The Game Fizzles And Snoop Dogg Sizzles

By Sarah Godfrey
Special to The Washington Post
Tuesday, May 10, 2005

It's hard enough to keep gang members from shooting at each other, let alone persuade them to share a stage. But what's a silly little long-standing street war between two multi-platinum rap stars? Even though Snoop Dogg is a card-carrying, blue-wearing Long Beach Crip and Compton's own The Game is a Cedar Block Piru Blood, the rappers have let go of their respective color hang-ups and pledged their allegiance to the universally flattering shade of money green.

Unity is the official theme of the "How the West Was One" tour, but there is still an undertone of friendly competition between the Dr. Dre proteges who, together, represent the best of the West. At the Patriot Center on Sunday, Snoop easily won this big-budget war of the words, but only by forfeit. The Game was a no-show, and what was to be a glorious four-hour musical journey through the Wild West was reduced to a solo performance.

The word came at about 8:30 p.m. A trembling messenger, who paid for sins committed in a past life by agreeing to deliver the news, appeared onstage and announced that The Game would not be performing.

Although Game's absence was disappointing, it wasn't entirely surprising.

The artist behind "The Documentary," one of this year's top-selling hip-hop albums, hasn't exactly endeared himself to local fans. On Jan. 21 he was involved in an incident at the Lanham studios of radio station WKYS, where he and manager James Rosemond allegedly assaulted a popular disc jockey. The rapper born Jayceon Taylor went on to brag about the incident with a brief, cryptic line on a remix of the single "Hate It or Love It": "Don't make me remind y'all what happened in D.C."

Speculation about The Game's reasons for bowing out were soon being traded among bored teenagers. The most popular theories were that he feared retaliation for the January incident and that he showed up, saw that the arena was only about half-full and left. Those who weren't in their seats gossiping were demanding refunds or heading to the parking lot.

Only the appearance of The Doggfather brought things back under control.

Say what you will about the content of Snoop's lyrics, but the man knows how to calm an arena of irate fans. With a carefully proportioned mix of drugs, sex and violence, the Dogg Pound Gangsta was able to redirect the energies of the angry mob. In mere seconds, booing and swearing became cheering and swearing.

Just before 10, the lights dimmed and a mini-movie began rolling on two jumbo screens. The film centered on a beautiful woman's attempt to kill Snoop, and ended with him and the beauty pointing pistols at each other's heads. It was implied that he pumped her full of lead, but the visual is omitted -- a sweet concession, considering it was Mother's Day and all.

After the movie, the place went completely black, save for a glowing amber orb at the middle of the stage. When the lights came up, Snoop Dogg, covered in a jumpsuit cut from blue bandanna material, was front and center, puffing on what looked like a blunt. As the first church organ synthesizer notes of "Murder Was the Case" rang out, he took a long toke and blew a plume of smoke into the crowd.

Surrounded by a gangster's paradise of dancers, Dogg Pound members, gin and juice and an herb garden fit for a spread in High Times, the top dog of them all served up an incredible 90-minute set.

The hits, everything from a bouncing "Nuthin' but a G Thing" all the way up to "Let's Get Blowed," were served up in a loose chronological order, which meant that Snoop started the show by rapping through his nose, moved on to ending every word with "izzle" and finished off with a little singing. A live band gave several tunes Snoop's trademark "G-mix," but most of the arrangements were gangster lite. An electric guitar drowned out the piano chords of "Deep Cover," and a blaring saxophone rendered "Ladi Dadi" more Kenny G than D-O-Double-G.

Before launching into the tropical world beat of the "P.I.M.P" remix, Snoop introduced a crowd of impressionable young men and women to real-life prostitute wrangler Bishop Don "Magic" Juan. There were a handful of parents in attendance and they hung in through the number, perhaps because the look of bliss on their children's faces stayed put. But when a four-poster bed containing half-naked women was wheeled on the stage for "Fresh Pair of Panties On," the nasty R&B/hip-hop single from this year's "R&G" (Rhythm and Gangster), most of the families fled the arena. Their departure was well timed.

Minutes later Snoop delivered the raunchy group sex anthem "Ain't No Fun."

By the time Snoop launched into the Neptunes-produced "Drop It Like It's Hot," all of that whining about being cheated out of an opening act was pretty much silenced. Snoop blew one final cloud of weed smoke into the stands, and everyone left with a souvenir contact high.

© 2005 The Washington Post Company