By Brian Ives
Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa have become a formidable team over the years; they’ve collaborated on a number of songs, and co-starred in 2012’s Mac and Devin. And the rappers’ chemistry was apparent last night at their New Jersey stop on their High Road Tour at the PNC Bank Arts Center.
The High Road Tour sees Snoop and Wiz performing one lengthy set together, sometimes pairing up as a duo, and often taking solo cuts. Snoop (and Wiz) seemed to know what songs would work better together, and when to let the other guy shine alone.
The beginning of the show was where many of the solo performances lived; Snoop opened with a medley of two of Dr. Dre collaborations: “The Next Episode” and “Nuthin’ But a ‘G’ Thang.” The songs were a reminder the chemistry he had with his mentor. Wiz Khalifa responded with “Bake Sale” and “We Dem Boyz.”
But soon the two performed a number of tracks together, trading verses back and forth with a rapport that few hip-hop duos have had outside of Run-D.M.C., Method Man and Redman or… Snoop Dogg and Dr. Dre.
The truth is, Snoop is the rare MC who both holds his own as a solo act, but is just great as a member of a team. He knows when to jump in and when to hold back and let the other guy shine. It must have been a disappointment to him over the years that Dr. Dre, with whom he had such a great partnership, didn’t tour or record prolifically, but Snoop more than held his own without him. Now, however, Snoop seems to have slid easily into the elder statesman role. While he may bristle at the term “elder,” keep in mind that Doggystyle is about to hit 23 years old this fall (making it quite a bit older than most of the fans at last night’s show); it’s been 24 years since he debuted on the Dr. Dre song “Deep Cover” and Dre’s game-changing debut The Chronic.
And in that time, he’s learned to take hip-hop from the clubs to the arena (not an easy feat for many hip-hop artists). Walking back and forth on stage with a mic is cool in a room that fits 1,000. In a 10,000 capacity summer shed, not so much. But having been on some huge tours over the years with Dre, he’s learned that huge crowds require a different dynamic and he brings it. (Although they keep a bit of the club vibe: each MC shared their blunts with fans in the front row. Sharing is caring! )
Wiz Khalifa has spent time on the road playing huge venues as well (last summer he co-headlined with Fall Out Boy), so both of these entertainers are seasoned at playing not just to the front rows, but to the nosebleed seats (and, in fact, at one point in the show, the duo appeared on a small stage at the edge of the lawn).
It looks like Snoop has found his perfect partner (needless to say, they both share a love for marijuana) and if last night’s show was an indication, the duo may be rocking huge halls together for years to come.