The 48-year-old rapper, who performed at The Fillmore Philadelphia on Saturday night, has been releasing music since 1992, when his debut Doggystyle announced him as one of the major figures of what was then truly becoming mainstream hip-hop. In the time since, he’s beefed with NWA rapper Eazy-E, linked up with Death Row Records founder Suge Knight and performed with everyone from Tupac to Nipsey Hussle. Three of those men are dead, and the other, Knight, is property of the state until at least 2037. His cousin and frequent collaborator, Nate Dogg, died in 2011.
Snoop’s performed in dozens of movies, been to jail, briefly changed his name to Snoop Lion, hosted a television show with Martha Stewart and hawked everything from male enhancement pills to AOL 9.0 discs. He’s had three No. 1 albums, and has achieved worldwide recognition.
Snoop Dogg, born Calvin Broadus Jr. in Long Beach, Calif., has seen a lot. But he’s never forgotten how to party.
And it was indeed a party at the Fillmore, where Snoop shot fake dollar bills with his face on them into the crowd and smoked a blunt the size of a ballpoint pen. He is assuredly one of the last performing rappers to, without irony, exhort the crowd to throw their hands in the air like they just don’t care.
Following short opening acts from relative unknowns Trae the Truth and RJMrLA, longtime fellow traveler Warren G took the stage to perform “I Need A Light,” “Summertime in the LBC” and “Regulate,” among a few others. It was his performance that finally brought puffs of smoke into the air, from the stage and the crowd; even the guy working the sound had a smoldering bowl.
When Snoop finally sauntered onto the stage — Snoop Dogg being one of the few people alive who actually “saunters” anywhere — the crowd pressed close to get a look. He wore dark sunglasses, a gold Liberty Bell piece attached to a gold chain, an arthritis-inducing diamond-encrusted watch, diamond rings and a leather jacket with the album art for Doggystyle on the front and DEATH ROW RECORDS on the back.
On stage, his hype men stood atop picnic benches, draped in red and blue bandanas meant to symbolize a plea for an end to violence between the two notorious L.A. gangs, the Bloods and the Crips. Snoop’s shirt, too, featured similar imagery. Lest you believe that the show was a melancholy meditation on gang violence, rest assured — he was also bracketed by two freestanding stripper poles, which were put to their intended use during “Gin and Juice,” “Sensual Seduction” and “The Next Episode” (a Dr. Dre song on which he is featured), among others.
Snoop was never much of a dancer, and even less so now. If he wasn’t so cool, you could squint and see your uncle dancing at a wedding, the way it can be all elbows with tiny little shoulder shrugs. And yet, he makes it work.
Snoop passed a joint to someone in the crowd through a security guard, and rapped a few bars of Slick Rick’s “Children’s Story.” He played “Gangsta Gangsta,” “Nothing But a G Thang” and “Lodi Dodi,” among many others, over the course of nearly 90 minutes.
The upshot of having said yes to everything for three decades — commercials, features, movies, etc. — is that everyone in the world knows who Snoop Dogg is. His crowd reflected it, too, diverse in every way imaginable. There’s also the simple fact that no man, woman or child alive can resist “Drop It Like It’s Hot.”