Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" refers to a particularly potent brand of marijuana, but the only thing chronic about The Chronic Tour that kicked off early this month was its recurring major problems. Last Wednesday, after only seven concerts (out of 46 scheduled), the already-once-postponed tour was "indefinitely postponed."

Coincidentally, one of its major stars, Snoop Doggy Dogg, faces arraignment Friday in Los Angeles Municipal Court on murder charges stemming from an Aug. 25 shooting in Culver City, Calif. In that incident, Snoop, whose real name is Calvin Broadus, was driving a Jeep Cherokee when his bodyguard shot a man who they say had been threatening them.

Additionally, headliner Dr. Dre recently agreed to a six-figure out-of-court settlement in a civil suit brought by television hostess Dee Barnes. Dre, whose real name is Andre Young, has already been fined $2,500 and ordered to complete 240 hours of community service for attacking Barnes at a party in 1991. The settlement came just one hour before jury selection was to begin in the civil case.

The Chronic Tour -- due to stop in Baltimore next week -- was originally slated for early summer but had to be postponed when Dre was placed under house arrest for 90 days after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor assault for breaking the jaw of a producer.

The charges against Snoop Doggy Dog are, of course, much more serious and come at a time when the 21-year-old rapper seemed ready to break into the big time, not the big house. Snoop gained attention for writing and performing the title tune for the film "Deep Cover," as well as for being the featured rapper on "Nuthin but a 'G' Thing" and "Dre Day," two massively popular singles from Dr. Dre's triple-platinum "Chronic" album. Snoop's smooth, understated singsong delivery and gritty urban scenarios made him an instant star in the hip-hop world; he was on recent covers of Rolling Stone, Vibe, the Source and Rappages (all out before the shooting incident). His debut album on Interscope, "Doggy Style," is so eagerly anticipated that it is expected to open at No. 1. Interscope says that the Dr. Dre-produced album is likely to be out in mid-October.

The recent interviews seemed to foreshadow current events. In Vibe, Snoop talked about hiring a bodyguard to protect him from overzealous fans and "envious knuckleheads," and about packing two guns as "a protection thang." In the Source, the opening scene has him sitting in his Grand Cherokee 4x4 and pulling out two .380s in a stare-down with a gang member armed with a .22: "He ain't really want none," Snoop laughs after the incident. And in the introduction to the "Chronic" album, Snoop can be heard boasting, "If you must test us/ We can handle it in the streets." On Aug. 25, Snoop, bodyguard McKinley Lee and associate Sean Abrams got into an exchange with 24-year-old Phillip Waldermarian outside Snoop's Culver City apartment.

David Kenner, Snoop's attorney, said yesterday that Waldermarian, who was on probation for brandishing a gun on a public bus, had threatened his client on several occasions over the last three months -- once holding a 9mm gun to Snoop's head. On the day in question, Kenner said, Waldermarian showed up as a passenger in a car outside the apartment, waving a gun and yelling, "Where's Snoop? I'm going to kill him."

Lee, a licensed security guard whose apartment is next to Snoop's, came down with Snoop, but the car drove away. Soon after, Kenner says, Snoop, Lee and Abrams ran into Waldermarian at a public park, and when he came at their car pulling a gun from his waistband and looking as if he were about to fire, Lee shot him (no gun was found at the scene). Kenner calls it "a clear case of self-defense. ... Lee did what he was hired to do. There was a life-threatening situation, and he reacted to it." As for Snoop, says Kenner, "other than driving the car to the studio, he was uninvolved."

Ed Nison, deputy district attorney for L.A.'s hard-core gang division, offers a different scenario. "There appears to have been a prior confrontation -- and then a short vehicle chase, with Broadus {Snoop} driving his car and chasing the car Waldermarian was in for five or six blocks prior to the shooting," Nison says. "After the chase Waldermarian and his friends were at the park when Broadus's Jeep drove by one or two times. Someone from the Jeep called over to the victim, who walked towards the Jeep. After a verbal confrontation, Lee pulled out a .380 semiautomatic and fired five to six shots, two of which struck Waldermarian in the back. Witnesses unrelated to the victim or the defendants indicated he had nothing in his hands when he approached the car and it appears that Broadus was seeking out Waldermarian."

Snoop was charged with one count of murder (punishment: 25 years to life), and is facing felony counts for two separate concealed weapons charges dating to July. His bail was set at $1 million and was paid by Death Row Records. Lee continues to be held without bail, while Abrams is out on $200,000 bond. Snoop turned himself in on Sept. 6 following the MTV Music Video Awards show, where he was a guest presenter. He was released the next morning, and the next day, the Chronic Tour kicked off in Rochester, N.Y. Briefly.