Snoop Dogg, aka Snoop Lion, performed at Constellation Brands-Marvin Sands Performing Arts Center Thursday night. Here, he sings with two of his backup dancers nearby. Photo by Spencer Tulis/Finger Lakes Times
Is he Snoop Dogg or Snoop Lion?
The rapper, who is reportedly leaving hip-hop for reggae, came to CMAC on Thursday, but the answer is still unclear.
Though a Rastafarian-themed banner hung on stage, the only person besides Snoop himself to refer to him as Snoop Lion was opener Yelawolf.
The lawn slowly filled, but the shell remained glaringly empty for young rapper Yelawolf’s 40-minute performance. His stage banter was a bit awkward, and speaking to a mostly bare room couldn’t have helped, but when the music started he was an impressive force.
Yelawolf’s rapping is intense. He attacks each song with unbridled intensity, his raspy voice going from a sped-up, blurred verse to screams, sounding closer to punk rock than hip-hop. Only Yelawolf and a DJ occupied the stage; unfortunately, the music he rapped over was incredibly boring. Most of the beats felt generic and repetitive, which held him back.
The rapper paid tribute to the Beastie Boys, whose founding member MCA recently died of cancer. The nice sentiment turned weird, though, when instead of covering his heroes, he was simply singing and rapping over their songs. Ironically, the medley of “cover” songs drew the biggest reaction from the audience.
After Yelawolf finished, it was over an hour before the lights dimmed again. When they did, the crowd on the lawn tried to make their way to the legion of empty seats. Ushers and security initially stopped them, but as the music started, the floodgates were briefly opened. People ran by the ushers, some climbing over rows of empty seats, but security eventually regained control. Hundreds had forced their way down, but the upper half of the shell was still almost completely unoccupied.
The band – a guitarist, bassist, keyboard player, two drummers and a DJ – played through the first Snoop Lion single, “La La La,” before the rapper came onstage, but it was the only reggae song of the night. The concert really only covered his prolific hip-hop career, and the other rappers on stage continued to refer to him as Snoop Dogg.
Snoop performed his biggest hits, like “Gin and Juice,” “Who Am I (What’s My Name),” and “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” and a handful of songs on which he’s featured. Because he often only has a verse or two, songs like Dr. Dre’s “The Next Episode” and Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” were condensed and rebuilt around Snoop’s performance.
The crowd that broke free from the lawn ended up saving what would have been an awkward night. The show’s energy was completely built around the crowd – on their feet, hands in the air. The arena went wild when he did his most well known singles.
During his final song, “Young, Wild & Free,” the rapper did mention his new alias, calling himself “Snoop Dogg aka Snoop Lion,” but it seemed almost in passing.
Snoop’s rap career is too big to ignore, and if he does decide to tour exclusively with reggae, he’ll be playing much smaller venues than CMAC.
Even billed as a hip-hop legend, Snoop Dogg failed to come close to filling CMAC. Thankfully, some rambunctious lawn-dwellers saved it from being a disaster.
Originally published in Finger Lakes Times - August 3, 2012
Snoop Dogg stuck with rap at CMAC