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Snoop Dogg - Brixton Academy, London 05/06/14

12 June 2014, 14:32 | Written by Chris Pratt

If there’s one thing you can’t call Snoop Dogg, it’s lazy. Despite meticulously crafting himself an image as one of the biggest stoners on the planet, Calvin Broadus has an almighty work ethic. I’m loath to do the maths but I’d be surprised if another MC has featured on more guest spots, collaborations and remixes over the last 15 years, and he’s also persevered with his solo work, though it’s struggled to repeat the acclaim of The Chronic and Doggystyle back in the early ‘90s. Throw in his many extracurricular activities – movie roles, a big Las Vegas DJ residency, those MoneySupermarket adverts – and it’s a wonder he finds the time or energy for a relatively intimate performance like this.

Heralding his entrance with a huge video projection of his gurning face in Snoop Lion guise, painted Rastafarian red, gold and green like an irie football hooligan, Broadus strolls casually onstage to the infectious tropical skank of “Here Comes The King”. This opener is a red herring though – despite the visuals often referring to his recent reggae reincarnation, the remainder of the music is 100% good old-fashioned Snoop Doggy Dogg. Well not quite, but we’ll come back to that later. It’s clear from early on that Snoop isn’t here to tease, as he rolls out anthem after anthem. In the first few minutes alone we get the steel drum strut of “P.I.M.P (Remix)”, with Snoop playfully flipping the business-like talk of 50 Cent’s original back on itself (‘I drive a Cadillac, wear a perm/’cause I’m a G’) and the “Club Tropicana”-aping smash “Signs” with special cheers reserved for local reference “we’ll see Venus and Serena/at the Wimbledon arena”.

The hits keep coming, at a rate and density I’ve not experienced since a Bruce Springsteen encore, though whilst the Boss’ on-stage antics would intensify as the music climaxes, the perpetually sunglass-clad Dogg seems to maintain a zen-like physical stillness throughout - his 6 foot 4 inch frame gliding across the front of the stage with remarkable economy of movement.

This said, his presence and persona are undeniably magnetic, due in no small part to the popularity of the music at his disposal. From early G-Funk classics like “Nuthin’ But A G Thang” and “Gin & Juice” to naughty noughties bangers like “Drop It Like It’s Hot” and Akon’s “I Wanna Love You” (though it’s the less savoury, parental advisory of the latter that is aired tonight) to more recent hits like his verse on Katy Perry’s “California Gurls” and the inescapable “Young, Wild & Free” (which sparks a mass singalong that makes me feel like I need to apply for my senior citizen’s bus pass), tonight’s set shows that Snoop has survived the twists and turns of mainstream rap trends like no other.

But Snoop’s not content with cherry-picking from his own back-catalogue – ever the showman, he happily scavenges from others’ too, rapping the verses on “Hypnotize” in tribute to Biggie, dropping “Jump Around” (including the second tennis reference of the evening) and even doing a straight version of “I Love Rock n’ Roll” by Joan Jett (which gave Snoop’s drummer a rare chance to show his chops). Seemingly his recent success behind the turntables as DJ Snoopadelic has given him a new-found hankering for unashamed crowd-pleasing.

Snoop’s ubiquity in recent years has seen him become part of the hip-hop furniture, but this short (just over an hour) but stellar performance is a reminder that we often take for granted one of the most distinctive and appealing voices in the genre’s history.

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