Review: Snoop Dogg Aka Snoop Lion

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snoop lionA Snoop Dogg concert is not about the party. It’s about an indulgence in hip hop old and new, smoothly blended with Snoop’s distinctly velvet delivery of rap. The concert at Grand West’s Grand Arena last night was a concert about absorbing the rhythms and taking everything in.  In return Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion proved he could take us back by letting it all out.

Ashton Abels from UCT Radio performed a half an hour DJ set to kick the evening off, squeezing old favourite hip hop tracks from the last two decades into one playlist – definitely warming up the crowd for what was to come. The house lights still shone, and the sound wasn’t at its prime volume and quality. But of course, that would all progress before the main act made it onto the stage.

Jack Parow didn’t speak a word of English throughout his performance, but this being Cape Town, the crowd understood his unique blend of Afrikaans, “aweh,” and a copious amount of profanities. Parow is his own hype man, and the energy he and his band project to the audience is extensive. Guitarist Louwtjie Rothman was a delight – his obvious talent and passion for each of Parow’s songs making his vibe infectious. They got the crowd jumping with tracks like ‘Hosh Tokolosh’ and ‘Dans Dans Dans’. Jack Parow is not only creative in his songs (there really is no one like him on the South African market, apart from, of course, Die Antwoord) but utterly hilarious as an entertainer. It’s a great combination of traits to blend.

I wondered what Snoop Lion was doing back stage. Does Snoop get nervous? Well, after seeing his cool and collected entrance onto the stage, that seemed highly unlikely. His refined confidence and gangster-persona sent a thrill through the audience as he strolled out with a blinged-out mic and much-too-big leather jacket. Despite the name modification, the man himself hasn’t changed, and his voice and pronunciation are still distinctly Snoop.  All that’s missing are the dog’s pigtails – replaced with dreadlocks of the lion (and – did I see? – a few grey hairs in his beard).

It was like reliving my childhood where sitting in my room with my cassette player bumping ‘Who Am I’ was the norm. By far the most memorable moment was when, after the crowd had engaged in a united bounce to ‘Jump Around’, Snoop stopped the music and said, “Now that I’ve gotten ya’ll to jump around, what I really, really want you to do is…” and the baseline of ‘Drop it like it’s Hot’ filled the Arena and vibrated our bodies to the core. The perfect build up to my all time favourite of Snoop’s tracks.

Sound and lighting was the standard set up for concert productions, though everything else on stage was relatively simple.  Three female dancers strutted their stuff during selected songs, and also performed a sexy routine after Snoop beat a hasty retreat for an abruptly announced ‘smoke break’. Now here’s a man who does whatever he wants. Note to self: never go on a date with Snoop Dogg. He may be the epitome of cool, but I can’t say the same for being courteous.

Having said that, this rough, tough, weed-smoking, gangster rapper does have the workings of a man with a passion for the wellbeing and peace of humanity. In tribute to the recent shootings in America, ‘No Guns Allowed’ was performed from his latest album Reincarnated – also promoting his transition from ‘Dogg’ to ‘Lion’. It’s a positive message to send, and he is deserving of the respect he receives.

To end off, Snoop encouraged the crowd to sing along to ‘Young, Wild and Free’ with just its signature piano melody as support. Lighters and cell phones (yes, though we relived the 90s through him, we couldn’t escape the fact that we are in the year 2013) were raised and waved as he performed his final song that not just the young can relate to. After all, if you aren’t living young, wild and free, it’s probably because you already have.

Kristan Wood

Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion performed at the Grand Arena, GrandWest on 21 May 2013. See our photos from the concert here.

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