Review: Snoop Dogg Entertains a Sold-Out Crowd at Showbox

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Although Showbox Sodo is one of the most popular music venues in Seattle, for Snoop Dogg, the sold out concert probably seemed like an intimate space. For an artist who recently performed a huge show at Coachella with Dr Dre and who is literally a household name, the crowd at the Showbox Sodo, while impressive for Seattle, probably seemed small. Snoop Dogg could have used this opportunity to display the depth of his repertoire to a crowd of more dedicated listeners in mind or to showcase his new music to an attentive audience. Surprisingly, the show didn’t highlight Snoop Dogg’s lesser-known or more recent works, but instead focused on his most well known songs and covers of well-known songs, dating back to his hits from the 90s. However, the show was extremely entertaining, as expected from a character like Snoop Dogg.

For a rap show on a Sunday night in Seattle, Snoop Dogg’s concert received a remarkable turnout. The show was sold out and the audience was incredibly diverse. Whereas most hip hop shows feature a mostly young, male audience in Seattle, Snoop Dogg’s audience was almost even in terms of gender and was extremely varied in age and ethnicity. The diversity in the audience lent a more laid back nature to the concert; even close to the front, there wasn’t the usual claustrophobia and audience members were generally respectful to each other throughout the concert. However, while the audience members were not aggressive, the excitement in the room was still palpable.

The opening act, Jay Barz, did a good job capitalizing off the energy in the room. Jay Barz is a Tacoma rapper who mostly produces upbeat music with lyrics focused on West Coast marijuana culture, which fit well with Snoop Dogg’s ‘stoner’ reputation. This theme was best epitomized in the “Washingstonian” hat worn by the rapper. The upbeat and enthusiastic performance by Jay Barz invoked audience appreciation and inspired the audience to comply with the performers’ requests for call and response chants. At one point, one of the performers instructed the audience to hold up their lighters; of course, most of the audience was equipped with lighters and a surprising number of flames were waved in the air. Jay Barz gained notoriety as an opener for a variety of other equally famous acts and has developed a dedicated following because of his self-deprecating lyrics that were on show at the Snoop Dogg concert. Jay Barz’s jokes about his “whiteness” were well received by an ethnically mixed audience and cheers from the audience greeted his references to Tacoma. Unlike most openers, the act felt surprisingly short, a testament to the willing participation and patience of the audience as well as the enthusiasm of the performer.

Dyme Def, who were the second act of the night, are extremely well known and respected in the Seattle hip hop community. Dyme Def opened their act with “Rocca House Party” from their album Yuk the World, which elicited some recognition from the audience. However, for Seattle hip hop royalty, there were surprisingly few audience members at the Snoop Dogg concert who were familiar with Dyme Def’s music. Although by the end of the act it was apparent that the group were extremely experienced and confident performers, the audience reaction wasn’t a completely accurate testament to Dyme Def’s fame in the Seattle area. Although Seattle rap is notoriously divorced from popular hip hop in Washington, the lack of audience recognition of Dyme Def’s work was exacerbated by the popularity of Snoop Dogg; Snoop Dogg is so ubiquitous that the audience wasn’t neccessarily comprised of the usual Seattle rap followers. Regardless, by the time Dyme Def performed their most famous track, ‘Let It Be,’ the audience was enthusiastic and responded to the familiar sample, even if they were unfamiliar with Dyme Def’s popular rendition.  By the end of the show, the crowd was singing along with the chorus of ‘Young, Single and Free,’ which appealed to an audience familiar with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa’s ‘Young, Wild and Free.’

The only less than professional aspect of the night was the long interlude between Dyme Def’s performance and Snoop Dogg’s appearance. The crowd started to grow increasingly antsy during the hour-long gap between the opening performance and the main act. Unfortunately, the positive energy generated by the opening acts dwindled as the crowd became more impatient waiting for Snoop Dogg to take the stage. However, the appearance of Snoop Dogg’s DJ for the night sparked excitement as he asked the crowd “Are you ready for the King of the West Coast?” The references to smoking which formed a focal point in Snoop Dogg’s performance began with his introduction as the DJ asked the audience if they were smoking weed. After another five minutes of call and response, during which the audience became increasingly anxious, the self-proclaimed ‘King of the West Coast’ appeared, complete with two scantily clad background dancers.

As always, Snoop Dogg appeared looking more comical than ‘gangster’ with his lanky frame and over the top style. The rapper wore a practically bejeweled West Coast jacket and a huge jeweled ring emblazoned with his name. Snoop Dogg is one of the most easily recognizable rappers in the industry with his mid length braids, his skinny frame and his almost goofy smile, traits which have helped increased his TV and movie appearances. Paired with Snoop’s music, which detail his supposed sexual exploits and his ‘gangster’ life, Snoop Dogg comes off as ridiculous but immediately likeable, especially given the amount of respect he receives from the hip hop community despite his antics.

Snoop Dogg launched into his performance with an emphasis on his status as “King of the West Coast” and performed covers of songs from equally notorious rappers, including 50 Cent’s ‘P.I.M.P.,’ which elicited a huge response from the crowd, and Dr Dre’s ‘The Next Episode.’ Throughout his career, Snoop Dogg has largely been recognized for his features on other artists’ tracks with his distinctive voice; recently, his hits exclusively consist of collaborations with other artists. This helped explain the number of songs by other artists featured in his concert repertoire. Snoop’s performance of his most recent collaborations, Katy Perry’s ‘California Gurls’ and Wiz Khalifa’s ‘Young, Wild and Free’ were greeted with cheers by the crowd but also highlighted his lack of recent independent work. Although performing popular hits that don’t focus on Snoop appealed to the crowd, the songs didn’t particularly showcase his own work or his own skills.

However, Snoop Dogg did perform some of his classics during the show. ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ was greeted by an uproar from the audience. The song marks Snoop Dogg’s rise to fame and still is his most distinctive work, even at his show, most of the audience were more likely to know him for ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ than any other work. ‘Sensual Seduction’ also drew a lot of praise from the audience. ‘Sensual Seduction’ was one of the most entertaining performances of the evening, as Snoop danced around stage telling unbelievable tales of his sexual prowess.

Although the quality of the music selection at the Snoop Dogg concert probably could have been better, Snoop Dogg did live up to his reputation as an entertainer. The entire concert, he ambled around the stage with his comical walk and bobbed to the music amiably, much to the delight of the crowd. He regularly dedicated songs to “the ladies” and before performing Akon’s ‘I Just Want to F*** You,’ he singled out women in the front rows, sufficiently entertaining the audience. The set was also cleverly planned to increase the entertainment of the shows. Snoop was occasionally accompanied by two other rappers, which added variety to the show. The rappers were sometimes switched out for two dancers who danced vigorously on and around Snoop Dogg, much to the entertainment of both the audience and the performer, who just sat back and looked pleased with himself while performing. The best addition was a fairly old man who drifted around stage, dancing and interacting comically with the audience with his facial expressions. Like Snoop Dogg, the old man was simultaneously laid back and enthusiastic, which made him immediately likeable and elevated him to an audience favorite.

Snoop Dogg also kept the audience happy with his perennial references to smoking. Aside from his tales about smoking in his raps, particularly in ‘Smokin’ Good,’ Snoop Dogg regularly encouraged the audience to smoke and commented on the quality of weed in Seattle. In fact, after the first song, Snoop Dogg promptly lit up a ridiculously large joint and continued to smoke it throughout the show. As expected at a concert like Snoop Dogg’s, smoke wafted up regularly from the audience and went unacknowledged by the bouncers that lined front of the stage. Snoop Dogg even introduced the closing song of the night, ‘Young, Wild and Free,’ with a reference to how his partner on the song, Wiz Khalifa, is a rapper also acknowledge for his raps about marijuana.

Overall, Snoop Dogg’s performance was best exemplified by his performance of ‘Gin and Juice.’ During the performance, Snoop was joined by the audience in singing along to his description of him “Rollin down the street, smokin indo, sippin on gin and juice, laidback.” More than anything else, Snoop Dogg’s performance confirmed that at age 40, he was still the same laid back, hedonistic, and entertaining rapper of a generation ago who could live a content life simply smoking and sipping on ‘gin and juice’. Although Snoop is not the most critically acclaimed rapper, he fulfills his purpose of entertaining well and ties together diverse audiences with his light, popular music.

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