Written by Alex Brazeau
This was one of the big shows we’d really been waiting for here at Envy. On a day that had been stacked full of hip hop performances, it was finally time to close out the day with one of the most legendary names in rap history—Snoop Dogg (or Snoop Lion as he’s come to be known lately)—and, once again, the Bluesfest favourite brought out another massive mob of fans as he returned to help celebrate the festival’s 20th anniversary. Hurrying over from the Childish Gambino show that had just ended across the field, we made our way into the giant crowd that had collected in front of the Bell Stage.
Whether the plan was to have us all hanging in anticipation before the gangsta rap icon’s arrival or because his last blunt hadn’t been put out in his trailer backstage yet (which is probably more likely the case)—Snoop left the crowd standing around, crammed in front of the stage for 25 minutes after the show was scheduled to start. In a move to loosen up the crowd that was becoming increasingly rowdy and restless, his DJ jumped behind the decks and hyped everyone up with a couple of west coast classics, including “California Love” and “Still Dre”, before Snoop finally made his way out to center stage.
Emerging from the shadows, rocking superstar defenceman Erik Karlsson’s name and #65 on the back of his Senators heritage jersey, Snoop kicked off his set off with “Here Comes the King”, a single from his Grammy-nominated reggae album, Reincarnated. That was really the only appearance Snoop Lion would make, though, as from here on out the show would feature hits from his more than 20-year career as Snoop Dogg. With Kurupt by his side, he asked if the audience had love for his homie, and voice of the g-funk era, Nate Dogg, before jumping into his own verse from 213’s “So Fly” with the Dogg Pound’s soulful crooner on the hook.
From there, the Doggfather ran through a setlist made up mostly of popular songs he’s been featured on over the years, with more recent radio hits like Jason Derulo’s “Wiggle”; Katy Perry’s “California Gurls”; along with some of the older jams, like 50 Cent’s “P.I.M.P.” and Dre’s “The Next Episode” and “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang”. Hoping to please the long-time fans, he sprinkled in a few old-school classics like “Gin & Juice”, “Lodi Dodi”, and “Bitch Please” but these solo efforts were seriously overshadowed by the sheer number of guest feature tracks.
For someone who’s been touring as long as Snoop has, there was no doubt he showed that he still knows how to work the crowd and the legions of screaming fans all around me were certainly proof of that. Taking a minute to pay homage to both Biggie and 2Pac, he went through renditions of” Hypnotize” and “Amerikaz Most Wanted”, then started covering random, and slightly confusing, jams like Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock & Roll” and House of Pain’s “Jump Around”. Wrapping up the night with another couple of classics, Snoop tried to bring things back full circle as he launched into another reggae tune, Bob Marley’s “Jammin’” to finish up the night. Before leaving the stage, however, he had Kurupt snap a photo for Instagram and left Ottawa with a parting message, “Smoke weed, motherfuckers.”
In the end, you have to hand it to Snoop; At 42, and showing no visible signs of slowing down, the man still knows how to deliver when it comes to putting on a live show keeping a crowd of thousands on their feet. If there’s one thing this concert was, it was crowd-pleasing—even if it was a little confused in what it was trying to be… a show that saw more feature verses performed than it did actual songs by LBC legend and true hip hop icon, Snoop D.O. double G.