Following a thankfully brief time where Calvin Broadus decided he wanted to create reggae music and began referring to himself as Snoop Lion, he's back to his old self as the gin and juice sippin' pimp we all came to know and love over the past two decades, and it was in his original persona that Snoop visited The Academy last night for what would best be described as a greatest hits tour.
After a lengthy warm up by the touring band and DJ who blared classics like 'California Love' and 'Still D.R.E', we're finally graced with the rapper's presence for a reggae opener taken from his most recent project before 'Tha Shiznit' gets the house jumping to really set things off as Snoop delivered his sensationally laid back flow over a 90's Dre beat (in spite of it suffering from slightly poor sound quality, an issue throughout). There's a mix of tracks over the course of Snoop's introduction, showcasing a range of sides to the legendary figure, from the funky R&B of 'Up's & Down's', 213 track 'I'm Fly', a 50 Cent cover of 'P.I.M.P' that goes that down predicatbly well with the crowd and new chart favourite collaboration with Jason Derulo 'Wiggle'. Snoop was made by his extraordinary flow and gangsta rap persona though, and it's these tracks that genuine fans will have come to see- 'Lodi Dodi' is an excellent out take from 1991 debut (and best record by a mile) Doggystyle while 'Gin And Juice' is an obvious highlight of the night, but it becomes increasingly clear over the course of the set that many of the fans in attendance aren't exactly hip hop connoisseurs, with a waning response to rap classics that deserve the biggest pop.
At several times throughout the night there are telling signs of the kind of songs that these fans want to hear, and Snoop obliges them with his features on the likes of Katy Perry's 'California Girls' and David Guetta's 'Wet' before even subjecting us to a ludicrous cover of Britney Spears' 'I Love Rock'n'Roll'. These chart hits go down a treat with the audience but they're certainly alienating to the hardcore rap fan who has followed Snoop's discography rather than a number of features that were by and large a cash in for Broadus. It's a credit to Snoop's persona though that he keeps both sides interested with his call and response techniques that bring the crowd into each tune, and there are plenty of compromises to be had song wise too, with 'The Next Episode' bringing the house down in the moment of the night before the set is ended with a feel good element by 'Young, Wild & Free' and Bob Marley's 'Jammin'.
Ultimately it was a strange kind of night in the Academy, and perhaps a telling one for the rap star who seems to be settling down into middle age and enjoying his fame with chart success and major exposure coming over the more substance filled rap of his 90's career. While it may have been a night more suited to the casual fan, there was enough rap highlights taken from Snoop's lengthy career to pull it through, and this showcase of the path of Calvin Broadus can be summarized best the same way his music career can; perhaps a little inconsistent, without a doubt entertaining, and always incredibly fun.
Review by Andrew Lambert