Tha Doggfather Cameth

A s I stood near a 60-year- old woman bumping and grinding to Snoop Dogg's laid-back rhymes, I realized my worries about being too old to attend a hip-hop show were unfounded.

Apparently, I wasn't old enough.

To be sure, the bandana- wearing grandma was the far end of the spectrum of Snoop fans who showed up at the Jackson County Expo Tuesday night. But her presence got me to thinking about what my kids will think when rooting through their old man's CDs and finding hip- hop masterpieces like "Tha Doggfather," "The Chronic" and "Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers)," etc.

Would they think I at one time fancied myself a gun-toting hood gangster, slinging crack while dodging the po-lice down in the LBC?

It would probably be akin to my discovering my dad's set of Alice Cooper albums at the tender age of seven. How did this plain-spoken Midwestern oil field worker possibly relate to creepy old Alice, he of the snakes, mock stage executions and black mascara?

Anyway, the show was fun as hell, boring, inspiring, utterly ridiculous, over-produced and not quite forgettable all rolled into one. I left the show thinking I witnessed a true-to-god slice of West Coast gangster vaudeville.

I remained in the parking lot through the first few acts, having no interest in hearing what the likes of Mistah F.A.B. had to say. Besides, the parking lot provided its share of unintended comedy.

A couple of young dudes parked beside me. On their way by, one of them leaned into my window and warned me that the "pigs were everywhere, man, watch out."

I looked up from my book and gave him a nod. Word, dog.

Walking to the venue was like strolling through a drive-in. Those who couldn't swing the $45 ticket simply parked their rigs in the gravel lot, put the young'uns in the bed and listened to the show from afar. The sound quality actually wasn't that bad.

I wandered in just as Warren G was kicking off his set. The name Warren G hasn't passed through my mind since my junior year in high school, but I remember kinda liking him. He shares Snoop's easy going cadences, with rhymes that flow with an almost conversational ease.

Tha Doggfather emerged as Warren G was clearing his set to a rousing ovation and a cloud of burning hippie lettuce from the crowd.

Snoop, who was probably enduring a rough week on the home front as his Los Angeles Lakers were taking a pounding from the Boston Celtics and his wife had just been arrested for DUI in California, looked super snazzy in a power blue tracksuit. He kicked off his set with cuts off "Doggstyle" and choice N.W.A. tracks. "Gin and Juice" flowed into "F—- tha Police" and so on.

He followed with a medley of Tupac covers, in honor of the fallen rapper's birthday the previous day.

What began as a mild curiosity, suddenly had me rapt in good times and nostalgia. There was a time when men such as Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg actually had creative things to say about their strange little section of the world, I thought.

For the most part, I've always gravitated toward East Coast hip-hop — Raekwon, Nas, Wu-Tang Klan, the Roots, etc. — but there's no denying the impact the N.W.A. collective had on my pop culture orbit.

And just as I was about to give into the hip-hop madness and deem the night a success, it all fell apart and I was reminded why I hate most the current hip-hop scene.

Snoop paraded about 20 girls on stage, made some comment of how "these Central Point ladies is tight." The testosterone level spiked and a group of cro-mags standing near me began chanting for the girls to show their ... you know. A shoving match sparked a few rows up for me as it suddenly became every man for himself.

I had watched hip-hop come full circle in the span of two hours and it left me cold and frustrated. What much of hip-hop has become is not what will stand the test of time.

Besides, there still plenty of quality work produced, though it may not sell the records quite as fast. It's as relevant today as it was in 1988.

On the way out of the parking lot I popped in Ghostface Killah's "Only Built for Cuban Linx," which reminded me of the above fact.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471; or e-mail

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