’ in paint...).
9. Right before “Young, Wild & Free,” Snoop finally removed the sunglasses he’d kept on his face the entire night, and said, “I want y’all to take a good look at this face right here, ’cause this ain’t the last time you’ll see it. I will be back to Charlotte, North Carolina anytime you mutha------ want.” Then he took another puff from another suspicious-looking cigarette while I obliged by taking a good look at his face – quickly coming to a conclusion that shouldn’t surprise you at all: He was high. Very, very high.
Snoop Dogg’s Charlotte set list
1. “I Wanna Rock”
2. “Tha Shiznit”
4. “All I Do Is Win”
5. “You and Your Friends”
6. “The Next Episode”
7. “Nuthin’ but a ‘G’ Thang”
8. “B---- Please”
9. “Promise You This”
11. “Sensual Seduction”
12. “I Wanna F--- You”
13. “Ain’t No Fun”
15. “2 of Amerikaz Most Wanted”
16. “Driving Me to Drink” (October London)
17. “Gin and Juice”
20. “Jump Around”
21. “Drop It Like It’s Hot”
22. “What’s My Name?”
23. “Young, Wild & Free”